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Travel companies are reporting a huge jump in bookings following the latest travel announcement, which will see the much-maligned traffic light system scrapped.
Skyscanner reported a 103 per cent increase in bookings on Friday, when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed the changes, compared to the previous week, and a spokesman said that they were “continuing to see the numbers go up throughout the weekend.”
Martin Nolan, Skyscanner’s traveller expert said: “It’s clear from our most recent booking figures that travellers are delighted with the latest travel news, not just for holidays and leisure travel, but also for those who will now be able to be reunited with loved ones abroad.”
TravelSupermaket reported similar trends, with demand for late summer trips to European hotspots – Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal – among the most popular. Turkey, which will be removed from the red list on Wednesday, has leapt to become the website’s second-most searched for destination.
The firm cited the change in testing requirements, and subsequent savings, as another factor in demand for holidays.
Elsewhere Thomas Cook reported a 200 per cent rise in half term bookings following the announcement, with chief executive Alan French expecting it to increase further. Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said they have seen “an immediate and massive surge in bookings”.
Scroll down for the latest news as it happens.
The cruises that prove the best of the Med can be found after summer
From island hopping in Croatia to exploring the Holy Land, there’s no better tonic than a cruise on the big blue as we slide into autumn, writes Sara Macefield.
The Mediterranean may be synonymous with summer holidays but, when it comes to cruises, the next few months make for a glorious holiday at sea. The fierce heat of summer has subsided and the heaving crowds of tourists have thinned out. Excursions on shore coincide with the grape harvest, and the first press of olives. The high temperatures of peak season give way to cool, languid days packed with flavour for tourists.
But the best part of an autumnal Med voyage is, really, that there’s no such thing as bad weather. Instead, it’s all about picking the best spot on the map and plotting a course.
Travel ban and lockdown for Laos
Laos has locked down its capital Vientiane and barred travel between Covid-hit provinces, as cases soared to a record high.
The communist country appeared to have escaped the brunt of the pandemic in 2020, and by March this year had reported fewer than 60 cases – though the low number was due in part to limited testing. But a surge since mid-April has seen its caseload steadily increase, and on Saturday the country reported 467 new cases of community infection, its highest ever single-day tally.
The mayor of Vientiane, where the bulk of the cases were detected, declared a strict lockdown on Sunday for two weeks, ordering residents to stay in their homes unless obtaining food, medicine or making their way to a hospital.
Travel between seven other hard-hit provinces is banned, while entry into Vientiane requires a quarantine of 14 days.
Sydney cases fall as curbs ease in virus hotspots
Australia’s New South Wales(NSW) has today reported its lowest rise in daily Covid-19 cases in more than three weeks as some lockdown restrictions were eased in Sydney, the state capital, amid higher vaccination levels.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said 935 new cases had been detected in NSW, the lowest daily tally since Aug. 27, and down from 1,083 on Sunday. The state reported four more deaths.
Nearly half of Australia’s 25 million people is in lockdown after the delta variant spread rapidly in Sydney and Melbourne forcing officials there to abandon a Covid-zero target and shift to rapid vaccinations to ease curbs.
With 53 per cent of NSW’s adult population now fully vaccinated, some restrictions on gatherings were relaxed on Monday in 12 of the worst-hit suburbs in Sydney’s west. Time limits for outdoor exercise were lifted, while the fully vaccinated people can gather outside in groups of five.
Neighbouring Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, logged one new death and 567 new infections, its biggest daily rise this year, a day after revealing its roadmap back to freedom when vaccinations reach 70 per cent, expected around October 26.
Fiji aiming for November tourism restart
Fijiplans to reopen for international tourists by November, aiming to rebuild a pandemic-devastated economy while battling a delta-variant outbreak.
“Our goal is to free our country – and our economy – from the rut of the pandemic,” Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a statemen.
Once 80 per cent of Fiji’s eligible population is vaccinated, it will offer quarantine-free travel to visitors from a “green list” of locations. Of Fiji’s eligible population, 66 per cent is now fully vaccinated and Bainimarama predicts the country’s target will be met by November 1.
Fiji’s green list includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Korea, Singapore and parts of the United States. Visitors would need to be fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 prior to departure.
Lockdown in Auckland to stay for another fortnight
New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will remain in a Covid-19 lockdown for at least another two weeks, although some restrictions will be eased, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today.
Ardern said the city of two million would move down to level three on New Zealand’s four-tier coronavirus response system by late Tuesday, even as authorities remain committed to eliminating a Delta-variant outbreak.
“We’re moving now because the advice we have is that we do not have widespread, undetected transmission in Auckland,” she told reporters. “If everyone continues to play their part, we can continue stamping out (the virus).”
The change means stay-at-home orders will remain in place but some businesses, such as takeaway food outlets, can open using contactless delivery.
New Zealand imposed a nationwide lockdown on August 17 when the first case of the highly transmissible Delta variant was found in the community. The cluster has been concentrated in Auckland and the rest of the country moved out of lockdown earlier this month.
PM won’t need to ‘bang tables’ over US travel ban
There will be “no need” for Boris Johnson to “bang any tables” as he looks to persuade Joe Biden to restart travel between the UK and US, a minister has said.
The Prime Minister is expected to make an “impassioned” case for why the US President should lift his travel ban by allowing fully vaccinated people in the UK to travel directly into America.
James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Obviously international travel is incredibly important for the UK. We want to get to situation where Brits can travel to one of our closest partners in the world.”
Mr Johnson will be making the case that “travel to and from UK is safe, it is important to us and as a strong international partners it is what we should be looking to do”, he added, stressing that the recent Ausuk deal demonstrated that the two countries were “very much on the same page”.
He added: “I have no doubt there will be no need to bang any tables to get the point across.”
The new green list countries which are actually open to Britons
Eight countries have been plucked from the red list but entry rules differ for each.
Egypt, the Maldives and Oman offer up enticing options for winter sun and fully vaccinated UK tourists can visit quarantine-free. Turkey is also open to Britons and will be removed from the hotel quarantine list – those who act swiftly will catch the tail end of the summer season before temperatures fall.
Kenya and Sri Lanka could also be feasible. Kenya imposes quarantine on UK travellers, but this could be carried out in a safari camp; Sri Lanka requires double-vaxxed travellers to wait in a quarantine hotel for a negative arrival test result. Pakistan is open to UK travellers with a negative test (plus rapid test on arrival), while Bangladesh requires a 14-day quarantine.
Latest advice: Travel to the US
On the topic of the United States, our destination experts have the latest travel information and advice.
A ban on non-essential travel from Europe to the US makes it very difficult to cross the pond right now – but could this change soon?
Boris Johnson: ‘Lift travel ban and let Britons back into America’
Boris Johnson will push Joe Biden to change Covid-19 travel rules and let Britons fly to America when they meet on Tuesday in the White House for the first time.
The Prime Minister will make an “impassioned” case for why the US President should lift his travel ban by allowing fully vaccinated people in the UK to travel directly into America.
Mr Biden’s failure to ease restrictions – despite both leaders pledging to take action when they met at the G7 summit in June – has frustrated Whitehall and left UK businesses despairing.
The Prime Minister flew to New York on Sunday, kick-starting a four-day US visit where he will attend the UN General Assembly before his first White House trip since entering Number 10 in July 2019.
How to holiday in Turkey
No other Mediterranean destination offers the visitor as much variety as Turkey, writes our destination expert Terry Richardson. And with the country due to officially come off the red list this week, now’s the time to book a holiday.
Such a remarkably diverse topography, climate and flora and fauna means Turkey offers every kind of holiday experience you could wish for – with warm temperatures well into October. To relax, lounge by the beach or pool at an all-inclusive near Mediterranean Antalya, or cruise the beautiful Turquoise Coast aboard a traditional wooden sailing boat (gulet).
Feeling more active? The Turquoise Coast and its hinterland is perfect for kayaking, scuba-diving, canyoning, mountain-biking and hiking the waymarked Carian and Lycian trails. Accommodation ranges from simple, family-run pensions in places like Dalyan, Kaş and Patara to luxurious hotels in chic Bodrum and golfer’s favourite, Belek – and everything in between, so there’s something for every budget.
Jet2 see ‘phenomenal’ reaction to travel announcement
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have reported a 250 per cent rise in booking following the Government’s travel announcement last week that saw plans for the ‘traffic light’ system to be dropped, double-jabbed travellers from ‘safe’ countries no longer forced to take any sort of test before they get on a flight home from overseas, and, from later in October, only a lateral flow on their second day back in the UK – rather than a costly PCR test.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said:
There has been a phenomenal reaction from customers since yesterday’s announcement with bookings spiking by more than 250 per cent. People are clearly desperate to get away for some summer sun, as the demand for holidays in the next few weeks has been huge.
Turkey is proving “exceptionally popular”, he added, and half term dates “have also seen a surge in bookings for families.”
Welcome to our live coverage of the latest travel news. Here’s a reminder of the top stories from the end of last week:
- Eight countries will move off the red list on September 22
- Pre-departure tests for return to England will be scrapped for fully vaccinated (from Oct 4)
- Day 2 tests will be replaced with lateral flow tests for double jabbed (later in Oct)
- Traffic light system will be replaced with single red list from Oct 4
- Rules for the ‘rest of the world’ will be determined by a traveller’s vaccination status
Follow us here throughout the day for travel news as it happens.