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In a post-COVID aviation first, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific has announced a partnership with a local biotech firm, Prenetics, to introduce a digital health passport system which could significantly ease the way towards a safer form of air travel. The high-tech set-up would allow passengers to use a mobile app to present a negative COVID-19 result at check-in and again on arrival at their destination. Prenetics told the South China Morning Post that the pilot project will take-off on the London to Hong Kong route in October, potentially paving the way for quarantine-free travel between the two financial hubs – and at best providing a model which could be implemented globally. Hong Kong has been at the forefront of virus prevention and control since COVID-19 made its first murky appearance across the border in China in mid-January. To date, the city of 7.4 million people has suffered 4,997 cases and 103 deaths. Its travel industry, however, has been devastated, with 2019's most visited city recording a drop in air traffic of 91 percent and a 99.9 percent fall in visitor numbers since the border closed. As with the the majority of Asian countries, Hong Kong's borders have been shuttered to all but a few travellers since March, with any passengers making it through forced to spend weeks in quarantine at the end of their journeys. It's a move which has undoubtedly helped to control the spread of the virus across the continent, but with cases in Hong Kong sinking back into single digits over the last few weeks, a plan to restart international travel is finally in the works. Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government announced that it had approached 11 countries deemed to be low-risk, including Germany, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan, with a view to forming travel bubbles. Although Hong Kong is currently on the UK's 'green list', Great Britain did not make the cut but yesterday's announcement from Cathay Pacific suggests that may change. The technology needed certainly appears to be there; the Hong Kong biotech start-up Prenetics was recently appointed by the Hong Kong government to carry out hundreds of thousands of tests as part of a free citywide testing programme, following a recent third wave of coronavirus outbreaks. The firm, which counts former England and Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand among its investors, is also responsible for restarting another beleaguered industry – live sports – with its COVID-19 testing programme for English Premier League footballers. Players and staff are currently tested by Prenetics twice a week. The Hong Kong company are also confident that they will be able to roll out a rapid 30-minute COVID-19 test before the end of the year, which would make it the fastest polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in the world. At the moment, the most accurate coronavirus antigen tests can take anywhere between six hours to a few days to produce results. The new test would slash this to half an hour, has been approved by the World Health Organisation, and is 99.9 percent accurate both in identifying positive cases and those who test negative. Used in conjunction with a digital health app, air passengers on both sides of the corridor would be able to arrange a standardised COVID-19 test before departure. Later, the result would be uploaded to their phone and that online information would then act as a kind of digital health passport allowing access to their flight. A second test would then be performed on arrival, with another negative result granting the passenger permission to cross the border and presumably negate the need for quarantine. The UK and Hong Kong would still need to discuss what would happen to anyone who tested positive at the arrival stage. Currently, anyone testing positive on arrival in Hong Kong is sent to hospital until they produce two negative tests, while anyone who has been in close proximity to a positive case is sent to a government quarantine facility for 14 days. But while there are still some potential hurdles, the news from Hong Kong appears to offer an extremely promising path to restarting a safe, reliable and straightforward means of air travel in the near future.
The pandemic has made me soppy, so I am on holiday with my parents. Mum is a semi-retired ophthalmologist and Dad is a semi-retired vicar (most retirement is semi these days, it seems) and they live in my home town of Belfast; in recent months, the Irish Sea has proven a peskier topographical flourish than ever before. I’d always loved the Irish Sea, a charming decorative feature in my existence, full of romance and history and mackerel. But after March, it became The Wet Thing That Keeps Me Away From My Mum. And so this week I took a train and they took a ferry, and we all met in Cardigan Bay. At first I felt guilty that I don’t come with adorable, entertaining grandchildren (as my brother and sister do) but Mum and Dad are delighted to be on a family holiday where they’re not treated as a pair of supremely affordable 60-something au pairs. “I feel so valued in myself,” muses Mum. “You invited us on holiday just because you like us! You really like us!” Viewing my holiday as a chance to see family is yet another way the pandemic has ripped up my travel rule book in 2020. Multi-generational family holidays were already a growing trend, but it’s been years since I’ve holidayed with my parents – not counting gatherings at my brother’s in Leeds or visiting my sister in California. And, for my fellow millennials, it turns out that holidaying with your parents is a brilliant idea, for the following reasons: Your parents don’t mind picking you up from the station even if it is out of their way. My parents have been picking me up from inconvenient places for more than three decades! They do it briskly and without complaint. You can go to bed at 9pm without worrying about appearing boring. What a true holiday it is to be with travellers who want to be asleep by 10pm. You can pack light and essentially show up with your laptop and some spare knickers, because parents will bring everything else: biscuits, a first aid kit, an array of condiments, an archive of body lotion sachets foraged from airports and glossy magazines since 2014, at least five raincoats and last weekend’s newspapers. You don’t need to apologise for any strange phobias or weird habits or dietary intolerances. Your parents gave you them. It’s all their fault. You can make in-jokes and gently bicker about shared memories, without boring or boasting or alienating your companions. If there is a parallel to “lightweight” holiday reading material in holiday conversational subject matter, family chatter is undemanding stream-of-consciousness material of the highest (lowest?) order. And, funnily enough, my parents have found some perks to travelling with me. I have crowdsourced half of this column from Ian and Pat Hart, who would like their fellow baby boomers to know that holidaying with a grown-up child brings the following benefits: They will have diligently researched places to eat and know all about the uber-hip “pizza tepee” – whatever that may be – in the next village that unfathomably has 12,000 Instagram followers. Millennials are ready-made tech support workers, so you don’t need to fiddle with the satnav or stress about online check-ins or ordering food online or anything else involving a brightly lit screen. Your adult child will hopefully share quite a few interests and hobbies with you, because, after all, you programmed them. If you didn’t programme them to be compatible holiday companions, what were you doing? You don’t find yourself talked into doing things out of politeness, as with friends. With your children, politeness has long since gone out the window. You don’t need to worry about how frightening you look in the morning. You all grew up in the same cave, and your children are acclimatised to your grunts and neolithic hairstyle pre-9am. But of course, the biggest reason isn’t on these lists. Dad put it best, delivering the following death blow to friendships: “The best thing about this week is being on holiday with someone we love, rather than friends, who we only like.” I can’t say I ever thought soppiness would enter my definition of slow travel. But as I tentatively make travel plans for the future, I realise they’re now about people, as much as places. To read more articles by Anna Hart, see telegraph.co.uk/travel/team/anna-hart
Two people have died after a shooting at a party in the city of Rochester, New York state. Fourteen other people were injured in the incident, which comes after unrest in the city following the suffocation death of Daniel Prude while he was
This timelapse video shows one man's transformation from kid to adult. Maryland-based Frans Hugo Cornellier took a selfie every day for SEVEN years - from the age of 12 until he was 19-year-old. Witness his incredible coming of age in
Story and video from SWNS Tattoo-fan Bruno Neves, 33, proposed to his girlfriend with an inking which read "Will you marry me?", complete with 'Yes/No' tick boxes. Romantic Bruno popped the question to girlfriend Patricia
Escaping the city is squarely on trend. As renters grew tired of living and working from cramped homes, applications for urban properties dropped 23 per cent in August. While, between April and June, 41 per cent buyers from cities bought a home in a town, suburb or countryside location. Some went a step further, opting to become digital nomads.
You can imagine the conversations in the production company offices over the past few weeks. To release, or not to release? To promote, or not to promote? After all, there are surely more convenient moments to unleash a new travel documentary than the middle of a pandemic, when many borders are closed and quarantine windows are a risk to any trips that actually can be done.
You might have some Comté lurking in the fridge, stocked up on Aldi’s bargain Crémant from the area, or even driven right through it on the A39 to go skiing. But the chances are you’ve never actually visited the Jura, a delightful départment in eastern France.
Large parts of England's North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands face tough new restrictions as the Health Secretary refused to rule out a national lockdown. Ministers announced a tightening of rules in response to "major
When it comes to Covid-19, there is an element of the cure being more dangerous than the virus. And as the Foreign Office becomes a laughing stock with its sweeping travel ban that makes no considerations for countries that have worked hard to reduce their Covid-19 cases to single figures; the surge in insurance companies offering policies that cover travel against Foreign Office advice is further proof of the nonsensical nature of this blunt instrument. So much so that we – a tour operator organising approximately 450 annual safari and beach holidays to 18 African countries – have been left with no choice but to run our own risk assessment for the destinations we operate in. At no point does Aardvark Safaris intend to put any clients or guides and camp staff at risk but we do require our Foreign Office to work with us to open sensible air corridors where they can and reduce the quarantine with efficient and effective airport testing – as outlined in the Telegraph’s Test4Travel campaign, which is requesting policy change driven by common sense. The UK Foreign Office has taken away our liberty of making fair and informed decisions. It needs to regain some confidence if its advice (and we need to remember that it is just “advice”) is ever to be taken seriously again. It needs to look at each country as a standalone destination and apply fair consideration. Africa is being treated like one country rather than a continent with 54 countries (you can currently only travel to St Helena without quarantine). The lack of faith in this continent which is used to (and very effective at) dealing with outbreaks of infectious diseases is insulting. Recent travellers have commented that the strict protocols in place at Africa airports, safari camps and hotels make the UK look hopeless. One traveller had his temperature taken over 18 times in a week. They are doing everything they can to keep their countrymen safe. There are a number of countries that have now fallen well below the 20 per 100,000 and have effective testing in place. South Africa’s numbers are falling nearly as quickly as they increased and they are now well within the UK government's stated safety numbers. In fact, going on a naturally socially-distanced safari is considerably safer than heading to many parts of the UK. Can I visit South Africa? Latest travel advice as country reopens borders This will not only allow us to make our own choices, it will keep travellers safe and stop what could be potentially a huge humanitarian crisis unfolding. In Kenya alone, seven million people – a third of the working population – work in tourism, each supporting between seven and eight dependants. Allowing travellers to visit Kenya (which has a current infection rate of 1.7 per 100,000) would do a lot more good than any aid handout. These safe countries need tourists for employment, conservation, anti-poaching and positive mental health. Aardvark Safaris is undertaking substantial Covid-19 training to understand the situation in each country and the measures being deployed in any public areas and accommodation – even bedrooms on safari are being disinfected up to three times a day and we are only recommending camps and lodges that have these strict policies in place. Our guests have had nothing but praise for the health and safety measures, and delight at how they have some of these pristine wildlife areas to themselves. We are selling safaris to countries that are open and safe. We have the most up to date information on how each country in East and Southern Africa is handling Covid-19 and what protocols are in place. As a specialist African tour operator with incredible contacts on the ground, we are well positioned to help educated clients to make informed decisions on where is best for them to travel with regards to their health and safety. While we do to not encourage or condone behaviour that would be detrimental to public health, it has become clear that the Government's quarantine policy is astonishingly destructive to communities dependent on tourism for their livelihoods. Countries throughout Africa have opened up for international tourism and have all the necessary safety measurements in place. We need a sensible approach going forward which allows air bridges to countries with low case numbers and a form of testing on arrival from other countries to allow people to keep travelling without a prohibitive 14-day quarantine. Alice Gully is co owner of Aardvark Safaris.
The fires that are raging through the Brazilian Pantanal threaten to destroy one of the world’s most beautiful and biodiversity-rich wildernesses.
Beside a Sydney Kingsford Smith check-in desk, a family of four stand giddily clutching their boarding passes. Armed with cameras, selfie sticks and antibacterial wipes, they’re ready to ascend into post-Covid bliss. Simultaneously, at Taipei Taoyuan, a fidgety, socially distanced tour group is shimmying through security, while three hours further north at Tokyo Haneda, a pair of honeymooners dip their surgical facemasks to take a glug of airport lounge bubbles. No, you didn’t miss Grant Shapps’ announcement of Australian, Taiwanese or Japanese travel corridors – Britons may not journey so far east with ease until at least 2021. Instead, here you have the germ of an ugly new travel trend that’s taking off in Asia and the Pacific. The “flight to nowhere” – thought up by airlines to keep their mothballed planes in the sky – is more boomerang than beeline. They’re being marketed as scenic or experiential flights, and last month, EVA and ANA flew around Asian airspace just, well… because. On October 10, Qantas will fly low over the sandstone monolith, Uluru, before taking in the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Then – you guessed it – will land back at Sydney. “It’s probably the fastest-selling flight in Qantas history,” said an airline spokesperson – as Aussie dollar symbols no doubt revolved behind their sunglasses. The plane’s 134 seats, priced between $575 (£445) and $2,765 (£2,145), flew off the shelf in just ten minutes, like hot business class potato cakes. But while Qantas, EVA and ANA are no doubt cock-a-hoop at the prospect of cash flow in slender times, are the vast majority of us allowed to be a tad miffed? The idea of superfluous flights (and their emissions) being catapulted into the atmosphere seems like a well-sanitised finger up at anyone with an iota of concern for our shared environment. I’m not against flying per se – in the grand scheme of things, I believe some air travel is a necessary evil for distributing much needed tourist wealth to parts of the world that desperately need it. As soon as we can, we should travel far and wide, in order to help restore some sort of global economic parity. Countries dependent upon tourism will need visitors. But the idea of self-serving airlines flying around aimlessly leaves a particularly sour taste in the mouth. Qantas say their flights will be carbon offset – but come on, most of us know that offsetting is a façade, designed to purge the middle classes of shame. Not flying in the first place is – unsurprisingly – infinitely better. From the consumer’s perspective, I get the appeal. We are desperate to travel again and enjoy some degree of normality – however, these airlines must act responsibly. This is not a case of “give them what they want” – but another example of powerful lobbies getting away with reckless behaviour. Likewise, the last thing we need now is to bring more people into close proximity than absolutely necessary. Packing passengers into a sightseeing germ-tube seems wholly at odds with today’s status quo. As the travel industry finds its feet, it must recalibrate and rework the old model, in order to come out with something stronger and better fitting for the future. I have optimism for the world we may inherit after all these hardships, but these needless flights are the antithesis of revolution. They’re anachronisms that belong in the 1960s – part of the same era when people still thought smoking was good for their health. Looking down from the perspective of a plane as it spews noxious gas from its rear end is – ironically – the greatest way to see just how fragile and interconnected our planet really is. I’ve lost hours pondering the arid custard sands of North Africa, merging into the green belt of the Equator. I’ve banked over the snowy slopes of the Andes and seen the Amazon rainforest disappear over every horizon. Flying is never not amazing; however, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that every single ticket now comes at a shared, grave cost. As the October 10 Qantas flight swoons over the Great Barrier Reef, will the pilot point out spots of irreparable bleaching? When they depart, as planned, for a scenic flight from Melbourne to the Antarctic in November, will the cabin crew tally up the sheets of broken ice shelf? Will there be any sardonic appreciation for the irony of it all? Flying makes me feel guilty, but that guilt is tempered ever so slightly by knowing I am – at least – flying from A to B. When we reflect in a few years’ time, I hope these flights will be banished, once and for all, to Covid’s Room 101 alongside Zoom quizzes and banana breads.
The Government is changing the rules on travel on a weekly basis and at extremely short notice – yesterday, for example, Slovenia was added to the quarantine list, with travellers arriving in Britain from the country after 4am tomorrow needing to self-isolate. Now, local lockdowns and the possibility of wider restrictions in this country are threatening to have a serious impact on our freedom to go on holiday. So should you give up on all ideas of an autumn break? Or is there a way of navigating around the problems?
Ever booked a trip somewhere after reading its outstanding Wikipedia page? Economists have found that adding a few extra paragraphs and pictures to a town or city's Wiki page could increase tourism by nine per cent (sometimes more) and boost revenue by up to £100,000. The research carried out by the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, Italy, and NEW in Mannheim, Germany randomly selected several Spanish cities and edited half of their Wikipedia pages. They added high-quality photos and extra information on history and local attractions, whilst measuring tourist numbers before and after. The text wasn't always new; most of the content added was simply translated over from the Spanish Wikipedia into either French, German, Italian or Dutch, so no experts were needed. The results were impressive. Adding just two paragraphs of text and a single photo to the article increased the number of nights spent in the city by almost 10 per cent during peak season, and for cities with little information a minor edit was said to raise visits by up to a third. Authors of the study, Marit Hinnosaar, Toomas Hinnosaar, Michael Kummer and Olga Slivko, say that the impact of extending this to the entire tourism industry would be large. "Its impact could be in billions of euros," they wrote.
A-wk-wk-wocka-wocka-wocka-wocka-chk. A-wk-wk-wocka-wocka-wocka-wocka-chk. Weow-da-wow-wow-wow-da-weow, weow-da-wow-weh. Weow-da-wow-wow-wow-da-weow, weow-da-wow-weh. Weow-da-wow-wow-wow-da-weow, weow-da-wow-weh. Weow-da-wow-wow-wow-da-weow, weow-da-wow-wow, we-waddar-wum. Whooomph.