Weekly travel bulletin 16/03/21

Independent travel advice you can trust in Shearwater Travel’s weekly travel bulletin covering changes to UK travel restrictions, destinations opening up to UK travellers, how to book safely and inspiration for your next trip.    
This week:
  • Portugal and the Azores
  • Israel
  • Turkey

First, an update on the UK travel ban and the steps being taken by the travel industry to offer complete flexibility to travellers booking holidays now.  The tourism industry waits with bated breath for the report from the UK Government’s Global Travel Task Force due on 12 April 2021.  What seems likely is the announcement of some form of travel corridor or red/amber/green list of destinations.  Vaccination rates as well as infection rates and instances of variants are likely to be key factors.

The travel industry is now getting creative with ways in which holidaymakers can book safely. Many tour operators are now offering flexible booking policies which will let you change your dates or destination without any amendment fees up to 15 days before you travel.  There may be additional costs if you change to a peak season or more expensive destination (and a refund if you switch to a cheaper one) and tour operators may have to pass on fees charged by the airlines.  

All of this means that booking a holiday right now is not as foolhardy as some are suggesting. In fact, it may be foolhardy not to take advantage of these policies! These great deals won’t be around forever.

Portugal & The Azores

Portugal will be removed from the Red List this Friday meaning that travellers returning from Portugal will no longer need to quarantine in a hotel.  This paves the way for holidays to Portugal this summer, possibly even for half term if the UK’s travel ban is lifted in time. The Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism has said that Portugal hopes to open to holiday makers from the beginning of May.  Not just to vaccinated travellers but also to those who can show immunity and those with a negative PCR test.  Portugal has many beautiful areas beyond the well loved beaches of the Algarve and the sophisticated delights of Lisbon. Perhaps our favourite region isn’t in mainland Portugal at all but in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores archipelago has spectacular scenery (think waterfalls, volcanic craters, iridescent blue crater lakes, thermal springs, geysers and wild hydrangeas), a huge variety of activities and opportunities for whale and dolphin spotting.  Click here to read more about the Azores


We are seeing an increase in interest in holidays to Israel.  With a world leading vaccination programme and a desire to open to international travel (it has already agreed travel bubbles with Cyprus and Greece although not as yet with the UK) we think Israel would be a great destination for a holiday later this year, for vaccinated travellers at least.  Israel is a small country but it is packed with rich cultural and historical sites. Renowned for its biblical history, its modern side should not be ignored. Tel Aviv with its lively port Jaffa, trail-blazing Israeli food scene and buzzing nightlife is becoming a great long weekend destination.  Also not to be missed are the dramatic landscapes and spectacular rock formations in the Negev Desert, a few hours drive from Jerusalem.  With luxury hotels and an abundance of hiking trails  the desert makes a great stay at the end of a trip to Jerusalem.   Click here to read more about Israel.


This week the Turkish Minister for Tourism is widely reported to have announced that Turkey will be open to British travellers this summer without imposing any requirement that travellers be vaccinated.  This is great news for those travelling with family who may still be awaiting their vaccinations.  The Minister has also said that in April the Turkish Government will review whether British tourists will even need to show a negative Covid test in order to visit.  The country is prioritising the vaccination of people working in the tourism sector to ensure holidays in Turkey will be safe. Turkey has a great combination of reliable sunshine, beautiful beaches and azure seas, historical sites, walking trails, lovely villas and hotels and fabulous food.  Click here to read more about Turkey.  

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