Holiday curbs to last beyond Freedom Day, leak suggests

·29-min read
heathrow -  ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE
heathrow - ANDY RAIN/EPA-EFE

Travel restrictions could long far beyond 'Freedom Day' on July 19, according to newly leaked Whitehall documents.

Ministers are mulling proposals for a slew of 'long-term' measures to help Britain cope with Covid after the final stage of reopening, the documents, seen by Politico, reveal.

In a further blow for the beleaguered travel industry, the report warns that stringent border controls and post-travel isolation will be needed 'for a significant period' to prevent new variants from overseas from taking hold.

No decisions have been made but it's more evidence that suggests foreign holidays could be off the cards for some time.

Next week (June 24) the public is expecting a second review of the traffic light ratings, but, says our consumer expert Nick Trend, "it seems unlikely that ministers will decide to start taking the brakes off international travel when they have only just postponed the lifting of restrictions in England."

Scroll down for more on this, and other top travel stories.

05:00 PM

What happened today

Thank you for joining us today. Here's a recap of the main stories:

  • Holiday curbs to last beyond Freedom Day, leak suggests

  • Europe eases Covid restrictions early while UK extends lockdown

  • EasyJet switches planes to Germany

  • Portugal ready to roll out EU Covid Certificate

  • Europe to lift US travel ban this week

  • Thailand leads the way for Asia tourism return

04:48 PM

Inside the exquisite Swiss mansion where Putin and Biden met today

Today’s summit with Biden and Putin, arguably the world’s two most influential living presidents, was held at Villa La Grange in Geneva.

The historic lakeside house was considered suitably neutral for this much-anticipated meeting – but its decor is far from bland, writes Francesca Syz.

The estate in which it sits was created in the 1660s by merchant Jacques Francois. Banker Marc Lullin bought it from him in 1706 and in the 1760s three of his sons built the French-style mansion that stands today, as the family summer residence.

Francesca has more on its fascinating history, here.

Villa La Grange - FABRICE COFFRINI
Villa La Grange - FABRICE COFFRINI

04:36 PM

Europe eases Covid restrictions early while UK extends lockdown

Germany is to end compulsory working from home and France is to lift its face mask requirement in public as much of Europe presses ahead with reopening amid falling coronavirus infections.

While the UK faces another four weeks of restrictions after the Government postponed “Freedom Day” to July 19, across much of continental Europe life is swiftly heading back to normal.

The German weekly infection rate has fallen to just 2.057, compared to 7,509 in the UK. Almost 49% of Germans have received their first jab, and 27.6% are fully vaccinated.

France, meanwhile, is to end mask-wearing in public on Thursday and lift a night-time curfew this Sunday, 10 days earlier than expected.

“The health situation is improving faster than we had hoped. We haven't seen such a low infection rate since last August," Jean Castex, the French prime minister, said, adding that the daily figure for new Covid cases had fallen below 5,000 nationwide with no "worrying dynamic" and that intensive care occupancy had now fallen to below 2,000.

Read the full story here.

04:24 PM

Poll: 82% of UK travellers already planning 2022 trips

Britons are itching to get away, and they're planning for the future. New research from flight comparison site Skyscanner found that 82% of travellers are thinking about their 2022 travel plans and long-haul trips will be the most popular (34%).

After a year of rescheduling and changing travel plans, a massive 63% of those surveyed revealed they are already putting money away for a 2022 trip. A third (33%) said they planned to go away for more than two weeks, and over a quarter (28%) revealed they are planning to spend more than they normally would.

The top 8 searched forign destinations for 2022 over the last month are as follows:

  1. Orlando

  2. Bangkok

  3. New York

  4. Sydney

  5. Tenerife

  6. Geneva

  7. Miami

  8. Tokyo

04:13 PM

Europe to lift US travel ban this week

European Union governments have voted to lift travel restrictions for US residents, in an update to the bloc's 'white list'. The move will end quarantine for all transatlantic visitors, regardless of their vaccination status, and allow non-essential travel across the EU.

Ambassadors from the EU's 27 countries approved the addition at a meeting today, with the change to take effect in the coming days.

Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan will also be added, while Chinese administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau will be included with a requirement for reciprocity removed.

While some EU member states already allow vaccinated Americans to visit, inclusion in the list means that restrictions will be lifted across the bloc. However, transatlantic travel would not fully open until the US reciprocates; it currently restricts most EU residents from entering the country.

03:56 PM

Calls for Britons to clean up their act

As drivers take to the South West for their staycations this summer, Highways England is issuing advice to keep the region’s roadsides clear of litter.

At the onset of the pandemic last year, Highways England funded and delivered a scheme to install bins and signage in a number of laybys on routes across the South West, one of the UK's most popular holiday spots, but local authorities are still reporting a staggering amount of litter being cleared around their roads.

Need proof? Here’s some shocking statistics from this year alone:

  • Wiltshire Council has collected 2,215 bags of litter and 22 vehicle tyres (around 29 tonnes of rubbish), including 981 bags from the A36 and A303

  • An estimated 20 tonnes of litter, tyres, car bumpers and signage were swept and removed from Cornwall’s trunk roads in a six-week clean-up that started in mid-April.

  • Plymouth City Council has collected over 6 tonnes of waste from verges along the A38 and slip roads – a stretch of just eight miles

  • Over the last month, Highways England has also swept up 300 bags of rubbish along the M4 and 200 bags from the M5

03:46 PM

Work to pedestrianise Oxford Circus to begin this summer

oxford circus - Westminster City Council/PA
oxford circus - Westminster City Council/PA

The area around London's famous Oxford Circus is to be transformed into two pedestrianised "piazzas" after years of deliberation, reports the PA.

The changes will include "significant improvements to the public spaces" as well as additional planting and seating, Westminster City Council and the Crown Estate announced on Wednesday. Work is due to start later this year

Pedestrianising the area has been a debate among local councils for many years, going back as far as the 1980s, due to the poor air quality, congestion and busy traffic in the area.

03:31 PM

Is this the UK’s most artistic swimming pool? Maybe

The heated Gateway swimming pool at Jupiter Artland, a contemporary sculpture garden on the outskirts of Edinburgh, could quite well be the UK’s fanciest swimming pool.

What’s more, the nine-metre pool, which opened to members in 2019, will once again open to the public on Monday. Fancy a dip?

Gateway Swimming Pool, Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh - Duncan McGlynn
Gateway Swimming Pool, Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh - Duncan McGlynn

03:18 PM

The best alternatives to the UK's busiest beaches

Looking for a more secluded seaside staycation? Swap busy shores for hidden sands this summer – here are some of our favourite best-kept secret beaches.

The UK has lots of lovely, uncrowded beaches – if you know where to look
The UK has lots of lovely, uncrowded beaches – if you know where to look

03:02 PM

A giant face mask for Japan's Buddhist statue

Workers have scaled a giant statue of a Buddhist goddess in Japan to place a custom-made mask on her face, an act of prayer for the end of the pandemic.

People visit the figure, which holds a baby, to pray for the safe delivery of babies and to ask for blessings for their newborns - Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin via Reuters
People visit the figure, which holds a baby, to pray for the safe delivery of babies and to ask for blessings for their newborns - Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin via Reuters

It took four workers three hours to carry the massive mask on ropes up the 57 m-high (187 ft) white statue of the Buddhist goddess Kannon – the Goddess of Mercy – at the Houkokuji Aizu Betsuin temple in Fukushima Prefecture.

They then unfurled the mask made with pink net fabric, measuring 4.1 m by 5.3 m and weighing 35 kg (77 pounds), across the lower half of the statue's face.

The statue, built 33 years ago, is hollow with a spiral staircase that can be climbed to the height of the goddess's shoulder - OISO ALL SUPPORT via Reuters
The statue, built 33 years ago, is hollow with a spiral staircase that can be climbed to the height of the goddess's shoulder - OISO ALL SUPPORT via Reuters

02:43 PM

Bounce-back for Greece tourism

Air traffic in Greece picked up strongly in May as the government eased restrictions on travel at the start of the vital summer tourist season, new civil aviation authority data shows.

International arrivals jumped more than 25-fold in May: to 383,107, from just 14,273 a year earlier, the figures showed.

Greece, which generates around a fifth of its economic output from tourism, suffered its most severe fall on record in 2020 as the coronavirus halted international travel, with arrivals down 75 per cent from the previous year.

This year, as vaccination campaigns in Greece and many other countries have picked up, the government is expecting a 50 per cent rise on last year's levels.

Overall traffic at Greek airports was still down 48% for the first five months of the year, the figures showed.

02:30 PM

Watch: The one thing we definitely don't miss about Australia...

A blanket of spider webs has been seen billowing over the grasslands of Victoria, as shown in an eyewitness video taken on Gippsland.

Thousands of spiders and their webs have blanketed bushland in Australia's state of Victoria, after heavy rain and flooding hit the region:

02:11 PM

22 reasons why a trip to Wales is better than a holiday in the Med

Eat your heart out, Canaries - iStock
Eat your heart out, Canaries - iStock

With 2021 set to be another summer of staycations, this could be the year that more Britons than ever before discover Wales's many charms – from the Pembrokeshire coast and the mountains of Snowdonia, to its friendly villages and adrenaline-fuelled attractions.

Here are 22 reasons why you should forget the Med and head to Wales instead this summer.

01:46 PM

Hebrides wildlife damaged by disposable BBQs

One of Europe's rarest habitats on the idyllic Isle of Harris is being damaged by disposable barbecues, writes Sarah Ward.

Patches of the low-lying grasslands, known as Machair, at Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, have been damaged with "alarming frequency" due to a boom in domestic tourists.

The dunes are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Scottish Natural Heritage, as well as being classified as a National Scenic Area. Common flowers such as red clover, bird's-foot-trefoil, yarrow and daisies are usually found on machair but rarer species such as lesser-butterfly orchid, Hebridean spotted orchid and marsh orchid are sometimes found.

'Machair' is the Gaelic word for fertile, low-lying grassy plain, with the habitats only found on the exposed west-facing shores of Scotland and Ireland - Getty
'Machair' is the Gaelic word for fertile, low-lying grassy plain, with the habitats only found on the exposed west-facing shores of Scotland and Ireland - Getty

Anger was expressed on social media after one commentator suggested "it's only grass and will grow back". In response, a post by the administrator of the Luskentyre Beach - Isle of Harris Facebook group said: "This is severely missing the point but probably comes through a lack of education on environmental considerations.

"These designations are there to reflect the rare flora and fauna of the area and a desire to protect them in their natural state." The plea for people not to light fires was not to "spoil fun, but to protect this very delicate eco-system".

01:27 PM

Cumbrae, not Cumbria! The Scottish island fighting for its identity

This Victorian holiday resort in the Firth of Clyde is eager to entice visitors back to its tranquil shores, writes Robin McKelvie:

Cumbrae, Scotland’s most accessible island, is alive with gin, wildlife, beaches and staycation-making epic landscapes. Heading back there recently I found a community fighting not only for its place on the map, but also its very survival. I also found something elusive in these fraught times – Zen.

First things first, Cumbrae is not a single island; it’s a glorious Firth of Clyde twin. Grand-sounding Great Cumbrae is a fertile wee emerald, rich in farmland and rolling hills; more Borders than Highlands. It’s fringed with beaches too. Brutish sibling Little Cumbrae is a rugged monster bursting from the Clyde, defiantly Hebridean: all gnarly cliffs and rock-slashed coast. Together, quite a combo. I scarcely have time to take anything in on the 10-minute ferry hop from Largs, but there is enough to fire up my imagination: isles this small and perfectly formed are straight out of Treasure Island.

Read the full story, here.

cumbrae - John Guidi/robertharding
cumbrae - John Guidi/robertharding

01:15 PM

Portugal ready to roll out EU Covid Certificate

President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the "good news" on Twitter.

The certificate aims to create safe and free movement within the EU for EU citizens during the pandemic, and will exempt them from restrictions such as quarantine.

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01:05 PM

Comment: The end of travel shaming is here, thanks to the ineptitude of the Government

A travel policy that does not hold water means it is fair game to ignore the advice, argues Hugh Morris:

I have no real interest in shaming people, but had someone told me last summer they were slinking off for a secret week on some European beach where Covid rates were soaring without the approval of a travel corridor, I would have definitely raised an eyebrow.

An eyebrow that said, do you really think, mid-pandemic, when we have cases just about under control here, that that is the best idea? Priorities, said the eyebrow.

Travel shaming was all the rage back then, when the Covid crisis was still in its relative infancy, and when the most sanctimonious targeted anyone who visited their local park, let alone jetted off for a fortnight in the sun. I would never endorse the former, but some bordered on selfish in terms of the latter.

In a world of uncertainty, it felt like those who travelled against Government advice could be appropriately accused of recklessness. Today, it is a different story.

Read on, here.

12:54 PM

UK shunned from EU safe travel list

British tourists face continued restrictions on travelling to the EU this summer, even as the bloc opens up to citizens of other countries, including the US.

Eight countries are to be added to a list of nations from where the EU says non-essential travel is safe - but the UK has not been included.

Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Lebanon, the US, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong will join Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China on a 'white list'.

Our coronavirus live blog has more.

12:43 PM

Thailand to reopen to visitors within 120 days

Thailand will reopen to visitors within 120 days after more than a year of Covid-19 travel restrictions, a "calculated risk" needed to resuscitate its struggling economy, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said.

Prayuth said that the country plans to administer an average of 10 million vaccine doses each month from July, and aims to reopen the tourism-reliant country to fully vaccinated travellers, local and foreign, without a quarantine requirement, Reuters reports.

He said: “Re-opening the country is one of the important ways to start reducing the enormous suffering of people who have lost their ability to earn an income. When we take into consideration the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take that calculated risk."

He said he aimed to declare Thailand fully open within 120 days and for tourism centres that are ready “to do so even faster”.

It will start with a pilot reopening from 1 July on its most popular island, Phuket, which has been vaccinating most of its local population. Thailand lost about $50 billion in tourism revenue last year - an 82 per cent plunge.

12:31 PM

A fresh start for sea turtles in Dubai

The UAE's Jumeirah hotel group has today released 30 rehabilitated sea turtles into the Gulf sea, as part of its Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project:

The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project features a state-of-the-art sea-fed lagoon for the animals - Jumeirah
The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project features a state-of-the-art sea-fed lagoon for the animals - Jumeirah

Since the programme's inception in 2004, it has released almost 2,000 turtles – mostly hawksbills and greens, but also loggerheads and olive ridley turtles.

12:21 PM

Why does Wales want to charge visitors a 'tourism tax'?

Yesterday, we brought you the news that Wales may introduce a tourism tax – a levy on visitors to the country. The proposed amount is unknown, but First Minister Mark Drakeford said it would be 'modest'.

Here, he explains why such a levy is essential for Wales to recover post-pandemic:

It is about giving the power and the authority to local authorities in Wales to make a decision for themselves as to whether or not a tourism levy would allow them better to go on investing in the circumstances that make those areas attractive to tourism.

I'm very clear in my own mind that a tourism tax, properly done, will benefit the industry because what it will allow those local authorities to do is to invest in the things that make those areas attractive to tourists in the first place.

At the moment, it is those local resident populations who pay for everything. They pay for the toilets, they pay for the car parks, they pay for the local museum, they pay for the local festival - anything that is put there to attract people into the area, it is those local residents who bear the cost in full.

A tourism levy, charged on people who choose to go to those areas, in a very modest way, when you add it all up, could be a significant opportunity for local authorities to invest in the conditions that make tourism a success.

12:05 PM

Starmer claims border decision has 'blown' UK roadmap plan

Boris Johnson's indecision over securing the UK's borders has "blown" his Covid-19 road map to freedom, according to Sir Keir Starmer.

At today's PMQs, the Labour leader repeatedly pressed the Prime Minister to explain the UK's high rates of the Delta variant first identified in India, which has been blamed for the four-week delay on easing restrictions.

Starmer also suggested the amber travel list, which includes France and Spain, should be scrapped and replaced by an approved list and a banned list of countries, in a bid to "save the British summer".

The Balearic islands are currently on the amber list - Bav Media
The Balearic islands are currently on the amber list - Bav Media

But Johnson defended the UK's approach and claimed his Government acted swiftly to ban travel with India.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Starmer said: "We all want these restrictions to be over, for our economy to be open, for businesses to thrive – but the Prime Minister's indecision at the borders has blown it."

Mr Johnson could be heard shouting "rubbish", before Starmer added: "And the problem with everything the Prime Minister says today, is that we've heard it all before so many times."

11:49 AM

Meet the 'amber gamblers' who have ventured abroad

... but was it worth it? Three Telegraph Travel readers shared their verdict on recent trips to amber-listed Greece, Portugal and Montenegro.

“Honestly it was bliss,” said Alenka, who took her family to Greece.

'Most of our friends said ‘good for you for making it happen – who knows when the next opportunity would be?’
'Most of our friends said ‘good for you for making it happen – who knows when the next opportunity would be?’

11:23 AM

What are our prospects for a summer holiday abroad?

With domestic restrictions set to continue until at least July 19, our chances of travelling to the Med this summer look vanishingly small, writes our consumer editor Nick Trend.

Next week we are expecting the second review of the traffic light ratings. I hate to strike a negative note, but when the announcement is made on Thursday (June 24), I just can’t see the Government deciding to give the green light to any significant destinations.

I really hope I’m wrong. After all, logic would say that the situation is looking more positive than ever from a travel point of view. According to the raw data, infection rates across the whole of western Europe (bar Georgia) are now lower than they are in the UK. And while, across the Channel, they are mostly falling, here they have been rising for the last month. Frankly, heading for the continent looks like a safer bet than staying at home.

Read the full piece.

11:03 AM

Taj Mahal reopens to tourists

India's Taj Mahal has today reopened to visitors, after authorities in Agra eased the state's Covid-19 restrictions.

A group of tourists pose with the world-famous mausoleum - AFP
A group of tourists pose with the world-famous mausoleum - AFP

10:47 AM

The most likely contenders for the 'green list' in August

Could the Canary Isles be an option? - TUI
Could the Canary Isles be an option? - TUI

The mood music is saying we won’t be jetting off in July – so where should you book for August? Telegraph Travel's Greg Dickinson investigates:

A number of international tourist officials have told The Telegraph that they have received messages from UK Foreign Office officials, advising them not to expect the lifting of travel restrictions out of the UK until the beginning of August.

So where are your safest bets for an overseas holiday booking in August? There are four highly-likely additions to the green list in late summer – where vaccine rates are soaring and cases are reassuringly low.

Here's where to go – and the best holidays to book now.

10:24 AM

World’s largest tall ship cruise hit by 'Freedom Day' delays

The extension of Covid restrictions until July 19 has claimed its first cruise victim, writes Dave Monk.

A 'dress rehearsal' voyage of Golden Horizon, the world’s largest tall ship, which was due to commence next Tuesday, has been cancelled because the sold-out sailing would breach the limit of 50 per cent capacity on cruise ships that had been expected to end on Monday.

The scheduled sailing of the world’s largest tall ship has been postponed - Tradewind Voyages
The scheduled sailing of the world’s largest tall ship has been postponed - Tradewind Voyages

Instead of sailing a six-day round trip from Portsmouth, the 272-passenger ship has now changed course on the way from its yard in Croatia to head for Portland, Dorset, instead. The following scheduled sailing, on June 28, to Harwich, has also disappeared from the Portsmouth cruise departures site.

The ship’s inaugural round-Britain voyage, on July 1, has also been affected by the Holyrood government’s ban on cruise ships calling at Scottish ports.

Operator Tradewind Voyages is due to outline the complete changes to Golden Horizon’s schedules tomorrow.

10:10 AM

Aer Lingus postpones transatlantic route launch

Due to the ongoing transatlantic travel restrictions, Aer Lingus is postponing the commencement of its new services between Manchester Airport and New York JFK and Orlando.

Both flight routes were due to be launched on July 29, but have been rescheduled for September 30. The Manchester-Barbados service will commence on October 20, as originally planned.

All affected customers will be offered a full refund, re-accommodation on an alternative service, or the option of a voucher with an additional 10 per cent value – for use across the Aer Lingus network over the next five years.

09:58 AM

'The only thing I miss about being in Blighty? The English'

Annabel and her new-found holiday friends
Annabel and her new-found holiday friends

'Having relocated to Germany, I'm starved of British company – with its sarcasm, polite scrutiny and day-drinking,' says Annabel Fenwick-Elliott – but there's hope in sight:

“Sorry, I’m English.” It’s been my conversation opener in almost every encounter I’ve had since I ventured to Germany a month ago to be with my fiancé, Julius. I knew the language barrier would be frustrating, and it is – I hardly speak a word of his native tongue, not even enough to make small talk, rendering me a burden to everyone I interact with.

But it’s not just the language I miss from back home. It certainly isn’t the rammed beaches and litter-strewn parks that will host millions of staycations this summer. Surprisingly, it is the people. And not just the people I know, for that goes without saying. But rather, the public.

Would you miss the British public?

09:46 AM

Ursula von der Leyen poses with EU's Covid passport

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a mobile phone as she gives a statement about the EU Digital COVID Certificate in Brussels  - JOHANNA GERON/SHUTTERSTOCK
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a mobile phone as she gives a statement about the EU Digital COVID Certificate in Brussels - JOHANNA GERON/SHUTTERSTOCK

The EU Digital COVID Certificate will be available to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated – as well as those who have tested negative for the virus, or have proof they have recovered from it.

09:25 AM

The off-grid corner of Wales that still has availability for this summer

Wales's Tywi valley is a near-Nordic vision of spruce forest, sapphire-blue waters and fjord-like twists and turns - Getty
Wales's Tywi valley is a near-Nordic vision of spruce forest, sapphire-blue waters and fjord-like twists and turns - Getty

'Abergwesyn doesn’t give a damn about the 21st century – so ditch your phone and make a beeline for the uncrowded, wild heart of Wales,' says Kerry Walker:

We stop at the first viewpoint and sit and picnic on the riverbank, dangling our feet in the chilly, copper-coloured water, skimming stones. Foxgloves peek out of the hedgerows and the air smells heavily of pollen, hay and all good summer things.

While the word is out that Wales is expecting a deluge of holidaymakers desperate for a staycation, Abergwesyn clearly hasn’t got the memo: it is utterly peaceful. Just one other campervan is parked up beside the river. There are precious few tourists here...

It's summer staycation heaven.

09:11 AM

Ryanair calls on Government to allow vaccinated Britons to fly to/from the EU

The UK travel policy is a confusing “go-stop-go-stop” system, which is doing untold damage to the tourism industry, says Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary.

In a statement released today, the airline boss said:

The UK’s Covid travel policy is a shambles. The Green List is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower Covid case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on Amber.

Meanwhile, UK citizens – almost 80% of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June – continue to face Covid restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.

UK tourism and aviation needs a pragmatic travel policy, which permits vaccinated UK and EU citizens to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine or negative PCR tests. This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work. It is time for Boris Johnson to end his gross mismanagement of Covid and the recovery from Covid.

08:43 AM

France in 40 minutes aboard the cross-Channel ‘flying ferries’

The ferries of the future will be able to “fly” across the sea like hovercrafts and could be crossing the Channel in seven years.

Brittany Ferries, which sails cruises between Portsmouth, Plymouth, France and Spain, has announced it is starting work on a new electric-powered “Seaglider”.

An illustration issued by Brittany Ferries showing the Brittany Ferries ship the Normandie Express alongside a 'seaglider' - Brittany Ferries
An illustration issued by Brittany Ferries showing the Brittany Ferries ship the Normandie Express alongside a 'seaglider' - Brittany Ferries

The futuristic vessel will be based on hydrofoil technology, which lifts surfboards and smaller boats out of the water using air pressure and underwater wings.

The new craft is expected to be able to travel at speeds of up to 180mph, making it more than six times faster than conventional ferries. This could cut the crossing time for passengers from Cherbourg in France from three hours to just 40 minutes.

Mike Wright has the full story

08:27 AM

One-third of Britons have 'no plans for overseas travel this year'

Latest consumer research shows that Britons are shunning overseas travel this year in favour of staycations and day trips. UserTesting research reveals over one-third of respondents have 'no plans for overseas travel this year,' with nearly three-quarters considering staycations instead.

Only 1 in 10 Brits feel confident about an overseas holiday this year, according to a recent study conducted by YouGov. The market research company polled more than 4,250 adults and found three-quarters were not confident about an overseas holiday, while just 8 per cent already had a booking.

This sentiment was reinforced by qualitative findings from UserTesting, which revealed that most travellers are exercising caution, with 93 percent of women and 86 percent of men planning day trips, while 86 percent of women and 60 percent of men consider staycations as a preferred option.

When it comes to overseas travel, 73 percent felt moderately cautious to very cautious about overseas travel, with 33 percent of women and 40 percent of men stating that they have no plans for international travel this year.

Consumer sentiment findings conducted by Visit Britain, the nation's official tourism board, has also reported a surge in staycations and day trips. It found 18 percent of Brits will take more UK holidays now compared to just 12 percent in June 2020, while 31 percent said their UK holidays would be about the same, compared to 25 percent in June last year.

08:08 AM

Thailand leads the way for Asia tourism return

Thailand’s plan to reopen the tourist haven of Phuket could become a model for other holiday hotspots in Asia to bring in visitors as strategies such as travel bubbles falter, according to the founder of Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd.

Tourism-reliant Thailand aims to allow quarantine-free travel to its prime destination from July 1 for the first time in more than a year, provided visitors are inoculated against Covid-19 and aren’t coming from high-risk countries.

The so-called Phuket Sandbox plan is dependent on the vaccination rate among the island’s residents hitting at least 70%. It currently stands at about 60%, far higher than the 5% nationwide, after a concerted push to get locals vaccinated.

Phuket's economy has been devastated by travel curbs - Getty
Phuket's economy has been devastated by travel curbs - Getty

“Every government is beginning to feel around on how to open up, and the Phuket Sandbox is really a viable way now because even the travel bubbles that people talked about didn’t take place,” Banyan Tree Executive Chairman Ho Kwon Ping said in an interview on Monday. “It’s the first time anywhere east of the Maldives that you have a country with this population size with such a low vaccination rate actually opening up to the rest of the world.”

Asia has been slow to reopen due to sluggish vaccine rollouts. Many countries also still only allow residents to enter and enforce strict lockdowns in a bid to keep Covid cases at or close to zero. Hong Kong and Singapore have been trying to open a quarantine-free travel corridor for months, but outbreaks have so far scuppered plans.

08:03 AM

'I paid for travel, testing and then quarantined, just so my friend could have her 'big day' abroad'

'Shortly before I set off, a sense of travel anxiety began to creep in' - Seyi Aleshe
'Shortly before I set off, a sense of travel anxiety began to creep in' - Seyi Aleshe

It's a lot to ask of your guests, but Yolanthe Fawehinmi explains why she said 'yes' to attending an amber-list wedding:

I am currently on day eight of a 10-day quarantine, holed up in my south London home. No, I didn’t get pinged by Test and Trace, nor have I had any symptoms. What happened was I attended a wedding – abroad.

My friends Tosan, 26, and Aisha, 24, were getting married. After meeting through their church in 2017, they got engaged in November 2019 and, pandemic or no pandemic, were determined to go ahead with their wedding this summer. But instead of keeping it small, local and lockdown-compliant, they went for the big fat Greek option instead...

'I would do it all again in a heartbeat'

07:30 AM

Nicola Sturgeon blames UK border controls as she delays Scotland's lockdown release date

Mainland Scotland will not move down to the lowest level of Covid restrictions for at least five weeks, Nicola Sturgeon has disclosed as she delayed once more the easing of lockdown.

Blaming the postponement of her lockdown timetable on the UK Government, she said there was "no doubt at all" that lax UK border controls contributed to the rise of the Indian variant. The First Minister said the failure to introduce tougher rules was "deeply frustrating" and suggested the country was now "paying a price" for it.

Attacking the UK Government's refusal to introduce hotel quarantine earlier this year for international arrivals from all countries, she said: "The lack of very robust border controls in recent months has, I think has been a factor in the situation that we're dealing with right now and that is deeply frustrating we are where we are."

07:27 AM

EasyJet switches planes to Germany as Europe opens up to foreign travel

EasyJet said Europe 'is demonstrating that a safe reopening of travel is possible' - Getty
EasyJet said Europe 'is demonstrating that a safe reopening of travel is possible' - Getty

EasyJet, Britain's biggest budget airline, has moved its planes from the UK to Germany because Europe is opening up to foreign travel faster than the UK.

The airline has switched planes that would have transported British holidaymakers to Europe to Berlin, from where they will fly Germans and other tourists to Spain.

The move will sound further alarm bells in the travel industry that the UK is in danger of losing out to its European counterparts economically as they open up to international travel more quickly.

Most of the main Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, have opened to tourists who can either prove they have been vaccinated, have a negative PCR test or evidence of immunity through having contracted Covid.

Charles Hymas has the full story.

07:17 AM

Tuesday's headlines

Before we begin, here's a quick recap of yesterday's top stories:

  • Wales considers introducing a 'tourism tax'

  • Scotland travel rules should be stricter, says MSP

  • Celebrity Cruises cancels Greenock stop following Scottish ban

  • Ferry company to launch temporary Wales–Northern Ireland link

  • First international cruise ship docks in Spain after ban lifted

  • Demand surges for holidays to green-listed Iceland and Gibraltar

Now, on with today's travel news.

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