Portugal on course to open to British tourists by May 17

·29 min read

It is looking increasingly likely that Portugal will lift its ban on non-essential travel by May 17, paving the way for British holidaymakers to visit as soon as the UK Government permits it.

A rep from the Portuguese National Tourist Office told The Telegraph on Thursday: "We understand there are many questions still, around the entry requirements from British Citizens to enter Portugal.

"As our Minister of Tourism mentioned [previously] we will be ready to receive tourists back to Portugal in May.

"We are working hard, not only internally, but also with the British Government to be able to receive the British Tourists as of the 17th of May."

The Portuguese cabinet is discussing the topic today, with an announcement expected imminently.

It has already been confirmed that Porto will host the Champions League final on May 29, with space for 6,000 British fans. There was a huge spike in bookings for Portgual following the announcement that it had made the UK's green list last week, and airlines have not been cancelling flights – all good indications.

04:25 PM

What have we learnt today?

A re-cap of today's top stories:

  • Only 11% of Britons confident of a foreign holiday this year

  • New Zealand PM sets out plans explore more travel 'bubbles'

  • easyJet increases capacity to Portugal this summer

  • BA to pilot new Covid test with results in 25 seconds

  • 16 million Britons have booked a holiday abroad

  • Last-minute cancellation chaos feared as Britons double-book their holidays

Join us tomorrow for more live updates from the world of travel.

03:51 PM

Just four days until hotels reopen...

... so every day, we are rounding up ten beautiful boltholes from the UK's most spectacular regions. All with availability for May/June.

Today, we turn our attention to the Lake District, including the rather wonderful Laura Ashley Hotel 'The Belsfield' beside Windermere.

Laura Ashley Hotel The Belsfield sits beside Lake Windermere in Bowness, so that from the lawn you can watch daytrippers piling onto the lake cruisers as you sip your afternoon tea 
Laura Ashley Hotel The Belsfield sits beside Lake Windermere in Bowness, so that from the lawn you can watch daytrippers piling onto the lake cruisers as you sip your afternoon tea

03:29 PM

Thailand cases hit record levels as prisoners added to tally

Thailand has announced a daily record in new coronavirus cases after clusters in two jails saw nearly 3,000 inmates infected.

Authorities have reported 32 Covid-19 deaths and 4,887 infections - a new daily high in cases - after 2,835 prisoners were added to the tally following the mass testing of thousands of inmates in two Bangkok jails.

A corrections department official said those infected included Panupong "Mike Rayong" Jadnok, 24, who has been held since March 8 on charges including sedition and insulting the king, Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Thailand is suffering its biggest outbreak so far, with overall cases tripling to 93,794 and deaths increasing fivefold to 518 in the past six weeks, after a year of success in containment.

03:25 PM

Fears St Paul’s may have to close its doors amid worst cash crisis in 300 years

St Paul's Cathedral is facing the worst financial crisis in its 300-year history, sparking fears that a lack of tourists could force its doors to close and its choir to disband.

The London cathedral – which relies almost entirely on income from tourist ticket sales – has had its finances devastated by the pandemic. Income fell by 90% last year, with a similar decline so far this year.

The Very Rev Dr David Ison, the Dean of St Paul's, told The Telegraph: "If we can't get money and resources in the long term, then we would have to close. What else can you do [in terms of having a building that is empty]?"

Gabriella Swerling has the story.

st pauls cathedral - Getty
st pauls cathedral - Getty

03:16 PM

Why you don't have to worry about holidays selling out this summer

With just a few days to go until travel restarts on May 17, there has been a lot of excited talk about whether holidays might sell out this summer, or prices might soar, Nick Trend writes. But if you haven’t booked already, don’t let this worry you:

Of course there has been a surge in booking. Of course, some key dates in the summer are in high demand and some types of holiday, such as villa stays have sold well. But it is – and always has been – a standard ploy among tour operators and airlines to push people into booking by suggesting that holidays are selling fast and prices are rising.

The point to remember is that even though there is clearly plenty of pent up demand, it is nevertheless inevitable that far fewer people will be travelling this summer compared with a normal year. First, there are plenty who are simply too nervous to go abroad yet. Second, many of us have already committed to having our summer holidays in the UK – and few, especially in the wake of the pandemic, are likely to be able to afford the time or money to book another break abroad.

Read the rest here.

03:01 PM

Deal: Free Covid tests for under-17s to slash cost of family holidays

A UK testing clinic is offering free tests for all children under the age of 17 in a bid to cut the cost of family holidays.

DAM Health, which will have 50 clinics open by the end of May, is launching the 'Kids Go Free' package from May 17, when international travel resumes. Children must be booked in with a paying adult, and prices start from £99.

Dam Health’s director of medicine, Professor Frank Joseph, says:

We have been scaling up the company in anticipation of some key moments here in the UK [and] anticipate at least 250,000 tests by the end of June. With Kids Go Free, we are keeping the same level of service, accuracy and peace of mind with our PCR tests, making travelling abroad as affordable as possible. And we are still seeing this trend for in-clinic testing and the peace of mind this brings for all people, rather than self-testing at home or with postal kits.

02:46 PM

Demand for Portugal flights continues to rise

Confidence is rising in holidays to Portugal, according to flight comparison site Skyscanner.

Flights to Faro and Lisbon currently account for three-quarters of all bookings, a rep told us.

Reservations for economy tickets between now and September to Faro, the gateway to the Algarve, are up 678% this week compared to last, and up 528% for Lisbon.

Algarve - Marco Bottigelli
Algarve - Marco Bottigelli

02:24 PM

Last-minute cancellation chaos feared as Britons double-book their holidays

British holidaymakers have taken to double-booking in order to secure both a UK and an overseas trip, according to new data, prompting fears of mass cancellations when travel recommences.

"Many holidaymakers have booked both a foreign holiday and a UK stay and our data shows they’re often holding on to both," says Michael De Jongh, Chief Commercial Officer from hotel technology provider Avvio.

"If they decide at the last minute to risk a holiday abroad, a late rush of cancellations in the UK would create chaos across the whole industry as hotels scramble to fill their suddenly vacant rooms. Many of these just won’t be filled, resulting in tens of millions of pounds in lost revenue."

He added: "It’s not just about holidaymakers booking both a stay abroad and one in the UK. There’s also a growing trend of booking rooms at multiple UK hotels, with a view to cancelling all but one at the last minute. This causes incredible problems for hotels, in the same way as multiple restaurant bookings did during Eat Out To Help Out."

Consumer confidence in travel has never been lower, thanks in part to frequent last-minute changes to the travel corridors last year. Going forward, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the Government “would flag perhaps a couple of weeks in advance” if a country could change category under the “traffic light” system for the resumption of overseas travel.

02:00 PM

Raring to go: 16 million Britons have booked a holiday abroad

Millions of Britons are optimistic enough about international travel to have booked flights, accommodation or both abroad this year, according to new research from Capital One UK.

Nearly a third (31%) of adults, some 16 million people, have booked some form of holiday abroad for 2021 despite not knowing what will be allowed or what restrictions will be in place.

Almost 7.5 million people (14%) have booked holiday accommodation or flights overseas, before knowing where and when they will be able to travel. Meanwhile, 6.8 million (13%) have paid for a package holiday.

Those who have booked holidays have spent just over £1,500 per booking, suggesting that £18.7 billion has collectively been spent.

01:46 PM

Spain: the current situation

Things are looking increasingly positive for holidays on the Costas this summer, according to Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto's assertation yesterday that "international tourists can start planning their Spanish vacations now".

But how’s the pandemic looking in Spain?

Here’s a look at the current case numbers:

And here’s a detailed look at how the vaccination drive is going:

01:28 PM

Can I visit Israel? Latest advice as flights are cancelled

BA has joined the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Iberia and a host of US airlines in cancelling flights to Israel amid rising tensions over the conflict.

Israel happens to be one of the very few countries on the UK's quarantine-free 'green list' when the travel ban is lifted on May 17. So what is the current guidance?

According to the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO):

The FCDO currently advises against all travel to parts of Israel due to the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, including:

01:10 PM

BA tests check-in app to help beat airport Covid clusters

Virtual queueing is to be trialled at Heathrow Airport to avoid people congregating at check-in desks or boarding gates as part of a Covid-driven revolution in flying.

British Airways is testing a system that will allow passengers to book a time to board their flight via Qmatic, a mobile phone app that will “ping” them when it is their turn.

It could mean an end to the traditional “go to gate” messages on information boards as airlines try to find ways of minimising the time passengers spend crammed into small areas.

Once on board their flights, they will be asked to remain seated, with a mask on, for as much of the flight as possible, rather than getting up to chat to friends in other seats.

BA is also trialling a saliva-based Covid test that gives results in just 25 seconds and could be a “game changer” for the way pre-flight tests are conducted.

Gordon Rayner has the story.

01:00 PM

How the Lake District cracked the perfect staycation puzzle

"I’ll admit I’m spoilt," writes Lucy Aspden.

"Having the Lake District National Park within an hour’s drive of my front door is a privilege – especially in a time when staycations are in vogue.

"This week the National Park is celebrating its 70th anniversary – its platinum milestone comes as the area prepares for the kickstart of holidays and hospitality businesses and hotels work to lift the shutters after months in lockdown.

"Over the decades the Lakes has not only cemented a place in my heart, but the heart of the nation and the wider world – over 19 million people visit annually. I’d argue it’s the diamond in Great Britain’s holiday crown.

It's hard to beat the Lake District for a summer staycation - Getty
It's hard to beat the Lake District for a summer staycation - Getty

"But why is the National Park so popular with holidaymakers and daytrippers? It's simple – the Lake District has cracked the perfect staycation puzzle.

Y"es, there’s traffic, yes there can be crowds, yes there can be hostility from locals, but all-in-all the draw of a holiday in the Lake District far outweighs these niggling inconveniences."

This is how the Lakes cracked the staycation puzzle.

12:39 PM

Five top hacks for bagging a last-minute hotel ‘superbooking’

Johnny-come-latelys, rejoice.

With international travel able to restart from Monday, May 17, those who have spread their holiday booking eggs across multiple baskets at home and away look set to be the cause of cancellations, with some of the country’s finest hotels that were previously booked up (luxury spa hotel Chewton Glen in Hampshire, for instance) now offering availability.

If you missed out on the initial frenzy, fear not: we spoke to our hotel guru, Fiona Duncan, to get her top five tips on bagging a last-minute hotel ‘superbooking’.

Here are her top tips.

12:37 PM

In focus: Portugal

A quick look at how 'green listed' Portugal's case rate is looking, and how its vaccination drive is progressing.

12:24 PM

Holiday plans hit as Hitachi train crisis lasts for weeks

Chaos on the railways sparked by cracks found on Hitachi trains will continue for weeks, potentially disrupting travel plans for thousands of passengers.

Rail bosses have agreed a recovery plan to get faulty trains inspected and back in service.

But Great Western Railway, which serves Cornwall, Devon and Wales from London, will be forced to run a reduced “core” service for several weeks while each train is tested.

A Hitachi train operated by GWR  
A Hitachi train operated by GWR

Services north on the LNER east coast mainline are also expected to be disrupted for a prolonged period, though not as badly as GWR.

Hitachi’s fleet of 800 series trains was withdrawn from service on Saturday after cracks were identified on some trains.

Read the full story from Oliver Gill here.

12:14 PM

British Airways cancels flights to Tel Aviv

British Airways has become the latest European carrier to cancel flights to Tel Aviv, amid escalating tensions in Israel.

"The safety and security of our colleagues and customers is always our top priority, and we continue to monitor the situation closely," British Airways said after cancelling its flights to and from Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Virgin Atlantic cancelled a flight to Tel Aviv on Wednesday and is reviewing whether to operate a flight on Thursday evening. Spanish carrier Iberia has also cancelled services to the Israeli capital, as has Germany's Lufthansa.

This comes as a number of US airlines, included United, Delta and American Airlines have all suspended flights from the USA to Tel Aviv.

12:02 PM

Inside the multi-million dollar bunkers favoured by the Silicon Valley set

From Kansas to Germany, Nuclear-grade apocalypse-proof survival bunkers feature medical rooms, spas, huge indoor pools and shooting ranges, writes Francesca Syz.

It's no coincidence that in places like Silicon Valley, where some of the world’s wealthiest people live, there is more talk of ‘apocalypse insurance’ than ever before. This comes in the form of luxury underground bunkers, and the options are getting more sophisticated by the day.

Perhaps the super-wealthy feel they have more to lose, or that their leadership skills will be essential to the survival of society, or that the world is growing increasingly impatient with such a small number of people having all the wealth so they are more vulnerable to attack. Whatever the reason, the super-rich are going to evermore extreme lengths to protect themselves, and they're prepared to spend a lot of money doing it.

Luxury Survival Condos facility in Kansas
Luxury Survival Condos facility in Kansas

See more here.

11:50 AM

Anna Hart: I've had an early taste of freedom with the Scots – and it was sweet

Britain’s cities return to life from next week – and what they offer is exactly what our locked-down souls crave, says Anna Hart:

I suspect it simply isn’t possible to spend a weekend in Edinburgh without it becoming a top-notch city break. That’s just what happens when you put someone like me – a lockdown-wearied traveller – in one of the grandest, most convivial and most romanticised capitals in the world. In Edinburgh, a walk becomes a tour, a bite to eat becomes a cocktail-fuelled celebration and an errand becomes an adventure.

And my impromptu city break gave me hope. I have spent the past year worrying about cities, pitying them, even. As a traveller, I have always said that I find city breaks infinitely more relaxing, restorative and uplifting than a dull spa break or a week at a beach resort. But I feared that many cities would be rendered charmless and joyless during the pandemic, with galleries, museums, bars, restaurants, shops and concert halls shuttered. Living, as I do, in a small seaside town, I pitied my city-dwelling friends.

But perhaps I was wrong. Because as Britain’s cities return to life – with English museums, galleries, venues, restaurants and hotels open once again from Monday – what they offer is exactly what our locked-down souls crave.

Read the rest here.

11:35 AM

Cruise reaction: New launch is a 'huge testament to the strength of cruising in the UK'

In response to news that a new British operator, Ambassador Cruise Line, based out Essex, will set sail in April 2022, industry experts have had their say.

Adam Coulter, the managing editor of Cruise Critic UK, told Telegraph Travel:

The launch of a new UK cruise line at this moment is a huge testament to the strength of cruising in the UK – cruising may have been on pause for over a year, but that has not dampened the desire of people to get back on the ships.

Ambassador fills a gap left by the demise of Cruise & Maritime Voyages, and I’m sure it will prove to be a huge success in the affordable, no-fly, over-50s space.

Cruise writer Dave Monk added:

This is fantastic news for those who mourn the loss of CMV, known for its bargain no-fly cruises from Tilbury catering mainly to the over-50s. It's also an ideal time for the new company to benefit from the number of older ships coming on to the market.

11:24 AM

New York is offering free vaccines to tourists plus a free MetroCard

ny - Getty
ny - Getty
ny - Getty
ny - Getty
ny - Getty
ny - Getty

11:12 AM

Porto to be awarded Champions League final, but will British fans be able to travel there?

Porto will be awarded the Champions League final ahead of Wembley after thousands of Manchester City and Chelsea fans were cleared to attend, reports Ben Rumsby.

Uefa is planning to announce the all-English showdown will be staged at the Estadio do Dragao on May 29, having received assurances from the Portuguese authorities that each team would be able to bring between 4,500 and 6,000 supporters to the match.

Portugal is on the UK's green list, which means fans can travel there without needing to quarantine upon return. However, we are still waiting for the Portuguese government to list its ban on the entry of travellers for non-essential reasons.

A decision on this is expected today.

porto - Francesco Riccardo Iacomino
porto - Francesco Riccardo Iacomino

11:00 AM

Is it legal, or sensible, to go on an ‘amber list’ holiday?

That's the question our consumer expert Nick Trend is addressing today; arguing that inconsistent advice from the Government effectively increases the number of traffic lights from three to four.

He writes:

Is the Government gaslighting both travellers and holiday companies? It feels that way to me. Even as the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, spoke last Friday, confirming that international leisure travel would no longer be illegal, we were being given mixed messages. Now the confusion is getting worse.

The problem with the initial statement centred on the Government’s attitude towards the amber zone. While you may legally go to any of the amber-listed countries (including most of Europe), in reality “you should not be travelling to these places right now,” said Shapps. His words have been backed up by official DfT advice: “You should not travel to amber list countries or territories for leisure purposes.”

“You may but should not” is an incredibly unhelpful construction which is guaranteed to cause confusion and uncertainty if you have a holiday or a flight already booked to an amber-listed destination. Especially since, in many cases, those flights and holidays are still operating.

Read the rest here.

10:48 AM

Have your say: Have you double-booked this summer?

Vote in our Twitter poll below.

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10:37 AM

Interest in Glamping has increased 678% in one year

More Britons than ever are turning to tent holidays this year, but not scruffy ones.

Resort group Champneys has reported that searches for “Glamping” have risen 678% from this time last year.

There has been a steady increase in interest thus far in 2021, with a steep 45% rise since the last week of April.

See our expert guide to 10 amazing UK glamping sites for this summer, here.

10:22 AM

BA to pilot new Covid test with results in 25 seconds

British Airways has announced it will be the world's first airline to trial a coronavirus test which produces results within 25 seconds.

The pilot scheme will see flight and cabin crew taking a Pelican Covid-19 antigen test from medical tech company Canary Global.

Results will be compared against their standard test results.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said:

As we start to see the opening up of travel we remain committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again, whether it's for business, to reunite with family and friends or take a much-needed break abroad.

We think this new ultra-rapid test is a game changer so we are delighted to work with the team at Canary to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.

10:17 AM

Splurge or Save? Let us know your holiday plans

Foreign holidays are back on from May 17 (albeit only to a handful of destinations). Perhaps you've already booked an overseas break for this summer, or maybe you're holding out for a more extensive 'green list'.

Britons are planning to spend 20 per cent more on holidays this year, according to data from Club Med.

Will you be among those blowing the budget on your next trip abroad? Vote in our poll.

10:03 AM

Singapore reports most Covid-19 cases in eight months amid airport cluster

Singapore's health ministry today reported 24 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, the highest daily number since mid-September, with 17 of the fresh cases linked to a cluster at Changi Airport.

Authorities had started testing all workers at the airport a few days ago after detecting the cluster.

They have also restricted access to terminals to only passengers with tickets and essential workers for two weeks from Thursday.

Following months of reporting few new local cases, infections in Singapore have been climbing, prompting authorities to tighten social distancing rules from last week.

As of Wednesday, the number of unlinked cases in the community increased to 12 in the past week from seven in the week before, according to a health ministry statement.

09:49 AM

easyJet increases capacity to Portugal this summer

Low-cost titan easyJet is adding more flights and holiday packages to its schedule from the UK to Portugal this summer, in response to increasing demand.

Seats have been added to Gibraltar, too. The airline now offers more flights to European green list destinations than any other UK operator – 1.65 million seats in total, available from 10 UK airports including London Gatwick, Luton and Manchester.

EasyJet is also hoping to lure back customers with its 'Protection Promise', including fee-free flight changes to any date or destination up to 2 hours before departure.

09:37 AM

Virgin Atlantic to offer £55 Covid-19 tests

Virgin Atlantic is launching at-home testing bundles for customers flying to green and amber-list destinations, starting at £55pp for a PCR screening.

Kits will be delivered to travellers prior to departure, presenting results within 24 hours of receipt at the lab. A ‘Green list’ package will include everything needed for return travel (one pre-departure test and one on return) for £152, starting with flights to Israel.

A rep for Virgin Atlantic, which is partnering with Prenetics to offer the service, said: "Green and Amber packages will include every test needed for customers’ trips, based on the UK’s new traffic light travel system requirements, effective 17 May, with additional tests available tailored to the destination they are flying to, including PCR and rapid antigen, with flexibility to change the bundle if the country’s tier changes."

09:22 AM

British Rail-era InterCity 125 trains to return after mass cancellations

Rail bosses are poised to bring back InterCity 125 carriages from the 1980s to limit the fallout from mass cancellations after faulty Hitachi trains were taken out of service.

Great Western Railway is considering bringing in additional British Rail-era carriages as part of emergency measures to keep passengers moving.

Other operators are supporting GWR, which runs express services between London, Wales and the west and has been hardest hit by the crisis.

Separately, Government figures released on Wednesday revealed that the taxpayer subsidy to keep train services running across England had ballooned to more than £11bn - some £1bn more than previously disclosed.

Oliver Gill has more here.

inter-city - Getty
inter-city - Getty

09:09 AM

Sri Lanka bans travel throughout country

Sri Lanka's government has banned travel throughout the country for three days in an effort to contain rapidly increasing Covid-19 cases.

The ban is effective from Thursday night until Monday morning. It does not apply to people engaged in essential services such as health, food supply and power.

Those going to the airport for air travel or seeking medical treatment will also be allowed on the roads.

"All others are banned from leaving their houses and traveling on the roads," said Gen. Shavendra Silva, the army commander and head of the National Operation Center for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak.

Health officials are grappling with a surge in cases since last month. The country has already banned public gatherings and parties, and has closed schools and restricted public transport.

Head to our coronavirus live blog for more on the global situation.

08:55 AM

What is the situation in Portugal?

The Portuguese Government is meeting today to discuss lifting the country's ban on arrivals for non-essential travel. This would enable Britons to visit once we are free to leave the country again from May 17.

Portugal has recorded a total of 840,493 coronavirus cases and 16,998 deaths. Its low seven-day case rate of 23.45-per-100,000 citizens (compared to the UK's, which is 23.62) helped to earn it a place on our Government's 'green list'.

More than 33.5% of its population has now been offered a first dose of the vaccination, and 12.7% have had access to both.

08:43 AM

Exclusive: a new British cruise line is coming to boost industry rocked by pandemic

From May 17, cruise ships will once again be permitted to sail in UK water. But the spotlight has shifted elsewhere this week by a surprising – and exciting – development for an industry knocked by the pandemic: the launch of a new British cruise operator.

Ambassador Cruise Line, based out of Tilbury, Essex, will set sail in April 2022, offering no-fly itineraries and describing itself as offering a “premium-value, authentic and friendly cruise experience”.

But according to chairman Gordon Wilson, speaking to The Telegraph before the news was made public, the raison d'être of Ambassador is simple: “There’s a certain style and cachet to cruising – and we want to bring that back.”

“It’s not about going down water chutes or surfing at the back of the ship – which there is a market for but it’s not the one we’re seeking to service.”

Benjamin Parker has the full story.


08:26 AM

EU could ban thousands of British tourists from going to Portugal next week

Portugal has still not lifted its ban on non-essential travel from non-EU nations.

Thousands of Britons are due to visit the green-listed country from next week when international travel resumes on May 17, and could thus be turned away.

A senior Portugal official said it was an "awkward position" for the Government to be in because Lisbon holds the EU presidency, and the EU is not expected to change its advice before May 17.

"If they don’t resolve it the alternative will be thousands of British visitors being turned away at the airport, which is not a good scenario," the source told The Times.

The Portuguese cabinet is scheduled to discuss the topic today.

08:11 AM

New Zealand PM sets out plans explore more travel 'bubbles'

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday her government will explore more travel "bubbles" and lead trade delegations later this year to re-connect with a post-pandemic world after more than a year of border closures.

With majority of its essential workers now being vaccinated and inoculation for the wider population starting in July, the government is preparing a plan for how it would reopen.

Ms Ardern said New Zealand started rebuilding contact by opening quarantine-free travel with neighbouring Australia and the South Pacific's Cook Islands, and is considering more such travel bubble options.

The PM said she will lead a trade and promotional delegation to Australia in early July, and will also look to lead delegations into Europe, the United States, China and the wider Asia-Pacific.

cook islands - Getty
cook islands - Getty

08:00 AM

Only 11% of Britons confident of a foreign holiday this year

Just 11% of Britons are confident that they will have a 'normal summer holiday abroad' this year, according to Government polling.

Almost three-quarters of the 4,257 people questioned said they thought this was 'unlikely', while 15% remain unsure.

Despite the unveiling of the green list last week, the majority of those polled still have not booked a summer holiday this year (71%).

One in five have booked a holiday in the UK (20%) while just one in 20 have booked a holiday abroad (5%).

07:49 AM

UK watchdog warns holiday companies over refunds as travel restarts

Britain's competition watchdog told package holiday companies on Thursday they must be ready to refund consumers if foreign trips this summer are cancelled by the pandemic.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had taken steps to remind package travel operators of their legal obligations over refunds, seeking to avoid what happened last summer when scrapped trips resulted in 23,000 complaints.

TUI UK, one of Britain's biggest package operators, has already improved the information it provides to customers and made it easier for them to get their money back after a slap on the wrist from the CMA.

People can travel abroad again from May 17 but there are only a limited number of places where they can go without needing to quarantine on their return home.

07:38 AM

'No evidence' of staycation boom for Scotland's crisis-hit tourism industry

Scotland's crisis-hit tourism industry is facing a prolonged downturn with an "extremely slow" start to accommodation bookings following lockdown and no evidence of a summer 'staycation' boom, according to new research.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) survey found 30 per cent of businesses remained closed when restrictions started to be eased on April 26, allowing hospitality to reopen with limited hours and no alcohol service indoors.

Of this group, 31 per cent plan to remain closed when lockdown is eased further on Monday with longer opening hours and alcohol permitted inside.

The reseach also surveyed accommodation providers, with nearly half stating that their occupancy rates are below 20 per cent for May, June and July.

Simon Johnson reports.

07:15 AM

Covid test comparison website to end confusion for holidaymakers

A GoCompare-style website for travel testing is to be launched by the Government to end the chaos for holidaymakers – as a test provider exposed by The Telegraph was ditched from the official list.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is set to unveil the new gov.uk website within days to provide holidaymakers with clear information on the cheapest, quickest and most efficient Covid test companies.

His department also wants the site to have customer review scores for each test provider – similar to the ratings for restaurants, bars and hotels – so holidaymakers can be given advance warning of poor service.

It has already removed three providers – 001Doctor.uk, Now Test and Latus Health – from the current Government site following complaints from travellers and has issued warnings to a further handful.

Charles Hymas has the story.

06:52 AM

What happened yesterday?

Here’s a recap of the top headlines:

  • Tour operators to run holidays to amber countries against Government advice

  • Boris Johnson: Green list review every three weeks

  • 'Greek islands should make green list even if mainland does not'

  • Spain plans to waive PCR tests on entry

  • Tui to use larger planes as demand for Portugal soars

  • France moves closer to introduction of vaccine passports

  • The best long-haul holiday options for 2021

Now, on with today's news.

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