|Over the past few days the press, media and the twittersphere have been full of stories of scientists and politicians warning against opening up England to international travel from 17 May. Most of this is speculation, with the government’s Global Travel Task Force yet to report on 12 April. I predicted in my last bulletin that opening up will be subject to some form of traffic light system with differing levels of restrictions. If rumours are true, then this is what is being discussed and as infection rates increase in continental Europe it is possible that some favourite destinations for UK holidaymakers will fall foul of the traffic light system. But I don’t want to deal in rumours. So what hard news do we have this week?
Last week the EU published its proposals for a Digital Green Certificate (or Passport) which will provide evidence of a traveller’s Covid status and allow them entry into EU countries. The certificate will provide proof of either vaccination, recent recovery from Covid or a negative PCR test. It is due to be rolled out by summer for EU member states. Initially, UK citizens are likely to have to apply for a certificate but eventually the aim is that the Digital Green Pass will also integrate with whatever certificate system the UK decides to use and so allow smooth travel from the UK to the EU. Talks between the UK and the EU on this have yet to begin.
Yesterday UK regulations were published which mean that anyone travelling abroad or even going to an airport in order to travel overseas without a reasonable excuse for travel can be fined £5000. These regulations will come into force on Monday 29 March and be reviewed on 12 April.
All of this is rather dispiriting for hopeful travellers. But as I am always saying, if you book the right way and with the right tour operator you can still book safely. And there is always 2022! The industry is seeing a real increase in bookings for more than 12 months ahead.
Last week saw two pieces of good news for travellers hoping to visit Mauritius. First, it was removed from the UK’s Red List meaning that arrivals from Mauritius will no longer need to quarantine in a hotel on their return. Secondly, although the country remains closed to tourism for now, it has resumed its vaccination programme with a focus on vaccinating those working in the travel and tourism sector. Tourism is critical to Mauritius’ economy and with incredibly low infection rates I think Mauritius could be a really good destination for a holiday later this year. October through to December is the best time to visit so fingers crossed. Many travel to Mauritius for its beautiful beaches, stunning seas, gorgeous weather and luxury hotels. But there is another side to Mauritius. So why not combine a stay on the beach with some time in a luxury boutique hotel in the interior and don your walking boots for a hike in the Black River Gorges National Park. The park is home to rare endemic plants and birdlife and boasts spectacular natural scenery and excellent walks. Click here to read more about Mauritius
As I mentioned last week, Portugal has come off the UK’s Red List and has said it plans to open to UK travellers from May. Covid infection rates in Portugal continue to drop and their vaccination programme is under way so things are looking good. If, in search of sun and beaches, you head to the Algarve, consider turning east rather than west when you leave Faro airport. The western Algarve is a popular holiday destination with stunning beaches and resort hotels to suit all tastes and budgets. But if you head east away from the crowds you will find a more authentic Portugal. The Ria Formosa National Park stretches for forty miles along the coast and there is little significant development. Instead you can stay in boutique design hotels and hotels full of character including a pousada in a 19th century ancestral home and another in a former convent. The beaches are a real attraction here too, many of them sited on sand bars along the coast which you access by boat or in one case a miniature train. The eastern Algarve is probably not the right destination if you are looking for nightlife but if what you want is tranquility, stunning scenery, great hotels and a taste of real Portugal then head east of Faro. Click here to read more about Portugal
The island of Jersey will open to travellers from the UK and its crown dependencies from 26 April. Too late for an Easter break but a lovely time of year to visit the island nevertheless. You will need to complete an online form and take a Covid test on arrival and on days 5 and 10 (if you stay that long). The island has some lovely sandy beaches, stylish hotels, beautiful countryside and of course a bit of French je ne sais quoi!