Portugal likely to miss out as details of ‘air bridge’ deals emerge

Britons will have to wait to return to the Algarve – istock Portugal is the

Britons will have to wait to return to the Algarve - istock
Britons will have to wait to return to the Algarve – istock

Portugal is the most popular destination for British holidaymakers likely to miss out on the first wave of air bridge agreements set to be announced this weekend. 

The country’s tourist board is likely to be deeply disappointed. Luis Araujo, chief executive of Visit Portugal, this week told the Telegraph that he was optimistic the UK would be “fully confident” for Britons to return. “We are very excited to be welcoming them back,” he said. Portugal welcomed 2.5million visitors from the UK last year. 

However, according to sources, the country’s recent spike in coronavirus cases has meant Portugal will have to wait before enjoying friction-less travel with the UK. 

Turkey, Croatia and the US are three other popular destinations not to be included in the first tranche of deals.

France, Spain and Italy, however, will be included in the first deals, allowing the return of travellers for the first time since March. 

Follow the latest news below

01:48 PM

Amsterdam considers out-of-town ‘erotic zone’ to deter rowdy tourists

Rodney Bolt reports:

Visitors to Amsterdam may soon be required to pay €50 (£45) for a passport to stay overnight. And they may be able to visit a purpose-built theme park housing the red-light district, marijuana ‘coffeeshops’, and all-night bars.

These are just two of the ideas being proposed in response to mayor Femke Halsema’s call for plans for a new way forward for tourism in Amsterdam.

Mayor Halsema’s new vision aims to preserve quality of life for Amsterdammers, and put a halt to ravages of the city’s quiet charm, favouring visitors who come to Amsterdam for its art, history and cultural abundance over the good-time, beer-and-spliff brigade.

Read the full report.

01:23 PM

Colombia eyes up tourism restart 

While no-one is suggesting that the Covid-19 crisis is over, the conversation in Europe has at least moved on to how life may be once the virus has receded. Travel has reemerged as a genuine possibility rather than a vague theory, with Spain reopening its borders last weekend, and Malta announcing that it will do the same thing from July 1.

So spare a thought for South America, where travellers on the road back to some sort of normality have further to go. This week, Colombia has announced that it is taking the chains off its borders. However, the key will not turn fully in the lock until September 1. 

Read the full story.

A mural in Bogota
A mural in Bogota

01:22 PM

Irish air bridge ‘not likely before mid-July’

There is no chance of travel restrictions in Ireland lifting ahead of schedule, with the middle of July the most likely date.

This is according to a report in the Irish Times, which quotes a government source as saying that despite the talk of ‘air bridges’ Ireland plans to remain in lockdown in terms of international movement. 

“The mood music has definitely changed and air bridges are being looked at in a very meaningful way but there is still no chance restrictions will be lifted on July 1,” the source said. “We realise we are behind the European Union but it still won’t happen quickly.”

The country is set to move into a new phase of lockdown on Monday, with bars and restaurants able to reopen and travel restrictions within Ireland lifted. 

01:21 PM

Why might Portugal be snubbed?

When it comes to air bridges, Spain, Italy, Greece and France have got the all-clear. But what about Portugal? Oliver Smith writes:

Perhaps the most surprising omission is Portugal. The country is Britain’s oldest ally (634 years and counting) and is heavily reliant on free spending UK sunseekers. Around 2.5m of us visit each year, with the Algarve being the big draw, and back in February the country even suggested it would subsidise UK holidaymakers after Brexit to make sure they keep coming. 

Furthermore, it has been widely praised for its handling of coronavirus. Just over 150 deaths per million residents have been recorded in Portugal, putting it well ahead of Spain (606), Italy (573) and, indeed, the UK (647). Should its exclusion be confirmed, it would appear to have been punished for a recent spike in cases. The capital, Lisbon, and its surrounding metropolitan area, woke up on Tuesday to increased restrictions and more power for police to enforce them following a series of illegal parties, some attended by as many as 1,000 revellers. Its links with Brazil, where deaths are still spiralling, could also be a factor. 

01:02 PM

Should I book my holiday now?

Telegraph Travel has run through eight unanswered questions lingering ahead of the UK Government’s likely announcement on air bridges this weekend.

Greg Dickinson writes:

Does this mean I can book my holiday now? Well, not exactly. The Foreign Office still warns against all but essential travel (something which is “under constant review”), and the above lists have been revealed to the Telegraph via a Government source, not yet formally announced. The announcement is expected on or before June 29, and holidays to those destinations are expected to resume on July 4.

However, given the numerous about-turns performed by the Government during the Covid-19 crisis, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to learn that one of the countries in the aforementioned ‘Phase One’ list of air bridges is omitted. Italy’s Foreign Minister, Luigi di Maio, has previously said bilateral agreements on tourist flows are “against the EU’s spirit”, for example. The pandemic is ever-changing and it would not be unimaginable to learn Italy, or indeed any of the countries mentioned, had stepped away from UK air bridge negotiations. Sudden spikes of Covid-19 cases are also of course an enduring possibility.

It is also possible that the date when holidays officially resume is not July 4 but rather a date slightly further in the future – the following week, perhaps.

Read the full story. 

12:36 PM

In bloom: Hydrangeas lure visitors in Tokyo

 Visitors to Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo are enjoying hydrangeas in bloom as rainy season arrives in Japan. The country is bracing itself against a potential second wave of coronavirus cases. 

hydrangeas - Shutterstock
hydrangeas – Shutterstock
Visitors wear face masks on their way through 10,000 hydrangea plants - Shutterstock
Visitors wear face masks on their way through 10,000 hydrangea plants – Shutterstock

12:24 PM

‘I’m scared of the foreigners now’

Not every is excited about the return of tourism. On Corfu, there are mixed feelings. 

Anastasia Miari writes: 

“Is the reward worth the risk?,” says UK events organiser Christopher Gardner, living in the south of Corfu. “I’ve already lost a friend in the UK aged 42, so even if I’m going to lose out this summer, I just don’t think we should open to tourists.”

For some of the island’s residents, the threat of an outbreak and the loss of lives is a much greater risk than the loss of a summer season. “I’m scared of the foreigners now. Before I would try and speak to them in the street, now I don’t even go near Greeks that have arrived from Athens,” says 85-year-old pensioner, Anastasia Kabbadias. 

Corfu hospital has just five ICU beds. In the event of a potential outbreak on the island – one of Greece’s largest –those that need critical care may need to be transported to Ioannina, on the mainland. 

Read the full story.

12:04 PM

What is an air bridge, anyway?

If all this talk of air bridges has you in a flutter, Telegraph Travel’s Greg Dickinson has the lowdown on all the runners and riders. 

See here for a comprehensive guide on the whats, whens, hows and whys of your holiday lifeline.  

11:51 AM

Holiday searches for Spain spike

TravelSupermarket has reported a surge in traffic from British holidaymakers looking for trips to Spain this summer, as a possible air bridge agreement appears on the horizon. 

Searches for package holidays to Majorca are up 102 per cent the last fortnight compared to the first two weeks of June, 86 per cent up for the Balearics and 55 per cent up to Costa del Sol. Conversely, the comparison website said, searches for the US are down 22 per cent

Tenerife, Corfu and Rhodes have also seen rises in interest. 

Emma Coulthurst from TravelSupermarket said that there had also been large growth in searches for UK holidays after the Government announced the reopening of the tourism industry from July 4. Searches for UK cottages are up 141 per cent this week compared to last. Car hire bookings are up 41 per cent.

11:37 AM

Air travel on the rise in Europe

With all the talk of the air bridge deals that might be in place next week, it is worth noting that planes are already returning to European skies. According to Eurocontrol, which monitors air traffic across the Continent, yesterday saw 9,000 aircraft airborne for the first time since March.

11:24 AM

Refunds within 14 days, British Airways holidays promises customers

The package arm of British Airways has launched a “customer promise” that includes several measures it says will help customers book their holidays in confidence. 

British Airways Holidays says anyone who books a trip before August 31 for travel up to next April, will be able to amend or cancel their booking free of charge

It also said that should your holiday be cancelled you will receive a refund in 14 days, a deadline that caused a number of travel business trouble in recent months. 

BAH said it had asked its hotel partners to agree to minimum standards in terms of keeping guests safe from coronavirus. 

British Airways has run a skeleton schedule throughout the pandemic, but is believed to be planning to ramp up its services in July.

11:01 AM

‘I’m the only British tourist in Tenerife’

Paul Richardson could be the luckiest Briton in Europe.

He writes:

On a slow morning in early June, as Spain languished under Europe’s strictest lockdown, I had a call from the manager of a small group of exquisite lodgings on the north coast of Tenerife.

For the first time in living memory, Alberto del Hoyo told me over the phone, Tenerife’s colonial towns and mountain landscapes were devoid of tourists, its beauty spots quieter and lovelier than ever. The island’s tourist industry had collapsed a month earlier and none of its 426 hotels was open, but del Hoyo’s own 17th-century Hacienda de las Cuatro Ventanas had discreetly begun welcoming local clients. 

My curiosity piqued, I hatched a plan. 

Read the full story. 

10:45 AM

Centre Parcs announces reopening dates

Centre Parcs will reopen across the UK on July 13 for the first time since March

The five resorts will open with new measures in place, including changes to some activities to maintain social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and changes to arrival and departure times. Pools and spas will not be open until at least July 28, the company said.

Only cashless payments will be accepted across the villages and all activities must be booked online. A new takeaway service will be in place for lodges. 

Center Parcs’ CEO, Martin Dalby, said: “We’ve had our teams working around the clock to review everything we do, right down to the smallest detail, and we‘re now ready to open our doors again.

“Those families who have visited us before will notice some changes to the way we’re doing things, but the essence of a Center Parcs break will remain the same, offering a fantastic short break experience with plenty of space within our 400 acres of natural woodland.”

10:18 AM

Greece set for UK return on July 1

Greece wants British holidaymakers to return on July 1, the country’s tourism minister has said. 

Haris Theoharis said that a decision between the UK and Greece will “be in place in the next few days” and that there should be no need for visitors returning to Britain from Greece to quarantine. 

Greece is one of the countries included in the initial tranche of air bridge deals reported by the Telegraph today. 

Theoharis told Radio 4: “The point is that Greece is a safe country – we have proven that during this crisis and we will continue proving this in the exit stages of the health situation. We feel that the risk of someone contracting the disease in Greece is much lower than most of the countries in Europe and indeed the rest of the world.”

10:02 AM

FAQs: Everything you need to know about UK holidays this summer

Bookings for UK holidays have soared since Boris Johnson announced an easing of the lockdown from July 4. 

Here is everything you need to know about your ‘staycation’ this summer – and what is left to find out.

St Ives is set to be popular this summer - Istock
St Ives is set to be popular this summer – Istock

09:43 AM

Qantas cuts jobs and retires 747s

Australian airline Qantas is to cut at least 6,000 jobs and keep 15,000 more workers on furlough as it struggles to survive the coronavirus pandemic. 

The carrier said it also plans to ground 100 planes for more than a year and will retire its last six Boeing 747 aircraft. 

Qantas is a popular choice for Britons travelling to Australia, especially since the launch of the first non-stop, direct route between London and Perth in 2018.

AP reports:

Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the airline has to become smaller as it braces for several years of much lower revenues. He said the furloughed workers faced a long interruption to their airline careers.

“The actions that we’re taking will have a huge impact on thousands of our people. This is something that weighs very heavily on all of us,” Joyce told reporters. “This is something that we don’t make a decision on very easily. But the collapse of billions of dollars in revenue leaves us with little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible longer term.”

Joyce said the airline entered the crisis in a better position than most airlines and remained optimistic about the future.

09:30 AM

Premier Inn staff to wear PPE

Guests staying at Premier Inn this summer will be kept apart by floor markings in the communal areas of the hotel, while staff will be behind acrylic screens at check-in and wear additional PPE “where appropriate”. 

New no-touch key return boxes and automated hand sanitisers are among changes to be introduced by the hotel chain as it prepares to reopen on July 4. 

Premier Inns are, of course, not the only hotels due to open next weekend. See here for the latest news on the UK’s finest properties, and when they plan to welcome back guests. 

Premier Inn has revealed its new coronavirus measures - Premier Inn
Premier Inn has revealed its new coronavirus measures – Premier Inn

09:08 AM

EasyJet to resume international flights next week

EasyJet is to resume more domestic and international flights from July 1, the airline has announced. 

The low-cost carrier resumed operations earlier in the month, with a limited schedule, but said it would fly from 14 UK airports next week for the first time since March. By July, it will fly 50 per cent of its 1,022 routes, and 75 per cent by August. 

Some of the first international routes include services to Paris, Milan and Barcelona, as well as destinations in the Balearics and Canary Islands, and airports in Greece, Croatia and Portugal

Additional measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus will include “enhanced aircraft disinfection”, the mandatory wearing of masks by crew and customers and the removal of on-board food services. 

Robert Carey, chief commercial and strategy officer, said: “These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”  

Telegraph Travel’s Greg Dickinson was on the first flight EasyJet operated since the beginning of the pandemic. Read his review of the experience.

08:51 AM

In pictures: Eiffel Tower reopens, but you have to take the stairs

The Eiffel Tower has reopened to visitors for the first time since March.

Visitors must wear face masks, keep their distance from each other and only use the stairs. The Paris attraction’s lifts will be in operation again in July.

Visitors queue beneath the Eiffel Tower on its reopening day - AFP
Visitors queue beneath the Eiffel Tower on its reopening day – AFP
Visitors were required to take the stairs, where it is easier to socially distance - AFP
Visitors were required to take the stairs, where it is easier to socially distance – AFP
Face masks were mandatory, too - Reuters
Face masks were mandatory, too – Reuters

 Read more: Will the City of Love ever be the same again?

08:41 AM

‘It’s not that we wanted you to stay away forever’

Away from the news of imminent overseas travel, the UK’s holiday hotspots are braced for an influx of visitors in July and August after the Government announced the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

Hazel Plush reports

After months of begging visitors to ‘Stay Away’, England’s local tourism boards are finally able to change their tune – and, for hospitality businesses and holiday-hungry tourists, it’s music to our ears. But when restrictions lift on 4 July, will its honeypot destinations really be welcoming tourists with open arms? And, after all their pleas to postpone our plans, will they be dropping that rather hostile message for good?

“It wasn’t that we didn’t want you to stay away forever – it’s because we cared about you, and the people of Cornwall!”, says Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall. “We were the first English tourist board to ask people to stay away, and that message was absolutely vital at the time, but now – at last – it is changing.” 

Now, the emphasis will be on planning and booking, says Bell: “There’s never been a more important time for clear messaging, and ours is emphatically that visitors are welcome after July 4 – but booking [for restaurants, attractions and accommodation] will be absolutely essential.”

Read the full story. 

08:32 AM

Top 10: UK holidaymaker favourites

These were the 10 most visited countries last year by British holidaymakers. Of the below, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Greece look to be part of the first wave of air bridge deals next week. 

  1. Spain 15.62million UK visitors

  2. France 8.56m  

  3. Italy 4.16m  

  4. USA 3.47m 

  5. Ireland 3.42m 

  6. Portugal 2.87m 

  7. Germany 2.82m 

  8. Netherlands 2.72m 

  9. Poland 2.67m

  10. Greece 2.35m 

08:20 AM

Revealed: First air bridge deals for UK holidaymakers

Good morning. The key story today is the revelation of which countries are likely to be linked with the UK via a bilateral ‘air bridge’ deal next week, allowing for the resumption of summer holidays. According to sources, the agreements will appear thus:

First tranche including:

France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany

Second tranche including:

Denmark, Norway, Finland, Holland, ‘low-risk’ Caribbean islands, La Reunion

Third tranche including

Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong

Read the full story. 

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