The negative environmental impacts of tourism are never out of the news. Cruise ships, overtourism and the emissions of aeroplanes are routinely denounced, albeit more often by pundits than scientists. Ecotourism initiatives have sought to counter this, providing sustainable accommodation and low-carbon experiences in the world’s vulnerable wildernesses. When global tourism ground to a skidding halt in March 2020, what happened in the world’s wild places? At first, there was optimism: dolphins were seen further up the Bosphorus, pumas roamed around Santiago de Chile, and in Thailand there was hope that threatened dugongs might have a population boon in the absence of tourists. A year without humans might actually be good for animals. But barring international tourism – especially the long-haul travel that takes people from wealthy countries to developing ones – removes income from safari parks and nature reserves and deprives local guides, drivers, cooks and employees at lodges and tented camps of their wages. It also removes witnesses – armed with cameras – from remote, pristine areas. In September, conservation group Oceana reported an armada of Chinese fishing vessels in the protected waters around the Galapagos Islands. In Brazil, illegal loggers, poachers and arsonists employed by soya-growers and ranchers have taken advantage of an entire season without tourists. According to Greenpeace, president Bolsonaro used “the shock of coronavirus… to push the expansion of industrial farming in the Amazon.” But it is in sub-Saharan Africa – the planet’s last true wildlife haven and ecotourism hotspot – that the absence of travellers and hard currency have been most devastating.
There’ll be no Christmas cheer for pubs stuck in tier 3A community-focused Ramsbottom pub that trains marginalised young people slams the ‘inept system’ that is forcing tens of thousands of hospitality venues to remain closed
With tier rule confusion and Covid induced exhaustion, holidaying near to home delivers maximum enjoyment and minimum stress
A ban on skiing in Europe would deprive skiers of the essential medicine only a trip to the slopes can provide
Whether celebrating a Covid-restricted Christmas with three of your family households sounds appealing or not, at least we now know that there is an alternative. The end of lockdown travel restrictions on Wednesday means that it is perfectly feasible to escape Christmas at home altogether. While the options are, obviously, much more limited than usual, if you like the idea of Christmas collapsed on a sun-soaked beach, cocktail in hand, rather than on the sitting-room sofa, there is a good range of destinations to choose from on the official travel corridor list, which means you won’t have to self-isolate – even for five days with testing – on your return. We’ve picked 20 of the best holidays – all from different tour operators – which are still available over Christmas. With the temporarily eased restrictions on meetings set to end on Dec 27, there are also some possibilities for a more uplifting way to see in the new year. The Canary Islands, which offer the most convenient guarantee of warm and generally sunny weather, are well represented. The options range from mainstream family resorts on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, to luxury in Tenerife and a hideaway break on La Gomera. The Caribbean is also a tempting choice, with very low rates of Covid-19 on most islands. And although the Indian Ocean resorts in the Seychelles and Maldives may involve a longer flight, they offer some delicious escapism. In summary, considering we are less than a month away from Christmas Day, there is unprecedented availability and prices are looking pretty competitive compared with a normal Christmas. Several operators were claiming that their rates are substantially discounted, but we only flag this up when there’s a time limit on booking at that price, as it’s hard to make meaningful comparisons in such extraordinary times. However, the good value may not last. The pinch point is likely to be flights: if more and more people start to book, fares will certainly rise. But as we went to press it was possible to buy BA fares from London to Barbados for less than £600 return (travelling from Dec 21-27), which is extraordinarily cheap for the time of year. It’s not generally advisable to buy your airfare and accommodation separately, as you have less protection. Booking a package that includes your flight and hotel, as in all the examples below, gives you automatic protection in the event of financial failures, and also if you have to cancel for Covid-related reasons. Do check before booking, however, that you are happy with the tour operator’s policies on cancellations, postponements and refunds. (It’s worth noting that, although the new test-on-arrival rules that come into force on Dec 15 mean you can reduce your quarantine when arriving from destinations outside the corridors, tour operators are not offering packages to these places because the Foreign Office still advises against all but essential travel.) It’s also vital to remember that, in many destinations there are health protocols to consider. For long-haul breaks, you will need to check what standard vaccinations you need before travelling and you will often need to provide evidence of a recent negative test for Covid-19. In some places, such as Barbados, for example, you may have to have a “self-quarantine” for a few days until a second test shows negative. This quarantine is usually mitigated by the fact that you can enjoy your isolation in the resort you are staying in and for those who are just looking for a few days on the beach, it won’t be a problem, but do make sure you are happy with the details of the restrictions before booking. And once you’ve jumped through the hoops, you can look forward to a cracker of a Christmas whether lolling on a poolside lounger, strolling on white-sand beaches or striding out along spectacular coastal trails. It may be a far cry from the turkey and tinsel but what’s lacking in traditional festivity will be made up for by the chance of some much-needed escapism in glorious winter sunshine. Merry in the Maldives It will be hot and it will be quiet but if you like the idea of being a Christmas castaway and don’t mind a long flight, then head for one of the Maldive atolls. Travelbag (travelbag.co.uk) offers all-inclusive stays at five-star Pullman Maldives Maamutaa from £3,299 with two excursions including a sunset cruise or fishing trip. There’s a complimentary upgrade to an ocean pool villa applied to bookings made by December 5. Departs: December 19 Flight time: 11h 30m Heat: 30ºC
The Inca king pointed the way, his gilded arm gesturing north-west from atop the fountain in Cusco’s Plaza des Armas; this was the bearing I’d follow from the navel of the world to the terraces of Machu Picchu. Unusually, my Inca Trail began right here, in the city square, weaving new routes from old ways. The Inca created around 18,640 miles of pathways during their brief tenure as overlords of South America. The 26 miles leading to Machu Picchu – the classic Inca Trail – receives most of the attention. But I was tackling a new trek, using alternative routes (and a few road transfers) to connect Cusco and the fabled lost city. Andres Adasme, Mountain Lodges of Peru’s head of adventure, masterminded the “Black Diamond” route. “Twenty-five per cent of the route is on lightly used trails, 25 per cent is on little-used trails, and 50 per cent is absolutely off the beaten path,” he told me. I was sold. So, in a small group led by guide Guido, we began walking from Cusco. The route has its downsides – in that, it’s all up, and quickly (pre-acclimatisation is essential). Climbing past the gargantuan stones of Sacsayhuaman fortress, through rural green into spiky ichu grass, we were soon at a 14,000ft pass, being battered by hail to boot. But it was thrilling to leave the city on foot, following tourist-less footpaths to end at a private camp on Piuray Lake, drying our boots by the fire, watching the stars appear over the mountains. This was one of our wilder nights. The 10-day adventure would include a few sleeps under canvas, offset by more luxurious lodge stays.
The winners of the Historic Photographer of the Year Awards 2020 have been announced. The Awards typically call on photographers to go out and capture historic places and cultural sites across the globe. However, due to the pandemic, the judges this year asked photographers to scour their personal archives for their most impressive shots. The winning photograph was awarded to Michael Marsh for his capture of the Grade-II-listed Brighton Palace Pier, while the Historic England award went to Adam Burton for his aerial view of St Michael’s Church on Somerset’s Burrow Mump. New to this year's awards, the Where History Happened award went to Martin Chamberlain, for his sombre shot of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, captured prior to the destruction wrought by the Middle Eastern country’s civil war. Commenting on the awards, judge Dan Snow said: “Historic Photographer of the Year shines a light on the fascinating beauty of the world’s historical sites. These cultural monuments stand as testament to the incredible stories that took place all around us. “The call for photographers to comb through their archives saw everything from abandoned urban landscapes and utterly transporting shots of the world's greatest cultural locations to Arthurian captures of historical wonders cloaked in other-worldly mists.” Check out the winning shots, below.
European leaders are struggling to reach a coordinated agreement on whether to keep their ski resorts shut or to reopen for business over the winter season.
Why a plate of arancini means our summer in Sicily has begun – plus the recipeWhen the ferry docks in Palermo, the food writer heads straight to a waterside bar to devour these delicious deep-fried rice balls
Why stifado is ‘the best food in Greece’ – plus the recipeThis rabbit stew is a big fat Greek classic with many variations, none more memorable than on a summer evening on an Ionian island
Scotland’s ski resorts in limbo with potential bumper season looming. Highland resorts introduce Covid-safety measures in readiness for skiers missing usual trips to the Alps, but local restrictions mean they cannot cash in
Throughout the pandemic, Sweden has stood firm as the only country in Europe not to undergo a national lockdown, attracting admiration and dismay from other nations in equal measure. Since entering the second wave, however, a handful of others appear to have taken a leaf out of its book and opted not to close down society at-large, regardless of rising Covid-19 infection rates. Let’s examine their strategies. Switzerland Switzerland has gone its own way in a number of ways in regards to the pandemic; most recently refusing to enter a second national lockdown. It did implement one in spring, but was also one of the first countries in Europe to lift it. Switzerland’s strategy was to intervene early with generous support for the economy in hopes of cushioning the blow that was to come. Alongside Germany, it was one of the first countries to introduce a short-time working scheme to protect jobs, with 30 per cent of Swiss workers having their wages propped up by the state. Additionally, the landlocked country’s pledge to fully underwrite bank loans to smaller firms provided crucial funding and was eventually copied by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Then, in April, along with Austria, Switzerland was the first to reopen bars and restaurants and get society back to a state of near-normalcy. While it got away relatively unscathered in the spring and summer, the second wave hit hard in autumn. Switzerland has, of late, experienced a substantial spike in Covid-19 infections. In the seven days leading up to November 20, its Federal Office of Public Health reported 615 deaths, making it the most deadly week of the pandemic.
Living on a stunning Cyclades Island, in a sugar cube house with sweeping views of the Aegean Sea, was a dream come true for novelist David Young from Twickenham, when he settled on the Greek island of Syros several years ago. Like thousands of second-home owners in Greece – and elsewhere in Europe – however, David’s dream could turn into a nightmare on January 1, 2021 when Schengen rules, limiting the amount of time he can spend in his foreign bolthole, come into force. “Like me, many Brits divide their lives between two countries, but after Brexit – unless they apply for full residency in the EU country where they’ve bought their property, pay taxes there, and lose their NHS provision back home – second-home owners will be limited to stays of a maximum of 90 days,” says David, who set up Facebook group 180 Days in Greece to help fellow Britons affected by the new regulations. With no flexibility for family illness, vital property maintenance or other emergencies, the 90/180 rule could also create major practical problems for second-home owners. In 2014, Stephen and Rosemary Moy from Kirstead near Norwich, spent £200,000 to have a house built on the island of Antiparos, where actor Tom Hanks has a second home. “We have caring responsibilities for our elderly parents who are now in their nineties, so we can only be away for a certain amount of time each year. We usually travel out to Greece twice a year – via France, Switzerland and Italy – in our campervan but the journey takes us about eight days each way, which means that after Brexit we could only spend about eight weeks per year in our property,” they say. Margaret Hibbit from Kidderminster, who bought and renovated a small stone house on the island of Crete in 1997, is also worried about the new visa rules. “Since my husband’s death I no longer live there full time, but I visit at least three times a year. Not being able to return for three months after spending 90 days in Crete causes great concern over maintaining my property, paying my bills and keeping it in good repair.”
The Isles of Scilly are about to have a bit of a moment. This low-lying archipelago flung off the coast of Cornwall is one of the few places due to be under the Government’s tier 1 coronavirus restrictions from December 2. This means pints with friends indoors without food – the luxury! – will be allowed on the five sparsely populated islands, and revellers can even stay out past 10pm.
UK holiday providers are asking thousands of customers to cancel or amend their bookings ahead of the stricter new tier system that comes into force in England when lockdown ends on December 2. More than 23 million people in England will be living under Tier 3 restrictions from next week, with the tiers reviewed every fortnight. Accommodation providers in Tier 3 regions must close, whole those living in these areas are urged to "avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays, other than where necessary." However, bed and breakfasts, campsites and hotels in Tiers 1 and 2 can open for leisure bookings. Restrictions will be paused over the festive period (December 23-27), allowing Christmas "bubbles" to stay together in private rented accommodation over those five days. People who live in Tier 3 areas of England, level 3 or higher areas of Scotland, or who had planned a stay in Wales but live elsewhere in the UK, have been contacted by glamping holiday specialist Canopy & Stars, which has informed them that bookings before December 16 cannot go ahead. National Trust Holidays and Holidaycottages.co.uk are also telling future guests that their bookings will not be honoured if they live in one of the highest risk areas. Can I go on holiday after lockdown? What the new tier system means for getaways An email sent from Canopy & Stars to its customers reads: "If you live in a Tier 3 area (or Tier 3, 4 or 5 in Scotland) you will no longer be able to go on your Canopy & Stars holiday. You will need to inform us if you do live in a restricted area by [December 1] and our team will be able to move your booking." A spokesperson for the company told Telegraph Travel: "For any guests unable to travel due to a government health measure, either Tier 3, Welsh/Scottish restrictions or a positive Covid-19 test/being asked to self-isolate by Test & Trace, we are offering to change their date, or in cases where that is not possible, we can look to refund. "Essentially, we’re not cancelling bookings until we have spoken to guests, we are contacting all guests to inform them of the situation and to advise them to check the restrictions." National Trust Holidays is taking a similar approach. "[We] will be contacting all guests with bookings in December to discuss their options," said a spokesperson. "Customers living in Tier 3 locations or planning to stay in Tier 3 locations are being contacted as a priority. In line with government guidance, holidays taken by people in Tier 3 will have to be postponed or cancelled. In addition, holidays due to take place in tier three locations will have to be postponed or cancelled." This also applies to future guests of National Trust Holidays from Scotland or Wales who are affected by advisories against travel. "Where there are restrictions in place we are proactively getting in touch with our guests, we are considering both the location of their holiday and their place of residence,” its spokesperson told Telegraph Travel. Meanwhile, Holidaycottages.co.uk, which offers self-catering properties throughout the UK, said: "All customers travelling from or to a Tier 3 area in England, or 3 or higher in Scotland, have been contacted and informed that their booking cannot go ahead." It explained that all affected guests have been given the option to move their booking, to receive a voucher for the amount they have paid or to get a full refund. A spokesperson added: "Holidaycottages.co.uk is not accepting any new bookings in properties under these restrictions before the Government’s planned review dates and will review its position in line with further government announcements."
Mid-morning is a busy time at Ca’n Joan de S’aigo. Hidden on a backstreet in the labyrinthine Old Town, this coffee house has been a Palma institution since it opened in 1700. Though it must have been renovated somewhere in its 320 year history, its dark-wood furniture, tiled floors and antiques are unwaveringly traditional. Patrons are sipping hot chocolate and eating home-made ice cream and ensaïmadas: the coiled, sugar-dusted pastries so emblematic of Mallorca. The only thing missing is the usual queue of people waiting outside; otherwise it’s business as normal. And in this anything-but-normal year, that in itself is exceptional. Unlike in lockdown London, cafés such as this (along with museums, shops, bars, restaurants and gyms) are open all over Palma. The Old Town’s traffic-free streets still have plenty of footfall, but they're unquestionably quieter because there are very few tourists. According to the Fomento del Turismo (the island’s tourism board) some 70 per cent of Mallorca's visitors come from Britain and Germany, whose governments both imposed quarantine restrictions on travellers returning from Spain back in August. Those restrictions remain (despite coronavirus infections now being far lower here) and the subsequent lockdowns in Britain and Germany have only compounded the problem. It's a far cry from 2018, when protesters took to the airport and beaches to highlight "overtourism". The tourist crowds at which they railed are now a distant memory and mass-market travel will likely take years to recover. But Palma is well-placed to shrug off the downturn. Lying within a two-hour flight and a 10-minute drive from the airport, it’s filled with history, shopping, cultural attractions and lots of boutique hotels: all the essential elements for convenient, cosmopolitan city breaks. For the moment though, there's not enough business to sustain all of Palma's boutique boltholes.
Convenient fuss-free French thrills The largest of five French resorts in the Grand Massif ski area, Flaine offers family-friendly convenience, with pretty tree-lined runs and traditional villages just a few minutes away. The 265km ski area suits all abilities from beginner to expert and snow reliability is good, with 80 per cent of pistes facing north and a fair amount of snowmaking. Flaine was born in 1969, when big concrete blocks of apartments were considered stylish, even in the mountains. These original blocks designed in the 1960s still form the core of the resort village and have the big advantage of mainly ski-in/ski-out convenience. Liking the architecture is a matter of taste – many find it ugly, but some admire its Bauhaus heritage and the outdoor sculptures by Picasso, Vasarely and Dubuffet.
Feasts and holy days in the Kazakhstan desertSometimes the most interesting cooking is found in the most unlikely places, as our writer discovers on a road trip in the country’s vast wild west
SINGAPORE - ScootHub launches an inflight portal where fliers can access the full range of services previously enjoyed from flying, minus the multiple surfaces they might come in contact with.
People in England have been left with just three relatively restriction-free staycation options this winter, with Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly the only regions placed in Tier 1. Classed as ‘medium risk’, hotels, B&Bs; and campsites will be permitted to reopen, and households will be allowed to mix – provided they comply with the rule of six, when national lockdown is lifted on December 2. All bars and restaurants will also be given the green light to resume trade, with the daily curfew extended to permit last orders at 10pm, and closure at 11pm. People will need to observe the rule of six whether indoors or outdoors at a pub. Whether visitors from other tiers will be welcomed with open arms is another matter. Earlier this week the chief executive for Visit Cornwall, Malcolm Bell, urged visitors and residents alike to exercise caution over the Christmas period in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the county. “We didn’t have the feared spike after the summer but Christmas will be more challenging,” he told Cornwall Live. “People over the summer were more likely to go for outdoor walks, and may do so again, but over Christmas people tend to stay within their families more. “To help keep Cornwall safe, people visiting need to enjoy Cornwall within their bubbles and when they go out for a walk to go back to where they are staying where possible.” London and Liverpool have both been placed in Tier 2, which allows businesses – with the exception of pubs that don’t serve food – to reopen, but restricts indoor gatherings to household bubbles. Different households can meet outdoors, although the rule of six still applies.
Back to Binna Burra: like a phoenix, the beloved bush lodge has risen from the ashesThe heritage-listed central lodge was destroyed in the 2019 bushfires but there are still plenty of verdant trails and places to rest after a long day’s hike
Following the announcement of the revised tier system in England, many hotels in Tier 1 and 2 across the country are preparing to reopen from next week. While the majority of hotels have had to go through the process of shuttering up and reopening at least once before, the fact that significantly more areas are now in Tier 3 presents a greater challenge with regard to operating safely. Much of the north of the country, for instance is in Tier 3 - but the Lake District, a popular tourist destination, is in Tier 2. Those in Tier 3 destinations are being advised not to travel outside their areas (and hotels in those areas are ordered to close unless for essential purposes). People in Tiers 1 and 2 are allowed to travel, and hotels in both tiers are open, though the advice is to minimise journeys. More guidance around this is due on Monday, but we asked hoteliers how they plan to approach the issue (or not). What the revised tier rules mean for hotel stays in Britain How will hotels check where their guests are travelling from? Claudia Waddams, the owner of Number One Bruton, an eight-bedroom boutique hotel and restaurant in Bruton, Somerset (in Tier 2), puts it succinctly. “a) TRUST - this is our first line of defence - we are trusting that guests that may have booked from a Tier 3 area will cancel their bookings (we have just had a telephone call from a guest in Bristol who asked if he could keep his booking and we said no - he was very understanding). “b) OUR BOOKING ENGINE - when our guests book online/over the telephone they have to put in an address - we are already checking this and will get in touch with anyone who is in a Tier 3 area and ask that they cancel their booking. “c) If guests choose to lie, pull the wool over our eyes and come anyway, then we will be relying on the strict health and safety procedures that we already have in place to protect us/our staff/other guests. This means: no one is allowed to use the sitting room, face coverings have to be worn in all public spaces (including corridors), rooms are cleaned with a steri-7 mist system that disinfects the room for 72 hours, windows and doors open to let a draft through, extra cleaning, hand sanitiser etc. We have been doing this since July so we are well practised now! “In terms of breakfast - all of our tables are all socially distanced and breakfast is presented to our guests in a basket. “d) The hotel is small [...] I can see that we do not have any guests from more than one household coming to stay over the next month… on the whole we have noticed that our guests are pretty conscientious we haven't had to ask people to adhere to the rules because they seem to do it naturally.” Trust is a common theme. Susan Stuart, owner of boutique hotel Chapel House Penzance, Cornwall (Tier 1) told The Telegraph: “We will be asking guests about which Tier they are coming from, as we need to safeguard staff and guests alike [...] we hope guests will use common sense when deciding whether it is appropriate to travel.”