Summer holidays abroad will be ‘lost’, warns travel industry



a view of a beach next to a body of water: Shapp said that 'we’ll need to wait for other countries to catch up' on vaccinations - GETTY


© GETTY
Shapp said that ‘we’ll need to wait for other countries to catch up’ on vaccinations – GETTY

Travel industry leaders have spoken out in warning that summer holidays will be ‘lost’ again this year, if ministers prohibit international leisure travel until the entire population is vaccinated. 

This morning, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested that international leisure travel may not be permitted until autumn 2021, the deadline by which the Government aims to have offered the vaccine to every UK citizen. 

A spokesperson from ABTA – The Travel Association, told Telegraph Travel: “If we wait for the full rollout of the vaccination programme in the UK before people start to travel overseas, we’ll lose another summer season to the pandemic – something the travel industry can’t afford.

“We need a reopening strategy that keeps up with the developing medical situation and with medical understanding, and considers the role of optional vaccine certificates and testing together to open up travel.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast today, Shapps was asked what next steps would need to be completed for Britons to be permitted to take holidays again. “First of all, everybody having their vaccinations,” the Transport Secretary responded. 

Presenter Louise Minchin asked: “Until that’s done, these restrictions won’t be lifted?”

“Yes,” Shapps replied. “We’ll need to wait for other countries to catch up as well, in order to do that wider international unlock,” he added.

Scroll down for more of today’s travel news.

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02:50 PM

10-year prison sentence threat is ‘psychotic’

Another senior Tory has blasted the “psychotic” decision to introduce a 10-year sentencing for people who lie about which countries they have visited. 

A former minister said: “Ten years? You get less for rape. It’s designed to make them sound tough because they have done f— all on this for months… you could kill someone behind the wheel of your car and get less. 

“It’s government by focus group and soundbite.”

Earlier today Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, suggested the sentence wouldn’t ever be imposed by the courts, but still he urged MPs to “pay attention” to the potential abuses of emergency powers. 

02:42 PM

Britain’s best country house hotels for a glorious spring break 

Hotel expert Fiona Duncan has the very best of country house hotels to give some inspiration to plan a ‘staycation’ this spring, Somerset to Surrey, Cotswolds to the Lake District, Wales to Scotland.

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet.

Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. 



a body of water surrounded by trees: Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds


© Provided by The Telegraph
Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds

You’ll find the full list here.

02:31 PM

Demand for travel leads to bookings boost

Riviera Travel has told Telegraph Travel that it enjoyed its best day of bookings since spring  last year on Monday.

The river cruise and tour operator saw booking numbers almost double month-on-month, and hit their highest level since April 2020. River cruise accounted for six in ten calls, with the Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets trip, which sets sail in December this year, and 2022’s Douro, Porto and Salamanca voyage among the most popular itineraries.

Stuart Milan, Riviera Travel channel director, said:

We’re particularly encouraged by this increasing demand, and it’s great to see Riviera being the go-to choice for holidaymakers who have decided to give themselves a well-deserved break. We currently have a flexible booking promise in place to ensure anyone who books up, either for this year or next, can feel confident to do so.

02:20 PM

Will all cruise holidays require proof of vaccination?

Next month will mark a year since the global cruise industry shuddered to a halt as coronavirus spread. Despite some hope that holidays at sea would return in a meaningful way, ships remain largely free from passengers, with only river cruising in Europe mounting a significant comeback in 2020.

In January, Saga Cruises announced that any customer booked to travel must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days before departure. This was a first from a UK cruise line.

But will more follow suit? Benjamin Parker investigates.

02:03 PM

Inside a (potential) quarantine hotel

The Government is yet to release the list of official quarantine hotels – but The St Giles Hotel, near Heathrow, has revealed how it prepares to host self-isolating guests.

Firstly, a temperature check on all arrivals:



a flat screen television: AFP


© Provided by The Telegraph
AFP

Door seals on every room:



a sign on a wooden surface: door - AFP


© Provided by The Telegraph
door – AFP

 Towels sealed in plastic bags:



towels - AFP


© Provided by The Telegraph
towels – AFP

The highlight of your stay? Tea and coffee facilities, with a ‘Covid-safe’ twist:



a young boy sitting at a table: tea - AFP


© Provided by The Telegraph
tea – AFP

01:47 PM

The cost of travel to a ‘red-list’ country right now? 

Four tests, warzone insurance, hotel quarantine, a potential prison term – we added up the cost of an essential trip to a red-listed country…

£1,946, minimum.

If you have to travel for a necessary reason, Greg Dickinson has your budget break-down.

01:30 PM

‘If we wait for the full rollout of vaccinations, we’ll lose another summer’

ABTA – The Travel Association has warned that not restarting international travel before the completion of the UK’s vaccination programme will see the ‘loss’ of the summer season.

A spokesperson told Telegraph Travel this afternoon:

If we wait for the full rollout of the vaccination programme in the UK before people start to travel overseas, we’ll lose another summer season to the pandemic – something the travel industry can’t afford.

We need a reopening strategy that keeps up with the developing medical situation and with medical understanding, and considers the role of optional vaccine certificates and testing together to open up travel. 

You can book a summer holiday now with confidence by booking a package holiday through an ABTA Member, and many travel companies are also offering additional flexibility to take into account the uncertainty created by the pandemic. 

01:22 PM

Thailand’s tuk tuks sit idle

A glimpse of a grounded Bangkok, now – where public transport vehicles sit idle, in the absence of any tourist trade.

The city’s famous tuk tuks:



Bangkok tuk tuks - Reuters


© Reuters
Bangkok tuk tuks – Reuters

And scores of sightseeing buses – once packed with tourists, but now abandoned on a downtown parking lot:



a circuit board: Bangkok buses - Reuters


© Provided by The Telegraph
Bangkok buses – Reuters

01:06 PM

Low-budget travel: another casualty of Covid?

From Monday, any traveller entering Britain must take three Covid-19 tests – a ‘triple lock’ regime that applies to arrivals from all countries.

But while stricter testing requirements have been largely welcomed by the travel industry, there are concerns that – should the policy remain in place long-term – budget-conscious holidaymakers will be ‘priced out’ by the rules. 

With an average cost of £100 per test, many families and young people will be unable to travel, warns Sam Willan, General Manager of StudentUniverse UK:

Adding a £300 cost will mean that intentional travel will be out of reach for many young people, who will no longer be able to afford to travel. Young peoples’ travel experiences tend to involve education and culture, which proves hugely valuable to both individuals and our society as a whole.

This regime seems to contradict the Government’s newly updated International Education Strategy, which aims to grow the international student cohort and provides funding to support disadvantaged students. The Government clearly recognises the value of young travellers, yet the new testing requirements just put the financial barrier straight back up.

The international student & youth travel market alone is worth over £25bn each year in the UK – demonstrating huge value to the overall travel industry, and a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to aiding the eventual recovery of the UK’s economy.

12:52 PM

I’ve been vaccinated – so where can I go on holiday this summer?



a herd of cows in a body of water: The Seychelles is also among the destinations reopening to vaccinated travellers - Getty


© Getty
The Seychelles is also among the destinations reopening to vaccinated travellers – Getty


SpainGreeceRomania and the Seychelles are among the destinations which already suggested that their doors will be open to tourists who have received an injection, when international travel returns once again. But where to go with any newly recovered freedom?

Nick Trend has the answer.

12:47 PM

A skier’s secret: The untapped ski destination in Uzbekistan with snow ‘unlike anything else’

Uzbekistan is not the first country that springs to mind when planning a ski trip, but, following the debut of the resort of Amirsoy in the Western Tian Shan mountains last season, it should be all eyes east for the new ski frontier once international travel is back on the cards. 

In what is surely one of the world’s most ambitiously paced mountain developments, Tashkent businessman Rashvan Abdullaev has single-handedly financed and created a state-of-the-art ski resort from scratch in just three years. 

For the 2019/20 ski season a two-stage, eight-person gondola and a four-seater chairlift were in place, servicing 15km of piste. The plan is to build up to 14 lifts, and extend the existing 2,224 acre ski area by 12,335 acres, and the pistes to 140km.

Read the full story.

12:31 PM

Travel bans won’t stop NASA’s quest for supersonic passenger planes

It may feel like a flight of fancy right now, but NASA is pushing forward with its plans to develop the world’s fastest passenger plane.

The agency has announced a partnership with supersonic aviation specialist Aerion, with the aim of developing a plane that can connect any two points on the planet within three hours.



a plane flying over a snow covered mountain: Artist's impression of the AS2 supersonic business jet - Getty


© Getty
Artist’s impression of the AS2 supersonic business jet – Getty

The development of the AS2 supersonic business jet – pictured above – constitutes the first part of the project, to be followed by the AS3 passenger jet.

Designed to be environmentally responsible from first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic aircraft designed to be powered by 100% engineered synthetic fuel and reach supersonic speeds without the need for an afterburner.

12:18 PM

The secret piece of Venice, hidden in a Clapham council estate



a large brick building with grass and trees: A Georgian beauty – in the heart of a London council estate - Greg Dickinson


© Greg Dickinson
A Georgian beauty – in the heart of a London council estate – Greg Dickinson


Your daily local walk still has the power to surprise, writes Greg Dickinson

There is something unique about the Notre Dame estate. Standing incongruous as anything, bordered by the estate’s brown-bricked blocks, there is a perfectly symmetrical, opal white Georgian edifice.

So out of place is this grand old orangery, that it feels like it was pinched by a giant from the flanks of Venice’s Grand Canal and dropped here at random. But the true origins of the building shed light on Clapham’s abolitionist history, and explain where the estate gets its continental moniker.

Read all about it – and tell us about your own lockdown discoveries.

12:05 PM

Scotland’s hotel quarantine system: what we know so far

From February 15, all international arrivals into Scotland will need to undergo their ten-day quarantine in a Government designated hotel – not just those coming from a ‘red list’ country. 

Six hotels close to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have been contracted to serve as quarantine facilities, Telegraph Travel understands. This equates to a total of 1,300 rooms.

The cost to passengers will be £1,750 per solo traveller, likely with a lower tariff for all additional adults and children staying in the same room – though exact prices are yet to be confirmed.



graphical user interface, website: Hotels near Edinburgh Airport have been contracted to serve as quarantine facilities - Getty


© Getty
Hotels near Edinburgh Airport have been contracted to serve as quarantine facilities – Getty

Scotland’s transport secretary Michael Matheson said: “To manage the risk of importing new variants, and to give vaccine deployment the best chance of bringing us closer to normality here in Scotland, we have to place further limits on international travel.

“The UK government has only committed to adopting this for travellers returning from ‘red list’ countries. However, we know that is not sufficient and we will go further.

“The clinical advice is clear that a comprehensive system of managed quarantine is essential to minimise the impact of new Covid-19 variants.”

11:51 AM

Club Med: Ski bookings already surging for next year 

The chances of taking a ski holiday this winter are extremely slim – but hopes for next winter are high, as operators report record early bookings.

All-inclusive specialists Club Med have announced that next season (2021/22) could be the brand’s most successful to date, following a surge in bookings on the first day of sales on Monday.

Within just 24 hours of the season opening for bookings, sales are up 133 per cent year on year.



a group of people riding skis on top of a snow covered slope: The ski slopes of Spain's Sierra Nevada are quiet this week - Getty


© Getty
The ski slopes of Spain’s Sierra Nevada are quiet this week – Getty

According to Club Med, skiers are spending more on their holiday than previously, with the average order value up by over half. ‘Peak’ weeks, including February half term (2022) and Christmas (2021) are proving to be the most popular times to travel.

“The winter 21/22 season is set to be one like no other, with the last two winter seasons heavily disrupted, we are anticipating an unprecedented demand for winter sports trips as well as winter sun escapes this season,” said Estelle Giraudeau, managing director of Club Med UK and Northern Europe.

Club Med’s opening sale promises 15 per cent off all ski holidays, to all resorts on all dates, if booked by tomorrow (February 11). A week’s stay at the brand’s new and first opening in Canada, Québec Charlevoix, costs from £1,029 per adult, saving £181 each, departing April 2 2020, excluding travel.

11:41 AM

‘We will have to close borders permanently’ 

Telegraph readers have been sharing their thoughts on the maximum 10-year prison sentence for breaking quarantine rules – and it’s proving to be a very divisive subject.

Reader Clive Chopping weighs in on the topic:

What astounds me is that we have this policy at all. Mutations will continue indefinitely and there’s nothing the government can do that will stop that or prevent them evading our defences.

The end logic of this policy is that we will be shutting our borders permanently.

What do you think?

11:20 AM

Budget Britain: 30 of the best affordable breaks to book for summer



a large body of water: Book a summertime trip to the Isle of Wight – from £85 per night - Getty


© Getty
Book a summertime trip to the Isle of Wight – from £85 per night – Getty


Holidays on home soil are likely to be the first we can take this year. Alas, travelling around Britain isn’t always cheap – but there are ways you can keep the cost down.

From no-frills camping to affordable luxury, see our pick of the best escapes that don’t break the bank. Because booking a holiday is not illegal – and when we can travel again, you deserve a brilliant holiday.

Start planning your trip.

11:01 AM

Holidays may be off-limits until autumn, Transport Secretary suggests

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has suggested that international leisure travel may not be permitted until the UK’s vaccination programme is complete – in autumn 2021, according to Government plans.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Shapps was asked what next steps would need to be completed for Britons to be permitted to take holidays again. “First of all, everybody having their vaccinations,” the Transport Secretary responded. 

Presenter Louise Minchin asked: “Until that’s done, these restrictions won’t be lifted?”

“Yes,” Shapps replied. “We’ll need to wait for other countries to catch up as well, in order to do that wider international unlock,” he added.

10:37 AM

 Covid vaccine certificates could be issued in UK after all



a airplane that is covered in snow with Santorini in the background: On Tuesday, ministers in Greece announced that fully-vaccinated travellers from Israel would be permitted to visit without undergoing mandatory quarantine - Getty


© Getty
On Tuesday, ministers in Greece announced that fully-vaccinated travellers from Israel would be permitted to visit without undergoing mandatory quarantine – Getty


Travellers could get Covid vaccine certificates to enable entry to countries under plans being discussed by ministers with Governments and aviation industry.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, disclosed that he was in talks with the US, Singapore and UN’s ICAO aviation body about an international certification system to ease travel for those with Covid vaccinations.

“Just as we have the yellow fever card… I imagine that in the future there’ll be an international system where countries will want to know that you’ve been potentially vaccinated,” he told the BBC Radio Four Today programme.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also revealed that it was in talks with the UK Government about a prototype app for travellers to prove they have been vaccinated, which is being trialled by three airlines. 

Charles Hymas has the full story.

10:33 AM

‘It’s time to free us from lockdown, Boris – we have suffered enough’

So says Allison Pearson, writing in The Telegraph today.

Some of the most contented, stable people I know are struggling. Reserves depleted, increasingly we are running on empty.

Not only is there a lack of light outside, there is a growing darkness within. One in five British adults admits to recently having had suicidal thoughts.

Read the full article.

10:18 AM

UAE’s national airline is world’s first to vaccinate all crew

Etihad Airways has become the first airline in the world to vaccinate all of its pilots and cabin crew.

Since December 2020, the airline has offered in-house inoculation appointments to its employees and their wider households, using the Sinofarm drug.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We proactively made the vaccine available to all our employees to not only help combat the effects of COVID-19 but to make travellers feel confident and reassured the next time they fly with us. We are the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for every passenger and crew member before every flight and now, we’re the first airline in the world with 100% vaccinated crew on board.

“I chose very early on to be vaccinated to demonstrate my own support of the national vaccination programme and to encourage everyone at Etihad who was eligible for the vaccine, to receive it as soon as possible. I would like to thank the entire Etihad family for everything they have done to help us reach this milestone – I am truly humbled.”

10:02 AM

How much will hotel quarantine cost?

Heath Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday that a ten-day hotel quarantine stay will cost single travellers £1,750 per person – including transport to the hotel, ten nights’ accommodation, three meals per day, and all testing required.

But what if you are travelling as a couple or family? If travellers are sharing the same room, the additional fee for one extra adult or a child aged over 12 is £650, and for a child aged between five and 12 it is £325.

Hancock told the Commons that an online booking platform will go live tomorrow, allowing travellers to pre-book their hotel quarantine stay before entering the country. A total of 4,600 rooms across 16 hotels have been contracted, though the list of properties is, as yet, unconfirmed. 

09:46 AM

ABTA: Government needs to work on a roadmap to reopen travel

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has called for sector-specific Government support for the travel industry, and a clear exit strategy from the UK’s tightening travel restrictions.

A spokesperson told Telegraph Travel:

At present, very few people are going overseas due to the restrictions on travel. However, we will restart travel at some point and any requirement for multiple tests could have serious cost implications for travellers, which will hurt demand, so any new measure needs to be temporary.

Government needs to work with the industry to develop a roadmap to reopen travel. As the vaccine rollout progresses in the UK, it is appropriate that the Government keeps their approach to testing requirements, and other matters, such as vaccine certificates, under careful review to enable international travel to recover while at the same time protecting public health. Wider use of rapid testing methods, providing quicker and cheaper testing, could be part of that solution.

In the meantime, we need to see some recognition from the Government of loss of income and revenue experienced by the travel industry over the last 12 months, by providing tailored financial support to help businesses get through the crisis.

09:32 AM

A great idea, or utterly irresponsible?

Chris Wright, MD of travel agency Sunvil, asks why anybody would travel directly from a ‘red list’ destination to the UK – and endure the necessary hotel quarantine – when they could fly via a different country and spend 10 days in the sun (for the same price) instead.

Do you agree? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below…

09:23 AM

‘There is no way the Government can stop 40 million vaccinated people living their lives’

Though the UK’s borders are closed in all-but name, there is hope on the horizon says one travel expert.

Paul Charles, founder of travel consultancy the PC Agency, is confident that holidays will be possible by May:

“If the Government wishes to avoid a swathe of job losses across the aviation and travel sector, then it needs to set out an exit plan for these tougher measures. More testing is the answer in the short-term to preventing further variants, but tests should be done at the airport on arrival and replace quarantine.

There is no way that the Government can stop 40 million vaccinated people living their lives by May – and that includes overseas trips. Otherwise what is the vaccine, that we’ve been promised will unlock normality, for?”

09:13 AM

PM to set out plans to restart travel on February 22

Grant Shapps told Radio 4’s Today programme that Boris Johnson will outline his plans for ‘unlocking’ the country in two weeks’ time.

The Prime Minister will say more about the route to unlocking this country [on] the 22nd of February, but we don’t know yet whether that will include information on things like booking holidays – simply because we don’t know where we’ll be up to in terms of the decline in cases [….] and the vaccine programme internationally.

The Transport Secretary was also asked about comments made by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), who has revealed it is in talks with the Government about a coronavirus vaccination app for travellers – despite repeated denials by Number 10. 

Shapps said the confusion was over a passport would be needed “to go to the pub or something like that”, suggesting it was more likely to be introduced as “an international system where countries will want to know you have been vaccinated or had tests taken before flying”.

He added: “The UK Government is speaking to other governments about this – I am speaking to my Singaporean counterpart, my US counterpart. We will have discussions about those things to have an internationally recognised system.

“The confusion comes when people talk about domestic passports, which I think are not on the cards.”

08:57 AM

Do not book summer holidays in UK or abroad, Transport Secretary says

Grant Shapps has urged people not to book summer holidays either in the UK or abroad, suggesting there is no certainty they won’t still be illegal later this year. 

The Transport Secretary told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Please don’t go ahead and book holidays for something which at this stage is illegal to actually go and do, either here or abroad.”

He added that “we simply don’t know the answer as to where we will be this summer”, telling would-be holidaymakers to “wait until that is clear before booking anything”. 

People should “do nothing at this stage,” he added. 



a group of people standing on top of a sandy beach: Locals enjoy a walk on Carcavelos Beach in Lisbon, Portugal – now strictly off-limits for Britons - Getty


© Getty
Locals enjoy a walk on Carcavelos Beach in Lisbon, Portugal – now strictly off-limits for Britons – Getty

Shapps also defended the 10-year prison sentence people found to have lied about where they are travelling into the UK from – but suggested it is unlikely to be used. 

He told Radio 4’s Today programme that concealing a trip to a red list country would be “impacting on a lot of people’s lives, potentially losing people lives”, but stressed you would “have had to go to deliberately out of your way to lie about it”. 

“But it is important that we make clear to people that this is a serious problem – if you are deliberately… seeking to evade and avoid detection for having been in those countries, it is important to know there are very stiff fines.”

08:50 AM

Does Mr Hancock really think a non-disclosed Portugal visit is worse than a sexual offence? 

Writing for The Telegraph, former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption says the threat of £10,000 fines and ten-year prison sentences for holidaymakers shows that the Health Secretary’s connection with reality has “finally snapped”:

Ten years is the maximum sentence for threats to kill, non-fatal poisoning or indecent assault. Does Mr Hancock really think that non-disclosure of a visit to Portugal is worse than the large number of violent firearms offences or sexual offences involving minors, for which the maximum is seven years?

The hotel quarantine rules are a form of imprisonment in solitary confinement. They are brutal, inhumane and disproportionate. They are economically extremely destructive. They are also of limited value because the virus is already endemic in the UK and  spontaneously mutates all the time.

Penal policy seeks to match the sentence to the gravity of the crime. When policy-makers impose savage and disproportionate sentences, it is usually because the rule in question is not widely respected and breaches are hard to detect. 

They reckon that if they can only catch ten per cent of offenders, they need to impose spectacular penalties on them so as to deter the other ninety per cent. This technique is arbitrary and unfair.

Read the full piece.

08:38 AM

Outcry over ten-year sentences for holidaymakers

Families who lie about going on holiday to destinations such as Portugal face up to 10 years in prison – longer than the maximum sentence for sex offences with children or violent firearms crimes.

On Tuesday, Matt Hancock announced that anyone seeking to conceal their trip to a “red list” country – from which arrivals have to spend ten days in a quarantine hotel – would face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Two former Conservative attorney generals were among those questioning the wisdom of picking a maximum prison sentence of 10 years for holidaymakers.

Dominic Grieve said: “The maximum sentence of 10 years for what is effectively a regulatory breach sounds in the circumstances, unless it can be justified, extraordinarily high”, and Sir Geoffrey Cox said: “I get that the Secretary of State wants to show that this is serious, but you do have to have regard to the overall balance of sentencing policy and law.”

The move was also criticised by Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the Tory backbench Covid Recovery Group, who backed Lord Sumption’s comments and added: “We are suppressing this virus at all costs and I really would implore ministers to take stock. At some point we are going to have to see reason and let temperance reassert itself.”

Charles Hymas has the story.

08:06 AM

Yesterday’s news

First, a quick catch up on the headlines from Tuesday:

  • Travellers who ‘conceal’ where they have been will face 10 years in prison 
  • Travellers will pay for hotel quarantine, as Matt Hancock reveals first deals struck 
  • Scotland announces ‘managed quarantine’ for all international arrivals from Monday   
  • Vaccines kickstart international travel again whilst UK adds triple border tests 
  • Government’s lack of clarity is ‘devastating for an industry which is already on its knees’
  • Britons vaccinated against Covid could get QR codes to travel

Now, on with today’s top travel stories.