Travel news latest: Ski holidays under threat as Italy tightens Covid rules

Italy has today tightened its Covid-19 restrictions, affecting ski holidays for British families this winter. 

The ‘super green pass’ requirement has been extended to a range of additional venues and locations, including hotels. The tightened pass is also a requirement to access ski lifts and ski resorts.

You can only obtain the super green pass with evidence of full vaccination or recent recovery, meaning a negative test result is no longer sufficient for unvaccinated people to ski in Italy. Austria has similarly tight vaccination requirements to access the slopes, and there are reports France could soon do the same.

British teenagers aged 12 and over can now receive a second dose of the vaccine, although uptake has been slow. Approximately one in two 12- to 15-year-olds have not yet received a first dose, and only 50 per cent of 16- to 17 year-olds have received a second jab.  

Italy is seeing a seven-day Covid-19 case rate of 1,833 cases per 100,000, slightly higher than the UK’s 1,814 cases per 100,000. That number is 2,853 in France and 1,740 in Switzerland. In Austria there are 598 cases per 100,000. 

The super green pass is a requirement to board public transport, to enter hotels and to visit bars or restaurants (including outdoor areas), along with museums, cultural spaces and festivals.

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Coral Expeditions cancels Australia sailings

Coral Expeditions has cancelled four Australian sailings due to a “rapid increase” in Covid-19 infections, TTG reports.

The affected routes are: 

  • Circumnavigation of Tasmania, due to depart Hobart January 1
  • Coastal Treks of Tasmania to depart Hobart January 17
  • Outerknown Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns on January 4 and 11
  • Across the Top of Australia, which was set to depart Cairns on January 20

The line said: “The known characteristics of the Omicron variant create unique challenges for us and the travel industry in general.

“Our priority is of course to protect guest and crew health and the trust of our travel industry partners.”


The real reason why planes are so boring nowadays

The Secret Pilot writes:

When making a trip to the airport now, instead of seeing a whole range of weird and wonderful aircraft, they all seem to be identikits. The standard tube-like body shape, two engines slung under the wings, horizontal stabilisers at the base of the tail. To the untrained eye, an A350 is the same as a 787. An A320 identical to a 737. With the loss of unique aircraft, commercial aviation has become unremarkable.

Find out why here.


Thailand scraps quarantine-free visas

Thailand has suspended a quarantine-free visa program for vaccinated visitors and ordered a ban on the sale of alcohol at restaurants in areas deemed at high risk of infections to curb the spread of the omicron variant. 

Bangkok, Phuket and six other tourist destinations were spared from harsh containment measures, but  alcohol consumption was banned at restaurants and other commercial establishments after 9pm, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the task force, said at a briefing on Friday.

Overseas visitors already holding valid visas for the quarantine waiver would still be able to enter the country, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said in a statement Saturday.

Travellers who had already received approvals under the government’s ‘Test and Go’ program may still enter the country with their approved length of stay, Thanakorn said, reversing a Friday announcement that set an entry deadline of Jan. 15. The government will closely monitor the situation and consider the number of cases and risk factors in adjusting measures, Thanakorn added.   


Turkey predicts strong tourism recovery for 2022

More than 330,000 UK travellers visited Turkey in the first 11 months of 2021, according to the Turkish Government.

Turkey was removed from the UK Government’s red list on September 23. 

A statement from Turkish Tourism Board in the UK said:

2022 is set to be a year of strong recovery for Turkey in the UK market. The feedback we are receiving from our UK tour operator partners highlights strong levels of forward bookings for summer 2022, supported by an increased number of flights between the UK and Turkey this year.


The worst holiday of my life was in a French barn overrun with mice

When a plan for a summer break unravelled at the last-minute, an alternative lodging in the rural north of France proved less than desirable, writes Chris Leadbeater.

Chris and his toddler son

Chris and his toddler son

It started, as these things so often do, with a misunderstanding. The small cottage at the end of a lane in southern Normandy – owned by friends, and, for years, open to guests at very generous mates’ rates – would not, after all, be available in the last week of August. Somehow, somewhere, wires had been crossed. Someone else would be making the drive from Calais to Rouen, then on towards Alencon and Lassay-les-Chateaux. And the garden behind the property, with its apple trees and its view down to the River Mayenne, would not be a secure playground for a toddler’s faltering steps. Not our toddler, anyway.

Read the full story.


Sweden to tighten Covid measures

Sweden will introduce more measures to stem rising Covid cases, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday.

“The situation has deteriorated, without doubt. The level of infections in Sweden is at a historically high level,” Andersson told a news conference.

The new measures, most of which will be introduced on Wednesday, include a work-from-home mandate, where possible, and a cap on the number of people allowed at public events.

Restaurants will have to close by 11pm and guests will have to be seated and in groups no greater than eight people. Adults will be asked to limit social contact in indoor settings.

The measures will be evaluated after two weeks, but are expected to be in place for at least four weeks.


‘The village is back to its bustling self’: What it’s like to be on a ski holiday right now

Despite tightened rules across Europe, it is still possible to go skiing – Alex Moore explains what to expect in Wengen and on the slopes. 

alex and friends

Alex (second left) was ecstatic to return to the ski slopes to share Christmas with family and friends

Here’s a snippet of her experience: 

The village feels back to its bustling self. On the jam-packed high street on New Year’s Eve, Covid seemed almost forgotten for a moment, with people cheering, hugging and toasting with a magical firework display above the slopes. We were allowed to tumble into our favourite local and dance the night away until at least 4am – what a delightful taste of normality.

Read the full story.


Israel reopens to fully vaccinated Britons

Israel has reopened to UK travellers, with stipulations, now that the country has scrapped its red list. 

The UK is in Israel’s orange category for travel. This allows vaccinated or recovered Britons to visit. Entry rules include a PCR test on arrival, followed by self-isolation until a negative result is received or for 24 hours after arrival, whichever comes first.

Sharon E. Bershadsky, director, Israel Government Tourist office in London, said:

After a turbulent two years for the travel industry we are delighted the recommendation by the Israeli Health Ministry to reopen Israel skies to travellers has been approved. Despite the borders being closed for four weeks the reopening has sparked hope and anticipation that this positive start to the New Year will set the pattern for 2022 travel.

There is of course still a long way to go but we are deeply encouraged by this significant milestone, and have faith that it is the first step in reducing the travel uncertainty created by Covid-19 and replacing it with a desire to explore new destinations, cultures and food, whilst remaining safe and confident at all times.

See the entry rules in detail.


Royal Caribbean drops routes due to omicron

Royal Caribbean cruises has paused some of its cruise operations amid a surge in omicron infections.

The Miami-based Symphony of the Seas will be out of service from January 8 and will resume on January 29. Also Miami-based Jewel of the Seas has paused from January 9 and will begin again on February 20.

Tampa-based Serenade of the Seas has cancelled operations from January 9 until March 4, and Vision of the Seas, which has not restarted passenger services yet, will begin services from Port Everglades from March 7.

Royal Caribbean has said impacted passengers will receive assistance and compensation options.


Planning a trip to France?

Here’s everything you need to know about travel to France this winter, and when the travel ban could end.

Read the article here.


Good news for holidaymakers as pound hits pandemic high against euro 

After a subdued start to the day, sterling has now rallied to its highest level against the euro since just before the pandemic hit.

The pound was 0.2 per cent higher at 83.38p after hitting its highest level since February 2020.

Growing expectations of a Bank of England interest rate rise and easing fears about the impact of omicron have both helped sterling to gain ground in recent weeks.

James Warrington has the latest on our business live blog.


Carrie Johnson enjoys day out at the beach with children

Carrie Johnson beamed in the winter sunlight as she posed for photographs with her children at a sandy beach on Sunday. 

The Prime Minister’s family wrapped up warm as they escaped London for some sea air, posing for a series of images shared by Mrs Johnson, 33, on Instagram.

Carrie Johnson is seen carrying newborn Romy, while Wilfred and dog Dilyn play on the beach

Carrie Johnson is seen carrying newborn Romy, while Wilfred and dog Dilyn play on the beach

 INSTAGRAM/carrielbjohnson/ INSTAGRAM/carrielbjohnson

With newborn daughter Romy snuggled up in a baby carrier, son Wilfred ran across the sand and paddled in the shallow water. Wilfred will turn two in April, while Romy was born a month ago on Dec 9. 

The trio were accompanied by their dog, Dilyn, although it is not known if Boris Johnson also joined them. The pictures are believed to have been taken at Thorpe Bay in Essex.


Meanwhile, in Mexico City

A look at the scenes in Mexico City Airport over the weekend, as airlines are hit by staff shortages due to the outbreak of omicron.

Mexico City Airport


Mexico City Airport


Mexico City Airport



Turkmenistan ‘Gates of Hell’ could be extinguished

The ‘Gates of Hell‘ in Turkmenistan could soon be extinguished, after the president said it was causing ecological damage.

The burning crater is located 160 miles north of the capital city of Ashgabat. At 20 metres (60ft) deep and 60 metres (190ft) wide, the Gates of Hell were formed after a gas drill collapsed in 1971.

The Gates of Hell is one of Turkmenistan's leading tourist attractions

The Gates of Hell is one of Turkmenistan’s leading tourist attractions


It was set alight to burn off the natural gas, with the expectation it would burn off within weeks, but 50 years later it continues to burn.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, has asked for the inferno to be ended.

“We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people,” he said on state TV.

He added that his team should “find a solution to extinguish the fire”.


Lufthansa makes 18,000 empty flights to keep routes

Lufthansa Group has confirmed that 18,000 flights have been flown empty this winter, according to a report in The Bulletin.

EU rules say that airlines must operate a certain percentage of scheduled flights in order to keep their slots at airports. 

Under these regulations, prior to the pandemic airlines had to hit 80% of their schedule. This was lowered to 50% during the pandemic, but some carriers are struggling to hit these numbers.

Lufthansa Group, which comprises Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings, plus Brussels Airlines, has axed 33,000 flights in January and February due to the omicron outbreak and travel restrictions.


London’s worst tourist attraction closes after six months

The Marble Arch Mound, a £6m project standing 25m tall and much-mocked for resembling a turf-covered piece of scaffolding, will close this weekend.

The Mound

The Mound

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Mound promised mature trees and greenery on a busy corner of Hyde Park, with views across London and Oxford Street, but soon after opening visitors gave unhappy reviews of the experience.

The attraction was originally priced at £3.3m, but eventually came to £6m.


Have you booked a holiday since New Year’s Day?

Holiday bookings are up after the UK Government eased travel testing rules.

Have you booked a holiday since January 1? Comment at the bottom of this article to let us know your plans.


No roaming charges on O2 and Virgin Media

Customers on O2 and Virgin Media will not face EU roaming charges this year.

Two of the UK’s top four networks – EE and Vodafone – have reintroduced roaming charges  for customers visiting the EU from this month.

Gareth Turpin, of Virgin Media O2, said:

“We’re starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile.  

“Unlike all the other major mobile networks who are bringing back roaming fees, we will not be following suit.  

“With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we’ve got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.”  


Singapore to reopen borders even as omicron spreads

Singapore’s transport minister S Iswaran today expressed a commitment to reopening the country’s borders and to set up more quarantine-free travel agreements.

“Our goal is to restore quarantine-free travel with more countries and regions as allowed for by the public health assessment,” he said. “We remain confident of the long-term potential of air travel and are resolutely committed to working with Changi Airport Group and airline partners to rebuild and reclaim Singapore’s status as an international air hub.”   

Changi Airport is often voted the world's best airport 

Changi Airport is often voted the world’s best airport 


In 2021, Changi Airport saw a traffic uptick after Singapore established vaccination ‘travel lanes‘ with two dozen countries. These allowed tourists and business travellers into the city state without the need to quarantine.

Travel lane ticket sales have been put on hold since December 23, as the country deals with a surge of omicron cases. Border rules are expected to relax later this month.


Booking surge over the weekend

On ‘Sunshine Saturday‘ thousands of British holidaymakers booked their big holiday for the year ahead.

Scott Dunn has reported booking numbers equal to pre-pandemic sales in January 2020, while Mercury Holidays has seen bookings rise by 100%. Sri Lanka, Malta and Mauritius are the company’s top holiday destinations.


Spanish PM suggests tracking pandemic differently as Covid lethality has fallen

The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday it may be time to track the pandemic differently as Covid-19’s lethality has fallen, confirming a report from El Pais newspaper that the government was mulling alternative monitoring methods.

“We have the conditions to gradually, with precaution, open the debate at a technical level and European level, to start evaluating the evolution of this disease with different parameters than we have until now,” Sanchez said in an interview with radio station Cadena SER.

The Spanish government is considering changing how it tracks the pandemic’s evolution to instead use a method similar to how it follows the flu, without recording every case and without testing all people presenting symptoms, El Pais reported on Monday.


Women’s camel beauty contest makes debut in Saudi 

Saudi women, in a first for the conservative kingdom, have paraded their camels in a beauty pageant for the prized “ships of the desert”.

“I hope today to reach a certain social standing, inshallah (God willing),” said Lamia al-Rashidi, 27, who participated at the weekend contest in the Rumah desert north-east of the capital Riyadh.

Saudi cameleers and horsewomen take part in a parade during the sixth edition of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in the Rumah region 

Saudi cameleers and horsewomen take part in a parade during the sixth edition of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in the Rumah region 

Fayez Nureldine/AFP

The event, part of the prestigious King Abdelaziz Festival, was previously a men-only affair.

Read the full report here.


‘EasyJet refused to help my elderly friend find his Covid travel documents, so he missed his flight’ 

One reader writes:

Dear Sally,

An elderly friend called me in distress to say he was stuck at Alicante airport in Spain after being turned away from an easyJet flight to Manchester. He was not allowed to board as he was struggling to bring up the email on his mobile phone showing the QR code for his passenger locator form, which is required for travelling back to the UK.

Airline staff would not help him and because he could not show the form they stopped him from boarding. Can you help him?

CJ, Lancashire

Read Sally’s response here.


The new Covid travel rules – from lateral flow testing to isolation requirements

The testing rules for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK have been eased in the latest travel review.

Those travelling to the UK will no longer have to take a pre-departure test from 4am on Friday (January 7) and the required Day 2 PCR test will been downgraded to a rapid lateral flow test from 4am on Sunday (January 9) – with the need to isolate until they receive a negative result removed from 4am on Friday (January 7).

The news follows the removal of all 11 countries from the red list last month, meaning no arrivals are currently subject to a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel. 

Here’s everything you need to know.


Cancun tightens restrictions

Cancun faces a tightening of restrictions amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

With some hospitals reaching 100% occupancy, Cancun will move from ‘green’ to ‘yellow’ from today until January 16 at the earliest.

Quintana Roo, the state which contains Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, has been designated as ‘green’ for some months now, meaning most businesses have been able to operate at full capacity.

Holidays in Cancun will be affected by the heightened Covid-19 rules

Holidays in Cancun will be affected by the heightened Covid-19 rules


However, the status change will mean hotels, restaurants and other tourist services will be reduced to a 60% capacity. Bars and nightclubs will be unable to open, and vaccination certificates will become mandatory in venues containing more than 150 people.

Tourists are strongly recommended to contact their holiday provider if visiting Cancun in the coming weeks.


The top travel stories from the weekend

In case you forgot to check in with us over the weekend, here’s a recap of some of the Telegraph’s top travel features from the last two days.


Is the end in sight for our Covid-19 travel woes?

The end of the pandemic is “in sight”, the WHO special envoy on Covid-19 has said, as he warned of “bumps ahead”.

Speaking on Sky News, Dr David Nabarro said: “We are moving through the marathon, but there’s no actual way to say that we’re at the end.

“We can see the end in sight, but we’re not there. There’s going to be some bumps before we get there.”


All the venues affected by Italy’s ‘super green pass’

You will have to be fully vaccinated, or have recently recovered from Covid-19, in order to access:

  • Restaurants and bars (including indoor and outdoor)
  • Public transport, including local buses
  • School buses for children aged 12 and over
  • Hotels
  • Ski lifts
  • Indoor and outdoor pools
  • Wellness centres, gyms and sports facilities
  • Spas and thermal baths
  • Museums, exhibitions and cultural spaces
  • Religious celebration events
  • Fairs, festivals, conventions, conferences
  • Theme parks
  • Cultural, social and recreational centres
  • Bingo halls, betting rooms, casinos, games rooms

Read more from the source page

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