The Land of Smiles is grinning and bearing ahead with its plan to welcome tourists back to its shores in October – but there's a catch, or 25. A recently released infographic plots out all the hoops potential visitors will have to jump through before being allowed anywhere near the country, from submitting a visa application to four different branches of the Thai Government, to agreeing to a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) hotel, to health checks, Covid tests, insurance requirements, and a minimum stay of 30 days. "The new, and rather complicated, visa scheme announced by the Thai authorities will do little to increase the number of tourists to Thailand,' said Tim Milner, director of Bamboo Travel. "It may work for back-packers, or retirees hoping to see out the winter in Thailand, but it will not instill the confidence needed to entice normal tourists back to Thailand. In short it is simply not practical to impose a 14-day quarantine on holidaymakers who can ill afford to take a month’s holiday at a time." To Britons and other Europeans who have been able to fly around the continent relatively freely for the last few months, this might seem like a lamentable process but Thailand's borders have been sealed to all but a handful of foreign visitors since late March. The move helped to protect the country while the virus wreaked havoc elsewhere around the globe. To date, Thailand has recorded 3,516 cases of Covid-19 and 59 deaths among a population of nearly 70 million, a response that the World Health Organisation has recognised as one of the best. The destinations welcoming digital nomads, from Anguilla to Estonia It's an achievement Thailand is reluctant to tarnish by reopening its borders too soon. Public fears of foreigners re-importing the virus also remain high but with the Thai tourist industry all but obliterated – 2.5 million people working in tourism are in line to lose their jobs by end of the year with thousands of people in Phuket alone currently relying on food donations – the pressure is on to find a way for international visitors to return. To make the prospect of quarantining more tempting, the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) have suggested the process will be '14 days of fun', with a plan to deliver the delights of Thailand to people's rooms through virtual yoga, meditation, cooking lessons and Thai language classes. The TAT is also encouraging approved hotels to arrange real life activities, such as live music shows which guests could enjoy from their rooms. The first STV visitors are expected to arrive from Europe in October on specially chartered flights and could potentially stay for up to 270 days, but it's hard to imagine there will be a high uptake. A poll conducted by the TAT's London office suggested only six per cent of British tourists would be willing to spend two weeks in quarantine on arrival. "We can't see this creating any increased demand," said Simon Lynch, director of sales at Scott Dunn, which offers holidays to Thailand. "The proposal is incredibly complex and will be off putting to guests looking for an easy getaway in a time where travel has become more of a task than a joy."
Holidays cannot not be deemed “essential” travel. The prospect of six months of 'shutdown' restrictions may, to many, make overseas breaks seem frivolous. Yet, in my experience, even briefly swapping gloom-laden Britain for somewhere with a sunnier disposition delivers a much-needed shot of positivity.
It’s been an extraordinarily tough few months in the hospitality world. During lockdown the country was in a spin, and uncertainty over the future forever loomed in a cloud.
After a brief post-lockdown respite over the summer, when borders reopened and mostly healthy Europeans scattered across the Continent to stretch their legs and bask in the sun, the gates are closing again.
If you are feeling robust in the face of constantly changing restrictions and you fancy booking a holiday, how do you best avoid the risks of cancellations, local lockdowns and sudden changes to quarantine rules?
As the UK stares down the barrel of reimposed Covid restrictions, a holiday abroad seems some way off – especially to Australia, where borders are still closed to international tourists. But hopes are high that tourism Down Under will pick up again in 2021. Until then, here are six of the best island escapes to start planning a 2021 trip to in the interim.
Every day, for the past couple of decades, hundreds of gap year students and professionals on a sabbatical land at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to kick off months-long journeys along the well-trodden paths of the ‘Banana Pancake Trail’, a classic, loosely defined route through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, lined with budget-friendly accommodations, postcard sights and plenty of boozy bars on palm-fringed beaches.
“Face your demons head-on,” beams Patrik, my rugged kayaking guide who had me swooning before the philosophical sound bites kicked in. “Fear lingers until it’s conquered.” Although I trust him, every bone in my body wants to disobey.
People in Scotland and Wales who have booked holidays over October half term risk losing thousands of pounds, after the devolved governments warned against non-essential travel over the school holidays. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, first ministers of Scotland Wales, have advised people to avoid non-essential foreign trips over the October school holidays. Speaking on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said families had to consider the October half term as “an opportunity to further limit social interaction”. “Given that this is a global pandemic, please do not book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential," she said. Drakeford said he was “not saying ‘no holidays’”. However, he told the BBC: “Think carefully about those journeys. If they’re necessary you must make them. If they’re not necessary, please don’t travel unless you have to. That is the message here in Wales.” Despite these warnings, the Foreign Office travel advice has not changed. There are still around 60 countries and territories where people from Scotland and Wales can visit because the UK Government assesses them as “not posing an unacceptably high risk to travellers”. This means that if a holidaymaker follows the informal “stay home” order issued this week, but their holiday company carries on with their holiday in accordance with Foreign Office advice, the individual or family will likely lose money without scope for a refund. There is currently no indication that Westminster is planning on following the lead of Scotland and Wales. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert, Nick Trend, says: “Scots and Welsh travellers are not entitled to a refund if they cancel their overseas trips in line with recommendations by their governments to avoid holidays overseas. “It seems entirely unreasonable for those who have paid in advance to lose out and, since the recommendations don’t currently have legal force, my advice to those who have already booked is to go ahead with your holiday as planned. Unless that is it is cancelled by the operator or airline, in which case you must be offered a refund.” Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel magazine, told the Times: “There cannot be one rule for holidaymakers and another for airlines. If people are being asked not to travel, then airlines should be made to provide rebooking at no additional cost or refund options to their customers, to prevent them from being left out of pocket or putting public health at risk by taking a holiday they can’t afford to cancel.” Portia Jones, from Cardiff, has a holiday booked to Sicily over October half term. She says she will travel regardless of what the Welsh government encourages. “Encouraging us against travel is far too wishy-washy for me, either say we can travel, or lock us down. The last few months have been nothing but contradictory advice, poorly communicated by people clearly out of their depth. “I haven’t been anywhere in months and it would be great to get away from the disaster that is the UK for a week. We'll follow all the social distancing regulations, wash our hands and try to keep safe of course, as we have been doing here. I’m dreaming of an Aperol spritz in the sun after months of anxiety and uncertainty.” UK holidaymakers can visit an ever-shrinking number of countries. Since the UK border reopened in July, holiday favourites including Spain, France, Croatia, Portugal and the Greek islands have lost their travel corridors. More countries look set to be added to the UK’s ‘no-go’ list later today, with Denmark and Iceland both in the crosshairs. Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention show the Danish case rate has climbed to 56 per 100,000 people in seven days, while in Iceland it stands at 69 – both well above the Government’s ‘safe’ marker of 20 per 100,000. There are concerns that the whole of Greece may also be removed after the number of cases nationally rose above 20 earlier this week. While some Greek islands – including Mykonos and Santorini – are already on English and Welsh quarantine lists due to local outbreaks, the continued rise could be enough for both to take Scotland’s lead in imposing travel restrictions on the whole of Greece. Italy has also seen an increase in the number of new cases this week, and while the rate is still below 20 (it currently stands at 18), it is possible that Sardinia, which has a much higher case rate, could be placed on the no-go list while the rest of the country remains exempt. All changes to the UK’s list of travel corridors will be revealed at 5pm today by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, in his weekly quarantine policy update.
It seems the Government has unwittingly just banged another nail into the coffin of the UK hospitality industry.
Some people like a challenge. Josh Leibowitz, the man charged with steering Seattle-based Seabourn Cruise Line through the choppy waters of the coronavirus crisis, is clearly one of them.
The walls are closing in for British holidaymakers. On the one hand, our list of Government-approved destinations – which we can visit without needing to self-isolate on our return home – is shrinking. Recent weeks have seen Spain, France, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Malta, Netherlands, Czech Republic and mainland Portugal, among others, removed. At 5pm tomorrow, following the weekly review of our travel corridors, the quarantine bell will likely toll for Denmark and Iceland. On the other hand, with the seven-day case rate rising on British soil (currently 44 per 100,000), nations that remain on our green list are getting nervous about welcoming UK residents. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Norway all recently imposed quarantine measures on British arrivals, with isolation periods ranging from 10 to 14 days. Reports suggest Denmark will do likewise when it reviews its own travel policy (also on Thursday) – if Boris doesn’t scupper your hopes of a weekend in Copenhagen, his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen will. So which other travel options could soon be lost? As of September 23, our list of restriction-free holiday possibilities is as follows: Denmark Germany Gibraltar Greece (excluding several islands, while Scots must self-isolate when they visit any part of Greece) Greenland Italy Liechtenstein Poland San Marino Slovakia Sweden Turkey Denmark looks certain to be ditched, while Gibraltar’s rising case rate (62.3 per 100,000) also puts it at risk. If Denmark is ditched that means Greenland is out (hardly a disaster unless you planned to spend your winter chasing polar bears and eating fermented shark). Which leaves nine options. Liechtenstein, to be fair, is hardly an option. It has no airport and borders Switzerland and Austria, two countries on Britain’s quarantine naughty step, so to reach it without breaking the rules you’ll need to fly to Germany and drive there, being careful not to stop in Austria and mingle with the infected (fill up the tank in Lindau, not Bregenz). Nobody will bother. Of more concern to UK travellers is Greece – and it could be the next domino to fall. It is currently denying entry, unless you can present proof of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before, to arrivals from a clutch of countries with high case rates, including Malta (76.7 per 100,000), Romania (48.3), Albania (35.4), Czech Republic (127.4), Belgium (77.4), Spain (166.4), Netherlands (77.1) and North Macedonia (45.8). It stands to reason that Britain (current case rate 44) will soon be added to this list. Getting a private test for travel in under 72 hours is usually possible (expect to pay around £150 per person), but now that demand is on the rise UK labs are prioritising clinical and work-related testing over leisure. Clinics are warning that tests for travellers may not be processed in time, a scenario that would leave sunseekers well and truly in the lurch. Few will take the risk. Slovakia could then be the next destination taken off the menu. It currently requires all arrivals from high-risk countries (including France, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands, but not – yet – the UK) to self-isolate for five days, after which they can take a free test and, if negative, be freed from their solitude). Fine if you’re staying for a few weeks, not if you’re on a mini-break. So then there would be just six options (well it’s really five because the airport-less enclave of San Marino can’t be reached without first visiting Italy): Germany Poland Italy (and San Marino) Sweden Turkey Of most concern to UK travellers would be Italy. After a jump in cases last month its Covid ship has steadied, and you may well be tempted by a last-minute trip to the Amalfi Coast or an eerily empty Venice. I visited Lake Orta a few weeks ago and can heartily recommend it as an uplifting alternative to being lectured by Whitty and Vallance. Our contacts in Italy, however, believe Britain’s current Covid spike will soon see restrictions on UK arrivals imposed within days. A full quarantine is possible, but more likely will be a requirement (like Greece) to present proof of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours previously. This rule currently applies to arrivals from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain. Given that Spain’s seven-day case rate (166.4 per 100,000) towers above ours, anything more severe would be grossly unfair. Italy offers another option, however. Arrivals from the same four countries, so long as they arrive at one of several major airports (including Fiumicino and Ciampino airports in Rome, Malpensa and Linate airports in Milan, and Marco Polo airport in Venice), can take a rapid test right there and then. If it comes back negative, hey presto – you’re free to enjoy your holiday. Regardless of our rising case rate, holidays in Italy (and, er, San Marino) look safe. Germany too, looks likely to be a holiday option for the foreseeable future. It is taking a fairly lenient and highly regional approach when it comes to its list of high-risk destinations – only certain parts of France, for example, are included. Furthermore, arrivals from high-risk regions, as with Italy, can skip the self-isolation if they take a test at the airport (some German states, however, require a second negative test a few days later before granting exemption from quarantine). It makes you wonder why Britain can’t offer something similar. The other three options – Poland, Turkey and Sweden – could well be the last three countries Britons can visit without any test or any form of restriction. Poland is welcoming all UK, European Union or EFTA nationals – regardless of their nation’s infection rate. All passengers, of all nationalities, who meet Turkish immigration rules are permitted entry to Turkey (they are subject to a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, however, and may be required to take a test). And Sweden – bless them – has no restrictions on arrivals from any EU or EEA country (including the UK). Come what may, Stockholm, Krakow and Istanbul should still be autumn holiday options. Unless, that is, the UK decides to further spoil the party by restricting all foreign travel – as it did during the spring lockdown. But Boris wouldn’t foist that on this “freedom-loving” country, surely?
With weeks on end of whack-a-mole quarantine measures introduced at short notice for countries with travel corridors, staycations had begun to seem like the safest option for many and self-catering bookings in Britain had boomed. But when the 'rule of six' measures came into force on September 14, the upcoming holiday plans of any group larger than six became illegal. Cue the cancellations flooding in. “The rule of six is causing carnage across UK self-catering, bookings are collapsing,” says Alistair Handyside, chair of the Professional Association of Self-Caterers (PASC). An added element of confusion is the fact that the interpretation of this rule differs between England, Scotland and Wales. In England the total head count includes children of any age, but in Scotland children under 12 are not included and in Wales children under 11 are not included. And, taking into account many bookings in self-catering are made up of larger groups, it's hardly surprising that data from a leading agent shows that 41 per cent of people have cancelled their self-catering holidays and 15 per cent have amended their booking. Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, self-catering business owners and travel professionals all over Britain have explained what six more months of the 'rule of six' could mean for them.
The UK’s bars have once again been rocked by news of heightened restrictions, with the Government announcing yesterday (September 22) that all pubs, bars and restaurants in England must close at 10pm from Thursday.
Chris Logan, managing director of the UK’s leading ski operator Crystal Ski Holidays, shares his thoughts on what will get ski holidays back on track this winter
The Welsh First Minister has advised against unnecessary journeys, while a quarter of the population is under local lockdown
“It’s Dubrovnik as it should be – and as it once was.” Before I’d been in the city for an hour, I had heard this refrain numerous times from people. The old town’s elegant main thoroughfare, Stradun – usually a sweaty sea of humanity and selfie sticks – had only a few dozen people strolling on its shiny marble slabs in the hot August sun. Apart from an out-of-season visit I made one November, I’d never seen the city so empty. No cruise ships, and no coachloads of day-trippers.
California-based cruise operator, Princess Cruises, has announced the sale of two of its ships, Sun Princess and Sea Princess, to undisclosed buyers.
It is distressing to watch our leaders pursue a policy of travel lockdown by stealth without, it would appear, any consideration as to how the travel industry is expected to survive the fallout from all the flip-flopping.
One of the UK’s leading laboratories offering Covid-19 tests says it can no longer prioritise tests for leisure travel, due to demand outstripping capacity. In recent weeks, the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity has been stretched as students return to school and positive cases continue to rise. Yesterday, the UK recorded 4,926 cases – the highest tally since May. Meanwhile, an increasing number of countries, such as Cyprus and Barbados, are demanding evidence of a negative PCR test for entry, but now holidaymakers could face disappointment as labs sideline testing for leisure travel. “Covid-19 PCR testing has significantly increased in recent weeks in line with increasing infection rates and hospital admissions, and as a result testing is now outstripping laboratory capacity,” a spokesperson from the Doctor’s Laboratory, the largest independent provider of clinical laboratory diagnostic services in the UK, told Telegraph Travel. “Priority is therefore being given to clinical and work-related testing.” The revelation that demand is outstripping capacity will be worrying news for holidaymakers with holidays booked to destinations demanding a PCR test on arrival. Of the countries that UK nationals can visit, Cyprus asks for evidence of a negative test on arrival, as do the popular Caribbean winter sun destinations of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Most destinations require that the test is taken a maximum of 72 hours before arrival, while some are more lenient – St Lucia requires a negative test taken up to seven days before arrival. If there is a national shortage of PCR tests for leisure travel, holidaymakers could see prices go up, and may struggle to get a guaranteed test during busier periods around October half term, Christmas and New Year. C19 Testing, a clinic which offers Covid-19 PCR tests for holidaymakers, has today updated its website to say: “Due to the approaching second coronavirus wave and the national pressures on testing we are not currently offering our PCR Test Travel Service to new customers. “Of course, we continue to support our existing travel customers with the great service they need to travel in these challenging times. “We will continue to provide high-quality coronavirus PCR testing to new customers but pressures on testing mean we cannot provide the guaranteed turnaround times you may require for travel.” A spokesperson for another clinic, CityDoc, told Telegraph Travel that, while they endeavour to offer results within 48 to 72 hours, this is becoming more difficult as testing demand rises across the UK. “We are unable to give guarantees due to the recent rise in Covid testing putting huge pressure on laboratories across the UK,” the spokesperson said. Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy the PC Agency, told Telegraph Travel: “This is a worrying development as a lack of testing infrastructure is affecting recovery in the travel sector, and preventing visitors coming to the UK. “If tests can’t be carried out, due to a lack of facilities, then it will reduce future demand as consumers without negative Covid certificates won’t be able to travel to as many destinations. “I’d urge the Government to outline a clear testing strategy, and private firms to invest much more, so that testing capacity fits a living-with-Covid era and enables more people to travel safely and responsibly.” If a holidaymaker arrives at an airport without a negative PCR result, when this is required by their destination, they may be denied boarding. Some, but not all, travel insurance companies now account for this eventuality in their Covid cover. Post Office insurance, for example, says you will be covered if you miss departure due to a delayed Covid-19 test result. This is only available on their premium and standard cover packages. PCR tests returning results within 48 hours tend to cost around £150, with steep rises for shorter time frames. Testing is increasingly seen as the way of unlocking the travel industry. Telegraph Travel has launched a campaign, Test4Travel, urging the Government to roll out affordable Covid-19 tests on arrivals at all UK airports and ports by Christmas. Exclusive survey data compiled for Telegraph Travel by travel consultancy The PC Agency and independent market research company AudienceNet, polling 2,139 respondents, shows that 62 per cent of the population supports a test on arrivals in the UK over the current 14-day quarantine, and more than half would be willing to cover the costs of a test. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow Airport’s chief executive, told the Telegraph: “Testing is the lifeline that the UK’s aviation sector needs to get back on its feet. We’ve put some of the most cutting-edge rapid testing technologies into action at Heathrow to see which offers the best solution. “If we can find a test that is accurate, gets a result within a matter of minutes, is cost-effective and gets the Government green light, we could have the potential to introduce wide-scale testing at the airport. “Without this, our first-class aviation sector risks becoming second class, giving Britain’s competitive advantage to others.”
It is one of Australia’s most beautiful locations, a remote, jungle-draped island ringed by empty beaches and virgin reefs, and home to a crab phenomena that astonished Sir David Attenborough. Yet very few tourists visit Christmas Island, a mysterious place with a dark history which is home to just 1,800 people and is so isolated it costs £600 to fly to from the Australian mainland.