The UK should be rewarded for weathering a “devastatingly hard year” with an additional bank holiday, a leading tourism organisation has said.
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which represents more than 2,000 tourism sites across the country, is calling for an extra day off in September to make up for lost business over Easter and the first May bank holiday, which will fall under lockdown restrictions.
The call comes as ALVA released its members’ 2020 visitor figures, which showed trips were down 66 per cent to 45 million from a high of 144 million in 2019.
Bernard Donoghue, director of ALVA, said: “Our annual figures for 2020 reflect what a devastatingly hard year the attractions sector and the wider visitor economy faced. Tourism is the UK’s fifth biggest industry and, as these figures show, was hit first, hit hardest and will take the longest to recover.
“As we approach Easter, one of the economically important times for our members, we continue to question the Government’s decision to open non-essential retail but not indoor attractions, who will also miss the May bank holiday as well.
“In the past 14 months, most of our members have been closed for every Bank Holiday, and therefore we ask the Government to introduce a new bank holiday for 2021 at the end of September to thank the NHS and key workers and help the tourism industry repair our balance sheets.”
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‘Legal concerns’ about domestic vaccine passports, says hospitality chief
Hospitality and retail bosses have warned that the use of vaccine passports or certification for customers entering venues could face “legal concerns” and create enforcement problems for businesses.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pubs and other venues could use vaccine passports, before backtracking slightly to clarify that this may only be introduced once all UK adults have been offered a vaccination.
Speaking as part of a webinar hosted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality said certification could pose a problem for frontline staff.
“This is quite a challenging issue for a lot of people to wrestle with,” she said.
“If you are in a consumer environment, you have legal concerns regarding age, ethnicity, gender, and I don’t think considering a valid test alongside a vaccine certificate is enough.
“From a consumer position, you will also have issues regarding frontline staff having to enforce the law about this.”
For heaven’s sake, clean up after yourself!
Britons have – rightly so – been enjoying themselves in the sunshine after a bleak and interminable winter. But scenes like this are unacceptable.
The world’s Covid hotspots
France is expected to announce a nationwide lockdown this week in response to a third Covid wave. Alongside much of Eastern Europe, and several South American countries, it has one of the highest per capita fatality rates in the world right now.
‘I won’t visit Spain until it ditches its idiotic outdoor mask rules’
The Spanish government, as of today, has made face masks mandatory in all public outdoor spaces, regardless of the circumstances, including on its beaches? Oliver Smith is unimpressed.
Spain has been at pains to assure British holidaymakers that they will be welcome after May 17, when our government might just deign to permit us a foreign break. But I wonder how many would-be visitors will steer well clear after this week’s news. Wearing a mask in a crowded street is one thing, but while sunbathing on a beach? The tan lines alone will spoil the holiday – who wants to return to Blighty with a face like Homer Simpson?
One also cannot understand the timing of the new legislation. The vaccine works. Cases are plummeting. Even in Spain, where the rollout of jabs is far slower than in Britain, they must realise that the end of this sorry ordeal is nigh. So why tighten the noose now? We should be lifting these unscientific rules (or never have imposed them in the first place), not entrenching them further into the statute book. It points to a country that won’t ditch its over the top, safety first, Covid precautionary principle any time soon, and certainly not one I’d pick for my first foreign holiday of the year.
The rules for visiting Europe’s summer hotspots
The Press Association has helpfully outlined the rules for would-be visitors to eight key countries:
It is aiming to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from May 14.
Visitors will be required to have been vaccinated, had a recent negative Covid-19 test or have coronavirus antibodies.
The country has said it wants to reopen its borders “as soon as possible” but has not confirmed how or when UK holidaymakers will be welcomed.
It is considering the use of vaccine passports from May.
The country expects to be open for UK visitors from May 17, which is the earliest date that people in England could be permitted to travel abroad for leisure.
It is likely that holidaymakers will be able to enter without restrictions if they show evidence that they have been vaccinated, have coronavirus antibodies or have received a recent negative test.
France is allowing UK visitors to enter if they have had a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before departure.
But they must currently self-isolate for seven days on arrival, before taking another test.
No date has been confirmed for when measures will be eased.
British nationals who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be welcomed from May 1 without needing to take tests or self-isolate.
All arrivals from the UK on non-essential visits are banned until at least April 6, amid concern over the UK variant of coronavirus.
Travellers must also have proof of a negative molecular or antigen swab test taken in the 72 hours preceding their entry, and take another test within their first 48 hours in the country.
Turkey expects to welcome UK holidaymakers this summer even if they have not been vaccinated or taken a recent test.
It will assess its plan for the summer after April 15.
Fully vaccinated UK travellers will be welcomed from June 1.
Only ‘one in eight’ Britons will go abroad is they have to pay for Covid tests
One of the biggest barriers to overseas travel is the staggering cost of PCR tests. Currently, travellers must take a test before they return to the UK, and two more after they get home – all of which costs in the region of £350 per person.
The rules look likely to stand in the way of any tourism recovery, with new research undertaken by Yonder on behalf of testing provider Cignpost Diagnostics suggesting that fewer than one in eight Britons would go on a holiday abroad if they had to pick up the bill for testing.
Commenting on the situation, Professor Denis Kinane, Chief Medical Officer at Cignpost Diagnostics, said:
It is not only the excessive number of tests that will ensure travel remains impossible for large swathes of the population but also the unnecessary quarantine procedures. Government restrictions expect travellers to self-isolate for 10 days upon return to the UK, which is set to disproportionately impact workers in lower-paid sectors who cannot work from home, and those on zero hours contracts.
Whilst it would be hyperbolic to suggest this regime will lead to the return of the days of ‘The Grand Tour,’ overly excessive restrictions impose a huge extra burden for people going on holiday that is simply not supported by science. One eminently achievable solution to these challenges, which the Government must seriously consider, is to test smarter, rather than more regularly. One test on departure… and another on return to the UK is sufficient to confirm holidaymakers are free from the virus. Anyone testing positive can then be isolated before they infect other people, whilst those testing negative would be free to go back to work.
Which countries are winning the vaccine battle?
Israel and the Seychelles top the chart when it comes to jabs per capita, with the UAE, the UK, the US and Chile not far behind. Meanwhile, plucky Bhutan has shot up the rankings, having vaccinated almost half of its population in the space of four days.
Meanwhile, in Florida…
The US has used its speedy vaccine rollout to unlock far quicker than the UK, and millions have spent recent weeks enjoying spring breaks in hotspots such as Florida (pictured), Bermuda and the Bahamas.
The situation in France
The French parliament will hold a debate and vote on Thursday on measures to tackle the latest Covid wave. The country has one of the highest seven-day infection rates in the world (417 per 100,000) and has been hindered by a slow vaccine rollout.
Global tourism fell 87% in January
Many people thought 2020 was the ultimate annus horribilis for global tourism, but 2021 – so far – is looking just as bleak. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), global tourist arrivals plummeted 87%, year-on-year, in January, with mandatory testing, quarantines, and in some cases the complete closure of borders, all hindering the resumption of international travel.
The Asia and Pacific regions saw the biggest fall (down 96%); Europe and Africa both saw a decline of 85; the Middle East 84%; the Americas 79%.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “2020 was the worst year on record for tourism. The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it. Improved coordination between countries and harmonised travel and health protocols are essential to restore confidence in tourism and allow international travel to resume safely ahead of the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere.”
Is the prospect of vaccine passports putting off young travellers?
StudentUniverse, a youth travel site, says though it’s seen demand slowly increasing for the summer months, the recovery has been sluggish with overall bookings 50 per cent lower than would otherwise be expected at this time of year.
Sam Willan, general manager at StudentUniverse, said:
It is unfair that youth travellers, those at least risk of illness and death from Covid, are the ones who may be last to be able to travel internationally. Young people have given up so many of their freedoms over the past 12 months to help keep the population safe, yet they will be unfairly disadvantaged if they’re unable to start travelling at the same time as older demographics.
The UK Government must develop a fair travel policy for all – including the non-vaccinated – when international travel restarts in May. We hope to hear more clarity about this during the Prime Minister’s announcement on April 5.
Emmanuel Macron to address nation as Covid cases surge
Emmanuel Macron will make a prime-time television address Wednesday, under pressure to stem soaring Covid-19 cases and respond to criticism that he has allowed the pandemic to run out of control.
The French President, went against the recommendation of his scientific advisers by deciding that country would not enter a third lockdown in January.
However daily cases have neared 40,000, while hospitals in infection hotspots like Paris are overflowing,
He will address the nation at 8pm (6pm GMT) following a weekly meeting of top cabinet ministers, with several options reportedly under consideration including the much-resisted national lockdown.
Will you really be able to fly from London to New York in an hour?
Do we finally have a good news story? By the end of the decade, we read, it will be possible to fly from London to New York in less than an hour. This is the kind of headline that makes you do a double-take.
The new superfast jet was announced in the form of a teaser pic from the Florida-based firm Aerion. The AS3, of which more is being revealed later this year, will carry 50 passengers up to 8,000 miles. And the company, in partnership with NASA’s Langley Research Center, is investigating speeds of between Mach 3 and Mach 5. That max equates to just over 3,800mph, meaning a theoretical journey time from London to New York of just one hour.
10 reasons why the sanctimonious ‘holiday in Britain’ crowd is wrong
You cannot ban people from a week in the sun on some kind of wishful precautionary principle, says Chris Moss.
Here’s a taster of Chris’ reasons:
- There’s no room at the inn, or the lodge, or the B&B this summer
- The UK is too expensive
- Human density
- The weather
Glastonbury to stage livestream event
After cancelling the festival for a second year, organisers have announced plans for an ambitious livestream event on May 22.
Coldplay, Damon Albarn and Haim will be among those performing at the five-hour event, which will be staged at various landmarks around the Worthy Farm festival site.
Organiser Emily Eavis told BBC Radio 2: “It’s going to be like the festival but without the people.”
Royal Caribbean International announces British Isles summer cruises
A new day, a new cruise announced domestic sailings around the UK this summer, reports Benjamin Parker. Royal Caribbean International have today announced that Anthem of the Seas will set sail around the British Isles from July.
The series of four-, five- and eight-night cruises will depart Southampton and include stops in Belfast, Liverpool and Kirkwall. Voyages will only be open to those aged 18 and over, with full vaccination against Covid-19 a requirement of boarding; the crew will also be fully vaccinated. Royal Caribbean will also be offering 999 free cruises to those working in the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces “in recognition of the tremendous efforts they have put in over the last year”.
Michael Bayley, the president and chief executive of Royal Caribbean International, said: “The UK is a place we hold near and dear to our heart at Royal Caribbean. We miss our UK guests and are as eager as they are to get back to cruising from Southampton.
“We are delighted with the UK government’s recent announcements regarding cruising and excited to set sail again with a phenomenal ship and favourite such as Anthem of the Seas. After a tough year, we all need a holiday, but no one more so than the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces who will have the long-awaited opportunity to get away and relax with total peace of mind.”
Ryanair to launch new Croatia routes this summer
The budget airline will operate flights to the Dalmatian coast city of Zadar from Newcastle and Liverpool from July.
Leon McQuaid, head of aviation development at Newcastle Airport, said: “It’s fantastic to see more great news from Ryanair for the region with the announcement of Zadar, a brand-new destination for Newcastle Airport this summer.
“As well as being home to some of Croatia’s best beaches, Zadar also provides easy access to three stunning national parks, popular with hikers and rock climbers, and is the main gateway to many of Croatia’s most popular music festivals.”
Heatwave update: Today’s temperatures could surpass 1968 record
Met Office forecaster Alex Burkhill said it was a “possibility” that Wednesday’s temperatures could surpass the March record of 25.6C (78F), set in 1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire.
It comes as the mercury peaked at 24.5C (76.1F) at Kew Gardens in west London on Tuesday – the hottest March day in 53 years.
Snowdonia fears for future after overwhelming pandemic year
The national park has never been more popular, but at what cost? Hugh Morris investigates.
‘Is there a point where there isn’t any more you can do? No matter how much we prepare, whatever we put in place in terms of parking, volunteers, litter picking, we all feel a certain level of anxiety over whether it will be enough.”
Helen Pye is talking about her concerns for Snowdonia over the coming summer. Last year the national park was overwhelmed by more visitors than ever before as the popularity of its beauty spots soared amid pandemic lockdowns. Narrow roads were choked with traffic, car parks filled by 3am and hours-long queues formed at the top of Snowdon, while unprecedented litter spoiled one of the UK’s finest landscapes. In January, during the third lockdown, rangers closed all parking spots to deter travellers; the park was at breaking point.
Malta: The latest Covid stats
As the country announces it will welcome vaccinated British tourists from June 1, here are the latest Covid stats.
Malta to welcome vaccinated British travellers from June 1
Malta will welcome British holidaymakers who can show proof of full vaccination, received at least 10 days before arriving in the country.
These travellers will no longer have to provide a negative PCR test certificate, or take a test on arrival.
Malta is second only to the UK in terms of European countries’ vaccine rollout, with 40 per cent of the adult population having received a first dose.
Tolene Van Der Merwe, Director UK & Ireland of Malta Tourism Authority, commented:
Malta is a very popular destination for British holidaymakers and is a key contributor to Malta’s economy, so we are excited to welcome back fully vaccinated travellers from the United Kingdom from June 1.
The people of Malta are looking forward to tourists returning who have loved our sunshine, culture, food and warm spirit year in year out.
Stay sensible in sunny weather, says Communities Secretary
Robert Jenrick said people should “exercise caution” and avoid “the most crowded places” when going out to enjoy the sunshine.
Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “I think the vast majority of people will enjoy the sunshine this week and at the Easter Weekend, but they’ll do so in a sensible and cautious way.
“The two things aren’t mutually exclusive – you can go and out, have fun, enjoy the great outdoors and the sunshine, while also trying to be careful, sticking to the rules and trying to avoid the most crowded places.”
Universal Studios Hollywood to reopen on April 12
The theme park has announced it will reopen in mid-April, after being shut for more than a year.
Though most of the rides will be in operation, visitor numbers will be severely limited and tickets restricted to California residents only.
The move follows Disneyland California’s announcement that it will reopen on April 30.
Covid cases have recently started to rise in the US, though the vaccine rollout is racing along, with all adults now eligible to book their jab in some states.
62 per cent of Britons in favour of more countries adopting vaccination passports, says survey
A poll commissioned by travel insurance provider Battleface has suggested that a majority of Britons support more countries adopting vaccine passports.
Conversely, 26 per cent of the 2,000 respondents said they would be put off travel if they had to provide proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.
Katie Crowe, director of communications at Battleface, said: “There is still a high degree of uncertainty among British travellers regarding vaccination passports and testing to enable international travel.
“In addition to attitudes towards vaccination passports, the data also showed that while 67 per cent would be prepared to pay for a PCR test to enable them to travel internationally, just 4 per cent of Brits are prepared to pay £75 or over for this test.”
What are your opinions on vaccine passports? Let us know in the comments below.
Easter lockdown rules: What you can and can’t do as restrictions start easing
The “stay at home” rule has lifted, meaning people are no longer legally required to remain in their houses or flats unless taking part in a valid exception.
Similarly the Government has dropped its “stay local” messaging, meaning households are no longer explicitly told to remain in their geographical area.
Instead there is new guidance that encourages people to “minimise” travel – reflecting the fact that the Government does not want people continually moving across the country.
Only two attractions saw increased visitor numbers in 2020, says ALVA
Here are some more details on the 2020 visitor numbers released by The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).
Unsurprisingly, outdoor options fared better than indoor attractions.
- Only two sites saw an increase in visitors, with counters in car parks at Ben Lawers and Ben Lomond in Scotland recording respective rises of 10% and 6%
- Royal Museums Greenwich saw a 96% decline, with 111,263 visits and moved from 9th to 130th place on the table
- Edinburgh Castle, which is normally the most-visited paid for attraction in Scotland, saw an 87% drop
Oscars adds UK hub after travel concerns
British Oscar nominees will be able to take part in the ceremony from a UK venue, if they can’t travel to Los Angeles, organisers have announced.
All nominees were previously asked to attend the April 25 event in person if they wanted to receive their awards, with Zoom speeches explicitly banned.
Ireland to test passengers on arrival
Ireland will require all passengers to take a Covid-19 test on arrival in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday.
The test will be in addition to the pre-departure test already required.
“Even though we have the strictest border biosecurity already in the European Union, we’ll be making that stricter again in the coming weeks, starting with an additional PCR test on arrival as well as before people arrive,” Mr Varadkar said.
The news came as Ireland announced an easing of some restrictions, with two households allowed to meet outdoors from April 12. Significantly, from April 26 fully vaccinated people will be able meet indoors, provided both people have had their second doses at least 14 days previously.
What happened yesterday?
A recap of the top stories:
- Roadmap on reopening international travel to be unveiled on April 5
- ‘Door not shut’: Summer holidays abroad could be saved by secret labs in Wiltshire
- English Heritage sites reopen Europeans flock to Spain
- Germany makes Covid test condition of entry
- Cornwall daytrippers told to stay away amid mini heatwave
- MPs and peers write to Government on travel plight
Now, on with today’s travel news.