Up to 90 per cent of UK summer holiday options sold out

Greg Dickinson
·41 min read
Cornwall is preparing for a surge in staycationers this summer - Getty
Cornwall is preparing for a surge in staycationers this summer - Getty

Britons will find fewer than one in 10 UK self-catering holiday options available across some operators this summer as the nation prepares for a post-lockdown staycation boom.

Just 8 per cent of school summer holiday dates are still available for properties advertised by Oliver's Travels. Self-catering property agency Unique Homestays also said 92 per cent of its available dates have been booked up for the summer months.

Meanwhile, the number of August reservations taken by luxury camping specialist Canopy & Stars are up 185 per cent compared with March 2019. Around 30 per cent of its total guest capacity remains for August.

“Despite record levels of bookings, there is still a chance to book a summer staycation if you are quick and can be flexible with dates and area,” said Mike Bevens, managing director of Canopy & Stars. “Keep an eye out for new places too, we have several brand new places lined up to join our collection in the coming weeks,” he added.

British families are snapping up domestic breaks following the publication of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, under which leisure travel is set to resume in England on April 12.

International travel will not return until May 17, at the earliest, and foreign holidays are likely to come with the additional hurdles of Covid testing and potential quarantine – and, possibly, vaccine passports.

Scroll down for the latest updates.

05:33 PM

Today's top stories

That's it for today. Here's a reminder of the main headlines:

  • Travel and hospitality sectors react to the Budget

  • EU-wide 'vaccine passports' at risk

  • Promising signs for our staycation prospects

  • P&O pledges "a proper summer holiday at sea"

  • Summer holiday cottage bookings up 460pc on 2019

  • Japan could ban spectators from Tokyo Olympics

  • Guernsey bans cruise ship until 2022

Join us again tomorrow morning for more of the latest travel news.

05:27 PM

Trade body highlights plight of self-catering accommodation sector

The UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA), the trade association for short-term rental companies in the UK, has said it is concerned that some businesses will again miss out on vital funding following the Budget statement this afternoon.

STAA chairman Merilee Karr said:

We welcome the new £5 billion restart scheme but cannot stress highly enough how important it is that all businesses in the hospitality industry, especially the self-catering accommodation sector, are included in this measure. Support will be needed until all restrictions are removed – this includes international travel restrictions.

We are concerned that short-term rental management companies, which often do not have a high street presence, will not be eligible for these grants, despite obviously being hospitality businesses. If the government wants the recovery to be even across all sectors, self-catering accommodation providers must be eligible for grant funding and treated on the same footing as other accommodation providers such as hotels, and not omitted on hospitality and retail business rates classifications.

Ms Karr added that STAA looks "forward to continuing our engagement with the Government on these issues to make sure that our sector is able to build back better and stronger from the challenges of this pandemic.”

05:15 PM

'Apartheid was always behind the scenes'

Interior designer Kelly Hoppen reflects on the life-changing year she fled the UK for South Africa aged 16 to live with a band.

One Christmas, in the mid-seventies, I was there and a friend said to me, “Do you want to come to listen to some amazing music – but we can’t tell anyone?” We went to see this jazz-funk band, The Pacific Express, at the Sherwood Lounge in Athlone, a predominantly black township in Cape Town where it was essentially illegal to visit if you were white. It was the most amazing night. It didn’t matter what colour you were, everyone had the best time. We went back a few times and became friends with the band.

Not long after, in 1975, my father suddenly died aged 48, when I was just 16. I’d fallen out with my mum, as teenagers do, and had spent the previous year living with him, so it was devastating. I was confused and in shock, and decided to run away back to South Africa, to be with this band. I had some money in an Abbey National account, and I bought a one-way ticket, aged just 16.

I spent a year with them, living off chip butties, and it’s no exaggeration to say the experience changed my life. The band had an incredible “live for the moment” attitude. They were mainly black or from a mixed ethnic background and then there was me, this white woman, hanging out with them, singing and playing the tambourine. They were like the Beatles in South Africa, with a huge following - and I have amazing memories of driving across the country with them, through places like the Karoo, playing in big cities and townships alike. They adored me and I adored them, and they called me KTAT, like a drum beat. I numbed out everything else.

Read Kelly's full story here.

Kelly Hoppen - CLARA MOLDEN
Kelly Hoppen - CLARA MOLDEN

05:06 PM

Lockdown exit strategy boost continues for tour operators

Tour operators continue to see bookings boom, following the Government’s roadmap announcement, which has left travellers optimistic for the future of holidays.

Following the announcement last Monday, Scott Dunn reported its largest day of enquiries since February 2020 on Tuesday, February 23, while bookings are up 180% since the start of March, compared to last month.

Europe tops the charts of destinations, accounting for 70% of all bookings last week – almost half of these are for Greece alone. While families dominate the bookings for the summer months, there has been a notable spike in ski holiday enquiries too, with France resorts such as Courchevel and Val d’Isère being the destination of choice for almost two thirds of next winter's ski enquiries.

04:59 PM

Guernsey bans cruise ship until 2022

Cruise ships will not be welcome to stop off on the island of Guernsey until the end of 2021, with the continued threat of coronavirus being given as the reason.

The tourism authority said that their priority was to “protect the health and safety” of residents and visitors.

Wendy Pedder, marketing manager at VisitGuernsey, said:

The cruise sector is very important to the Islands of Guernsey and to our tourism industry, and this is not a decision taken lightly. But following consultation with Public Health, and due to the extensive operational and logistical requirements and plans necessary to ensure a safe experience for passengers, crew and residents we have taken the proactive decision to cancel the programme for this year and to focus our efforts on the 2022 cruise programme.

With the Channel Islands a regular stop on round-Britain cruises, this is likely to be a blow to those planing to sail closes to home as cruise holidays ease back into operation.

04:50 PM

Hotel industry 'would welcome support'

More reaction to today’s Budget. Giles Fuchs owns Burgh Island Hotel in south Devon.

He said:

Grants of up to £18,000 for struggling hospitality businesses are an extremely welcome feature of this Budget, given how much pressure the sector has been under since the beginning of the first lockdown almost a year ago.

Combined with the extension of the business rates holiday and VAT cut, the introduction of this Restart Grant in April will support the hospitality and tourism sector to get up and running again at long last. Hospitality businesses will also welcome the opportunity to benefit from the extension of the furlough scheme until September. And, employing three million people and generating £130bn of economic activity, the sector’s recovery can only be good news for the UK economy as a whole.

Alongside this, however, the sector would welcome support which repairs the emotional toll the pandemic has taken on its workers. Many have suffered from loneliness and a loss of purpose as well as the financial setbacks of successive lockdowns, so if we are indeed to build back better, we should ensure that the full breath of Covid-19’s impact is addressed going forward.

Burgh Island Hotel, Devon
Burgh Island Hotel, Devon

04:38 PM

'A long road ahead' for travel sector

Speaking after the Budget was announced today, Gary Lewis, the chief executive of The Travel Network Group, said:

We welcome the announcement of measures of support that bring financial help throughout this year and into next.

The extension of furlough until the end of September will create much-needed breathing space for many of those employed by the sector. The continued self-employment support extended and access to new restart grants will combine as a lifeline for many businesses striving every day to survive until travel can reopen.

The 100 per cent business rate holiday until the end of June and then a further nine-month tapered benefit will also help many manage the challenges of increased debt whilst trading our way into 2022.

Despite seeing green shoots of recovery, there is still a long road ahead for the industry and it now is essential the Global Travel Task Force and then Government agree the protocols to open up the boarders safely to enable a full recovery not only for our travel industry but the whole economy.

04:31 PM

How did these British cruise ships end up on the scrap heap in India?

A recent investigation by the BBC’s File on 4 programme has revealed that when it comes to scrapping a cruise ship, codes of conduct and protocols lie deep in murky waters. With opportunities to enhance their value, virtually overnight, the routes the ships take on their way to the scrapyard are worthy of an episode of Only Fools and Horses.

Cruise ship Marco Polo off the coast of Falmouth last year before it made its final voyage - Getty
Cruise ship Marco Polo off the coast of Falmouth last year before it made its final voyage - Getty

Gary Buchanan investigates.

04:18 PM

"We need more people of colour in the outdoors – its healing power is undisputed"

"Many British immigrant groups become urbanised and lose their appreciation for the natural world that our white peers take for granted," says Phil Young.

Phil Young
Phil Young

Read his full comment piece here.

04:10 PM

BA launches new Maldives summer service

British Airways is launching a new Maldives summer service from London Heathrow, with flights and package holidays now available to book on ba.com, starting from £728pp.

Flights to Maldives with BA start from £728pp
Flights to Maldives with BA start from £728pp

03:54 PM

In depth: What are your chances of a summer trip to Portugal?

Middling, says Oliver Smith.

Hanging over the resumption of holidays to Portugal is the country’s presence, rightly or wrongly, of the dreaded travel red list. As things stand, 33 countries are on the list. Direct flights from these 33 destinations to the UK are banned, and UK residents returning from them are required to spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel. In any event, Portugal has banned flights from the UK over the Kent variant. Talk about tit-for-tat.

Portugal’s inclusion on the red list has put many necks out of joint. It is on there, ostensibly, because of fears about the Brazilian variant and its close ties with the South American nation. However, Portugal banned flights from Brazil weeks ago, and has only reported two cases of the variant (fewer than the six found in the UK). Until the UK is satisfied that arrivals from Portugal do not pose a major risk, or that the Brazilian variant is not a significant threat (it is widely believed that existing vaccines, while slightly less effective against the variant, do still prevent serious illness), Portugal may stay on the red list.

Portugal will remain in a state of emergency until March 16 - Getty
Portugal will remain in a state of emergency until March 16 - Getty

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said the UK’s Kent variant was actually the bigger threat to Portugal. “The only variants that are present in Portugal are British,” he said. “Almost half of new infections in Portugal belong to this British variant. That’s why we suspended the flights between Britain and Portugal.

“But we don’t have any evidence of prevalence of the Brazilian or South African variants in Portugal. I would say it is somehow useless, the decision taken by the British authorities concerning quarantine, since we decided to suspend the connections between Portugal and the UK.”

Portugal has not given any indication as to when it will remove its ban on non-essential UK arrivals. With Brits making up a large number of the annual visitors to Portugal, it seems likely that restrictions will be eased before the summer, particularly with Britain’s speedy vaccine rollout helping push cases down, but nothing is certain.

Neither the National Tourist Office of Portugal, nor the Portuguese Embassy in London, could make any predictions about when flights might resume between the two countries, but we were assured that “Portugal has been in regular contact with the British authorities at both a diplomatic and technical level in an attempt to resolve this situation.”

Find out more here.

03:34 PM

Hospitality sector reacts to the budget

Neil Pattison, Director at the UK’s biggest hospitality jobs board, Caterer.com, says:

“The gradual re-opening of Hospitality will continue to pose major challenges to employers so the extension of the furlough scheme and 5% VAT rate are a crucial lifeline for our sector. Hospitality will play a pivotal role in rebuilding the economy, creating jobs and generating income. Whilst we await re-opening it is essential that the ‘restart’ grant scheme is rolled out as quickly as possible, to get businesses through the next few months.

“There is a long road ahead, but we are seeing positive signs with more evidence every day that businesses are staring to hire in preparation for re-opening and in order to meet significant pent-up customer demand. The number of jobs posted on Caterer.com rose by 35% following the roadmap announcements on 22 February, showing how much confidence a little clarity can bring.

“To help hospitality realise its potential as a major stimulus in the UK’s economic recovery, we continue to join the sector in the call for a dedicated Hospitality Minister, to bring the ongoing focus that is needed. Brexit’s impact on the sector’s workforce will pose another challenge for recruitment in hospitality long-term, so what the industry needs is someone who really understands and can work closely with the sector to bring it back to long-term strength.”

03:28 PM

Latest Covid figures from NHS England

A further 204 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 83,733, NHS England said on Wednesday.

Patients were aged between 32 and 100. All except seven, aged between 63 and 88, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between January 2 and March 2, with the majority being on or after February 27.

A total of 18,194,919 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and March 2, according to provisional NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 208,968 on the previous day's figures.

Of this number, 17,554,700 were the first dose of a vaccine, a rise of 181,316 on the previous day, while 640,219 were a second dose.

03:12 PM

Poland's lake district sees spike in Covid cases

The sparsely-populated region, which has until now had low infection rates, has seen a sharp spike in cases. Experts believe that Poles returning home from the UK could be behind the surge.

On Wednesday, the region of 1.4 million people saw 1,132 new daily coronavirus cases. Its infection rates per 100,000 people are consistently more than double the national average, according to recent data.

Olsztyn, at the heart of the Polish lake district, pictured last summer when it had very few Covid-19 cases - Getty
Olsztyn, at the heart of the Polish lake district, pictured last summer when it had very few Covid-19 cases - Getty

“There’s an avalanche of new patients and we are running out of beds,” said ward doctor Lukasz Grabarczyk.

03:03 PM

Vaccine rollout begins in Africa, months after the UK, US and EU

With fewer resources and tougher logistics than other regions, African nations are racing to secure the hundreds of millions of doses needed to inoculate their populations against the disease and allow the safe reopening of economies.

But vaccine rollouts had barely started before this week, months after Britain, the United States and the European Union started inoculating health workers and older people, due to lengthy delivery schedules.

Nigeria also received 4 million doses and Angola 624,000 on Tuesday. Senegal and the Gambia received thousands of doses early on Wednesday.

The first doses of the Pfizer shots to be dispatched to Africa under Covax are due to arrive in Rwanda late on Wednesday.

02:40 PM

Wondering what was announced in the Budget?

Here is a roundup of all the big changes and announcements.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announcing today's Budget
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announcing today's Budget

02:31 PM

Japan could ban spectators from Tokyo Olympics

Japan's government is planning to stop overseas spectators coming to the Summer Olympics due to worries they will spread the coronavirus, a report said on Wednesday, as many Japanese remain opposed to holding the Games during the pandemic.

The final decision would be made this month after talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other parties, the Mainichi newspaper reported, citing multiple unnamed sources.

A decision on whether spectators will be able to attend the Olympics will be made later this month
A decision on whether spectators will be able to attend the Olympics will be made later this month

The government would continue to consider whether to accept spectators from within Japan, including the number allowed into venues, the Mainichi added.

Read the full report here.

02:21 PM

Looking for a UK escape, with some wild swimming?

Wild swimming is a passion for many, and the UK has a plethora of holiday lets where you can swim in tinglingly fresh water just a few metres from your front door.

Coniston Water – one of our picks for a wild swim
Coniston Water – one of our picks for a wild swim

Here, we have selected 10 of Britain's best self-catering stays for wild swimming

02:15 PM

Could a vaccine make my holiday possible?

The idea of 'vaccine passports' has been embraced by some countries, like the Seychelles, Hungary, Romania and Cyprus, keen to welcome back holidaymakers as soon as possible. Israel and Greece have agreed to open a two-way travel corridor for vaccinated tourists in a bid to regenerate their struggling economies.

Greece has forged a 'vaccine passport' travel agreement with Israel - Getty
Greece has forged a 'vaccine passport' travel agreement with Israel - Getty

It is possible that anyone travelling overseas in 2021 will need to have vaccination certification to do so. Here is a look at the countries already rolling out vaccine certificates.

02:01 PM

Which of our 10 favourite summer holiday destinations could reopen by June?

With vaccine passports on the horizon, holiday bookings soaring, and the end of lockdown (hopefully) nigh, the possibility of a summer getaway is increasing every day.

But which of Britons’ most popular summertime haunts might be ready to accept visitors – and which are lagging behind? Here, Hazel Plush and Oliver Smith look into the stats and stances of 10 summer hotspots, to help you decide where to book.

01:56 PM

£2 increase in air passenger tax

Rory Boland of Which? Travel has criticised the timing of the Government's increase of passenger tax on long-haul flights.

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01:51 PM

Global bucked positive trend as new cases rose by 7 per cent last week

New coronavirus infections rose by seven per cent last week, bucking an unprecedented six week decline in new cases, according to the World Health Organization.

According to the UN agency's latest epidemiological report, 2.6 million new Covid-19 cases were reported last week, a seven per cent increase.

Of the six WHO regions, four reported a rise in new infections: by 14 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean; nine per cent in Southeast Asia and Europe, and six per cent in the Americas.

Yesterday Brazil registered its highest daily death count – 1,726 - Shutterstock
Yesterday Brazil registered its highest daily death count – 1,726 - Shutterstock

"Possible reasons for this increase include the continued spread of more transmissible variants of concern, relaxation of public health and social measures and fatigue around adhering to [these] measures," the report said.

The number of new fatalities, though, has continued to decline. Just over 63,000 deaths were reported last week - a fall of six per cent. There was a large spike in new fatalities in Southeast Asia, by 47 per cent, but the WHO said this is largely due to retrospective reporting in Nepal.

Globally, the United States, Brazil and France remain the countries reporting the most new cases. They are joined this week in the 'top five' by Italy and India.

Read more on this from Sarah Newey here, including a warning from the WHO that the pandemic will not end this year.

01:28 PM

Budget fails to mention 'beleaguered travel industry'

Responding to the Budget this afternoon, Kerry Golds, managing director of of travel companies Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings, said:

Despite vaccine progress, the pandemic continues to challenge businesses, so an extension to the furlough scheme is a welcome step in ensuring the travel industry's survival.

Yet, given [Chancellor Rishi] Sunak introduced industry-specific support for the arts, retail and hospitality, there was still no mention of the beleaguered travel industry. Arguably, international travel will take the most time to recover to levels of £200 billion it contributes annually to the UK economy, and the employment of four million people

01:25 PM

Eyes on the Budget

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel, is is yet to be impressed with how the Budget will help international travel.

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01:17 PM

'I'll be taking my son out of school for a term-time holiday – and fines won't stop me'

As the daughter of a headmistress Laura Fowler was brought up to believe Teacher is Always Right – but not this time.

We've been home-schooling for months, now, in total, with varying degrees of success. What harm would it have done to skip a week of maths by baking and BBC bitesize geography and the handwriting exercises that invariably ended in tears (mine and his) and a consolation trip to the park?

And yes, once they’re back in school (in five days’ time, not that anyone’s counting), they may have some catching up to do, and those days are precious. But now that I’ve witnessed first-hand how good their education is, how these kids are thriving, how by six they know how to use fronted adverbials and co-ordinating conjunctions (I know!) – years from now, will five days out of school have left a lasting dent in their education?

After everything they’ve been through, after so many hours, weeks, months, of screentime, after spending a good proportion of their young lives in lockdown, cooped up day after same old day with their parents – haven’t these children earned a holiday? And us too, while we’re at it?

BEACH SUNSET - PETER CADE/GETTY
BEACH SUNSET - PETER CADE/GETTY

Read the full piece here.

01:07 PM

Bookings jump for campsites and holiday parks

Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com says that current bookings for August reflect a 43 per cent increase against figures for 2020, and 67 per cent against 2019.

Yates said:

We still have good availability across England with an average of 75 per cent availability across the key six-week summer holiday period. And more sites are joining all the time – with 267 added since the beginning of the year, so there’s plenty of choice for all.

01:01 PM

The 30 best river cruises for 2021 and beyond

Craving an escape? Sara Macefield has found the 30 of the most spectacular voyages on the world's waterways that are just the tonic for lockdown boredom.

They range from the Danube’s 'capital attractions' to Dutch bulbfields, from Egyptian wonders to America’s Northwest.

Spend your holiday floating along the Yangtze - GETTY
Spend your holiday floating along the Yangtze - GETTY

Find your dream river cruise here.

12:55 PM

The Global Travel Taskforce meets

Here's an inside look into a virtual meeting of the Global Travel Taskforce, who will be sharing their recommendations on the return of international travel on April 12.

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12:48 PM

Ministers discuss return of international travel

Aviation minister Robert Courts has told MPs that international restart from May 17 in line with the government's roadmap.

Speaking at a meeting of Transport Selection Committee, he said: "We have laid out how we are going to make progress over the course of the next month, with the report to the prime minister on 12 April, and then looking towards travel at some point after 17 May."

He was pushed for clarification from MP Ben Bradshaw, who replied: "Can you be a bit more specific? Most people are hoping that these stage-posts are not going to be put back by a long time. Are you talking about days, weeks? The industry needs to plan and consumers need to plan."

Mr Courts said that while he does "totally understand" the need for certainty "it would be premature for me to be too precise at this stage".

12:37 PM

Big drop in Portuguese hotel business

Hotels in Portugal saw their total revenues fall by 73 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019, the Portuguese Hotel Association has said, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused chaos for tourism.

Nearly half of all hotels were closed in December last year, according to their survey. The highest number of openings over the year was in September, when 79 per cent of hotels were open.

Cristina Siza Vieira, chief executive of the hotel body, said: “The impact of these closures... is brutal on total revenues for the hotel industry.”

12:21 PM

Lost Gardens of Heligan reopen

The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall reopens again today, exclusively to Members and Local Pass holders.

Lost Gardens of Heligan
Lost Gardens of Heligan

The third lockdown saw Heligan (near Mevagissey in Cornwall) close its gates as Covid case rates in the county rose dramatically. Now, as the country looks towards a reopening over the next few months, Heligan will once again welcome local visitors.

“We are delighted to once again welcome our local audience to the Gardens as the beauty of Spring begins to unfold” commented Alasdair Moore, Head of Gardens and Estate, “It’s such an important season full of hope and new life, as bulbs burst from the ground, and blooms unfurl on Heligan’s historic collection of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. We all need some hope right now and nature is ready to provide that for us.”

12:13 PM

A Greek island holiday in October is top pick

Travel deals app HolidayPirates has released data on booking patterns over the past eight days, since the roadmap was unveiled, and found that the top selling destinations were

  • Greek Islands (21%)

  • Balearic Islands (13%)

  • Egypt (10%)

The top holiday periods are

  • Oct 21 ( 27%)

  • Sep 21 (21%)

  • Jul 21 (13%)

  • Aug 21 (12%)

In total Jul–Oct 21 hold 72% of all bookings.

Phil Salcedo, Head of Market UK and North America for HolidayPirates said: “Brits take sensible approach to summer holidays. Since last week's roadmap announcement by the UK government, HolidayPirates has seen an explosion of interest in summer-holiday bookings - up 400% week-on-week, as British travellers desperate for a break gained confidence to make plans.

“However, the booking patterns suggest a careful approach from would-be holidaymakers, with 49% of trips booked in September and October. The figures were much lower for July (13%) and August (12%). It proves something we had increasingly suspected in recent months. Many of us are absolutely determined to get away on holiday this summer, but we're also more confident that late-summer bookings are a smarter choice right now. We believe the report by the new Global Travel Taskforce on 12 April could make another significant difference in terms of shorter booking windows, and many Brits will make a decision about peak summer holidays when they get more clarity in April.”

12:07 PM

Today is World Wildlife Day!

Are you a lover of all things wild? From attending a Festival of British Wildlife in Scotland in May to a family seal snorkelling adventure in the Farne Islands, here are ten ideas to whet your appetite this spring and summer.

Head to Yorkshire's Bempton Cliffs to see puffins - Getty
Head to Yorkshire's Bempton Cliffs to see puffins - Getty

11:59 AM

What are your chances of a France holiday this summer?

Chances of a summer holiday: Good

As things stand, only Britons who reside in the EU, or those with a pressing need to visit (that doesn’t include a holiday) may enter France. A Covid test, carried out in the previous 72 hours, is also required, while Britons must then self-isolate for seven days before taking another PCR test. All in all, it’s not exactly conducive to holidays, writes Oliver Smith.

A Paris city break could be on the cards, this summer - Getty
A Paris city break could be on the cards, this summer - Getty

France has not given any indication as to when it will remove its ban on non-essential UK arrivals, but it would be quite a shock if our close neighbour, which derives significant economic benefit from free-spending UK visitors, did not ease restrictions in the coming months – particularly as our cases are plummeting and our vaccine rollout is so advanced.

While the EU has signalled its support for vaccine passports, the French government has repeatedly sought to distance itself from the idea that only inoculated people will be able to travel. This would suggest that, even if the EU adopts a bloc-wide passport scheme, France will still welcome unvaccinated travellers who present evidence of a negative test.

Read more here.

11:44 AM

EU-wide 'vaccine passports' at risk

European Union coronavirus passports could be put at risk if member states continue to break away from the bloc’s vaccines strategy by buying Russian and Chinese vaccines, officials have warned.

Brussels is set to propose legislation to create an EU-wide Digital Green Pass on March 17. The vaccine certificate will be the first step towards an eventual passport that could help save Europe’s summer season and would be open to tourists from the UK and other non-EU countries.

But those hopes could be dashed because more and more countries are buying jabs outside of the EU joint procurement scheme and authorising vaccines at national level that have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Read the full story from James Crisp and Nick Squires, here.

11:33 AM

Thatched cottages and country houses: summer availability with Unique Homestays

Unique Homestays is among the UK accommodation providers reporting a surge in bookings this summer. A spokesperson for the company said:

[We have] seen demand for summer getaways more than double as a result of the pandemic. Prior to Covid-19 restrictions, in March 2019 the company had confirmed 30 per cent of their total availability for the summer season ahead. Fast forward to March 2021, however, and Unique Homestays only have 8 per cent occupancy remaining for the summer months, with 92 per cent of all available dates now booked. Following the latest government announcement on domestic holidays resuming as early as April 12, the nation’s fight to secure the last few remaining dates is now on.

There are still some properties with availability in July and August. Here are some of the best:

The Riddle North Bovey, Dartmoor, Devon

Escape to an idyllic north Devon village, set within Dartmoor National Park. A thatched roof, twinkling chandeliers and a pillar box red Aga gives this cottage a storybook-feel. Underfloor heating in the bathroom and kitchen will ensure you stay toasty during our variable British summer. Sleeps four, from £1,495 per week, £1,095 per short break. See link here.

The Riddle North Bovey, Dartmoor, Devon   
The Riddle North Bovey, Dartmoor, Devon

Rhapsody Haslemere, Surrey

Head to this property to find surreal garden sculptures and topsy-turvy architecture in the Surrey countryside. It has an outdoor heated swimming pool, yoga hut and sunken hot tub. Sleeps 12 (10 adults and two children), from £18,750 per week. See link here.

Romany Romney Marsh, Brookland, Kent

An ideal couples retreat, this bright, secluded cabin comes with a hot tub and fire pit. Animal lovers will enjoy the pair of Tonkinese cats who live nearby and often drop by the garden. You can even bring a (well-behaved) dog along for a stay. A roll-top bath and welcome hamper are among the indulgent touches. Sleeps two, from £1,095 per week, £850 per short break. See link here.

11:15 AM

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak must address 'most egregious' air travel tax, says Ryanair boss

Rishi Sunak has "done nothing" on Air Passenger Duty [APD], "the most egregious tax on air travel", Ryanair's chief executive has claimed.

Michael O'Leary called for the Chancellor to roll out more support for the industry in today's Budget, as he appeared before the transport select committee.

He said: "Where I will be most critical of the UK Government is the one lever they have at their disposal - and that is this ridiculous APD tax of £22 per departing passenger - no effort has been made by the Government to roll that back, reduce it temporarily, or in fact what we would call for, abandon it altogether, at least until traffic at UK airports recovers to pre-pandemic levels."

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has spoken out ahead of the Budget
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has spoken out ahead of the Budget

He added: "Rishi Sunak has done nothing about APD, which is the most egregious tax on air travel, because it is regressive and it hits the poorest people hardest. So there's much more to be done on Government support.

"The furlough scheme falls short of what needs to be done and it will be a very challenging and difficult return to normal operation or pre-Covid operation levels and profitability."

11:08 AM

UK tourism sector hopes for support in the Budget

Merilee Karr, Chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, said:

“The Chancellor needs to make sure that his new £5bn restart grant scheme is open to all businesses in the hospitality industry, specifically the self-catering accommodation sector. This means they must be eligible for grant funding and treated on the same footing as other accommodation providers such as hotels, and not omitted based on hospitality and retail business rates classifications.”

11:04 AM

Which is the perfect Greek island?

You might not want to book just yet, but hopes are high that Greece could be one of our overseas holiday options this summer. Why? Because it has been vocal in its support for restarting tourism, a vital component of its economy, by letting vaccinated arrivals skip quarantine, and other sunseekers visit if they have tested negative.

Best for beaches? Zakynthos is our pick - Getty
Best for beaches? Zakynthos is our pick - Getty

A Greek island holiday sounds like just the tonic after the bleakest of winters. Who could possibly turn down a week or two of reliable sunshine, and simple but delicious food served in rustic seaside tavernas? To help you start planning your perfect escape, here are 15 of our favourite options.

Read the full feature, here.

11:00 AM

The last holidays on the shelf: Landmark Trust

The Landmark Trust has 198 historic properties on its books. An August 2 arrival date, however, returns just seven results, or 3.5% of its portfolio – and only three of them are in the UK (the other four are in Italy). Act fast, says Oliver Smith.

The Warren House in Kimbolton
The Warren House in Kimbolton

The options are: Lynch Lodge, near Peterborough, a two-storey Jacobean porch salvaged from a great house once beloved of the poet and playwright John Dryden (sleeps two; four nights for £700); The Warren House in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, a 17th-century former home to the warrener of a country estate (sleeps two; four nights for £763); Collegehill House, a stone’s throw from Rosslyn Chapel, of Da Vinci Code fame, whose former guests include Queen Victoria and William Wordsworth (sleeps six; four nights for £1,008).

10:46 AM

May holiday bookings up 613pc compared with 2019, says Awaze UK

May is proving the most popular month so far for Awaze UK, which includes holiday brands such as Hoseasons and cottages.com. Reservations for UK breaks in May – keeping in mind that there are bank holidays on May 3 and May 31 – are up 613 per cent compared with 2019.

The school summer holidays are also proving popular: cottages.com has seen summer bookings up 71 per cent for over the six-week break, compared with 2019 Lodge specialist Hoseasons has seen bookings up 26 per cent for peak summer weeks, compared with 2019.

Devon bookings are booming - Getty
Devon bookings are booming - Getty

A spokesperson for Awaze said:

"Awaze bookings for Cornwall and Devon combined are significantly up every month this year from April onwards compared to the corresponding month in 2019. May is proving particularly popular at the moment, with bookings up a huge 613 per cent on where they were this time two years ago as holidaymakers look to get away as early as possible and enjoy a much-needed staycation."

10:39 AM

We have built a secret staycation algorithm

Combine maths and machine learning to bag the truly secret hotel on the totally hidden beach in the yet to be discovered corner of the UK.

(Keep it schtum.)

10:29 AM

Which countries are on the UK's 'red list' for travel?

Here's a look at the 33 countries on the UK's 'red list'. Arrivals from these countries will need to enter a quarantine hotel for 10 days.

The 33 hotel quarantine 'red list' countries
The 33 hotel quarantine 'red list' countries

Here's everything you need to know about quarantine hotels.

10:14 AM

P&O pledges "a proper summer holiday at sea"

P&O Cruises have unveiled a plan to give people "a proper summer holiday at sea" with a series of short cruises around the UK this summer, reports Benjamin Parker.

The line is yet to announce dates of the sailings or the itineraries but the decision means that previously planned cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura have been cancelled until the end of August, as well as voyages and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: "Following recent Government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end. Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.

This could be you... - Getty
This could be you... - Getty

"Whilst holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.

"These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine. More details of dates, prices and the experience on board will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence."

However, the cruises are subject to official travel advice changing over the coming months. Even before the current lockdown the Foreign Office advised British nationals against travel on sea-going cruise ships. Mr Ludlow said that P&O Cruises remains "in very close contact with the UK Government and associated bodies".

10:06 AM

Pontins used blacklist of Irish surnames to bar Gypsy and Traveller families from holiday parks

Pontins has admitted operating a blacklist of Irish surnames to exclude Gypsy and Traveller families from its holiday parks.

Families with surnames such as Boyle, Connors, Delaney, Dogherty, Murphy and O’Reilly were told by staff there were no slots available if they tried to book.

The list was headed with a cartoon of the wizard Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and the words 'You Shall Not Pass' 
The list was headed with a cartoon of the wizard Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and the words 'You Shall Not Pass'

The blacklist of mainly Irish surnames, drawn up under the heading “Undesirable Guests”, was placed on the company’s intranet and distributed to staff with the instructions “we do not want these guests in our parks”.

Read the full report here.

09:54 AM

In case you missed it...

Here's footage of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung erupting on Tuesday morning, spewing a massive column of smoke and ash up to 5,000 metres into the sky.

09:51 AM

Japan to extend state of emergency for Tokyo region

Japan's government plans to extend a state of emergency over the coronavirus for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures by two weeks, until March 21, broadcaster TBS reported on Wednesday.

While new coronavirus cases have fallen significantly from a peak in early January, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday the pace of decline had slowed, expressing concern that it may not be enough to lift restrictions.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says the pace of declining cases in Tokyo has slowed
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says the pace of declining cases in Tokyo has slowed

09:31 AM

Where will be on the 'green list' this summer?

Let us work with one possible scenario.

It is June 21. The UK’s vaccination drive has been a roaring success, Covid cases, deaths and hospitalisations are right down across the UK, new variants have failed to drive them up, and everyday life resembles some kind of normality. We have kept to the roadmap, as planned. Other countries are in similar positions, meaning we can start to open up our borders and build a ‘green list’ of countries we can visit on a travel corridor basis.

Greece has suggested it could open its doors without restrictions to UK arrivals who have received vaccinations
Greece has suggested it could open its doors without restrictions to UK arrivals who have received vaccinations

Where will we be able to go?

Here are seven candidates for the travel corridor 'green list' this summer.

09:23 AM

The man who has explored Planet Earth's extremes

A British explorer has become the first person to visit Earth’s four furthest extremes after a successful dive to the deepest point in the oceans.

Cambridge-born Richard Garriott has now completed the incredible triumvirate of flying in space, hiking to both North and South Poles and reaching the bottom of the world in a titanium submersible.

Richard Garriott, a dual British-American national, made sure to wear the same suit that he wore into space, which features both the Union Jack and the American Stars and Stripes.   
Richard Garriott, a dual British-American national, made sure to wear the same suit that he wore into space, which features both the Union Jack and the American Stars and Stripes.

The 59-year-old emerged on Monday after his descent nearly seven miles below the Pacific Ocean’s surface to its deepest point, known as Challenger Deep.

To put its depth into perspective, Mount Everest's peak is just 5.5 miles. The Mariana Trench, around the US territory of Guam in the western Pacific, is so deep that Mr Garriott is only the third to reach its deepest point.

Read the full report here.

09:15 AM

Summer holiday cottage bookings up 460pc on 2019

Britons desperate for break are snapping up UK holiday cottages this summer. Among the companies seeing a spike in demand are the Rest Easy group, which includes the brands Snaptrip, Big Cottages and Dog Friendly Cottages.

Its bookings for July and August trips up are 460 per cent when compared with the number of reservations taken for those months by this point in 2019. Popular areas among its customers include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

09:11 AM

A first look inside the new supersonic jet

Will we be flying from London to New York in an hour and a half? Supersonic jets developers certainly hope so

What it will look like inside the cabin of the Spike S-512 supersonic jet 
What it will look like inside the cabin of the Spike S-512 supersonic jet

Here, we take a first glimpse of the Spike S-512 supersonic jet.

09:03 AM

Promising signs for our staycation prospects

The fall in Covid deaths in England is running around three weeks ahead of modelling estimates, figures show, as experts called for lockdown to be eased more quickly.

Boris Johnson has promised that the Government will lift restrictions based on "data not dates", and figures now show that Britain's second virus wave is declining far faster than expected.

Lucknam Park sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland
Lucknam Park sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland

Tempted to book something for a couples' or family getaway after April 12? Here are some of the best country house hotels, for a spring getaway.

08:51 AM

Is Cornwall overrated?

Have your say.

Is Cornwall overrated? Poll
Is Cornwall overrated? Poll

You can read your fellow Telegraph readers' opinions on Cornwall, here.

08:49 AM

Today is Budget Day

You can follow all the latest on our live Politics blog here, ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak presenting the Budget in the House of Commons at 12.40pm today.

08:45 AM

Will I be able to go on holiday this summer if I haven't been vaccinated?

It's a question we get asked a lot, at Telegraph Travel HQ. It's good news... and bad news.

The good news is that, while vaccine passports could be accepted as a means to introduce restriction-free travel, this does not necessarily mean that those who have not received two doses of the vaccine will not be able to travel. The expectation is that countries will continue to accept negative Covid test results, in lieu of a vaccination certificate.

The bad news is that, if you do not have a vaccine certificate, you could well be looking at a number of tests (before travel, on arrival, before travel home, after arrival home) – likely at your own expense, and possibly with some form of quarantine depending on the rules of your destination.

Read our full advice piece on this matter here.

08:37 AM

US states begin easing restrictions

Texas on Tuesday became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a rapidly growing movement by governors and other leaders across the US to loosen restrictions despite pleas from health officials not to let their guard down yet.

The Lone Star State will also do away with limits on the number of diners who can be served indoors, said Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock.

The governors of Michigan, Mississippi and Louisiana likewise eased up on bars, restaurants and other businesses Tuesday, as did the mayor of San Francisco.

"Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility," said Mr Abbott, speaking from a crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks. "It's just that now state mandates are no longer needed."

People wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in Dallas, Texas - AP
People wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in Dallas, Texas - AP

Read more: Texas '100pc open' after governor ends Covid lockdown and mask mandate

08:34 AM

Where are you hoping to travel this summer?

Participate in our Twitter poll to let us know which of these countries you hope to travel to this summer.

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08:30 AM

Virus deaths in Brazil hit all-time record high

Brazil registered an all-time record on Tuesday for the number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day with 1,641 people dying from the disease, according to Health Ministry data.

That surpasses the previous single-day high of 1,595 deaths recorded in late July 2020, as Brazil faces a new peak in cases and the hospital system is pushed to the brink of collapse.

Read more, here.

Healthcare workers treat Covid patients in a field hospital at the Pedro Dell'Antonia sports complex in Santo Andre, Brazil - Jonne Roriz/Bloomberg
Healthcare workers treat Covid patients in a field hospital at the Pedro Dell'Antonia sports complex in Santo Andre, Brazil - Jonne Roriz/Bloomberg

08:12 AM

What happened yesterday?

A re-cap of yesterday's top stories:

  • Spain considering 'green corridor' for British tourists

  • Thailand’s travel industry lobbies for July 1 reopening

  • More summer music festivals cancelled

  • Israel trials swapping hotel quarantine for tracking devices

  • Germany starts French border checks

  • Rome's Mausoleum of Augustus reopens to tourists

  • Isle of Man enters 21-day lockdown

Now, on with today's news.