SUMMER holidays in Europe are inching closer to reality, as tourism bosses in Greece, Cyprus and Portugal have all announced plans to open their borders to British tourists.
May 17 is still the earliest that foreign travel could be allowed, with Grant Shapps repeating on Wednesday that it’s still too soon to book a foreign holiday.
However, the transport secretary also confirmed that the UK will introduce a vaccine passport scheme to help travel return to normal.
He told MPs on Thursday that the Global Travel Taskforce would publish its report on a form of “travel certification” on April 12, when we can also expect to find out more about whether foreign travel will open up on May 17 as expected.
Whenever travel restrictions ease there will be plenty of holiday hotspots ready to welcome UK holidaymakers with a warm, if socially distanced welcome.
Some countries, such as Spain, plan to implement a vaccine passport scheme for British tourists as soon as May.
While others, such as Portugal and Greece, have said that they’ll be happy to accept visitors who can only provide a negative Covid test or proof of antibodies.
Below we look at when our favourite holiday destinations could be welcoming us back.
For each, we’ve found a deal for later summer you can book now.
IT’S likely that travellers to Spain will need to have been vaccinated before travel.
Following the EU’s announcement of plans to create a vaccine passport scheme this week, Spain has said that it hopes to be utilising the so-called Digital Green Pass by May.
The pass, which could be opened up to non-member states including the UK, could allow travel to Spain at best by March but possibly much later.
However, Spain may be cautious about Brits returning due to worries over UK variants and has stalled UK flights until at least March 30.
Hopes of jetting off to Spain this summer could also depend upon the speed of the country’s vaccine rollout.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain would only welcome international tourists once 70 per cent of its population were vaccinated. That’s not expected until the end of the summer.
- Seven nights’ B&B at the 4.5H Jardin Tropical in Costa Adeje is from £769pp based on two sharing including London flights on selected dates between 1 July and 27 July 2021 with 23kg luggage allowance. Book by March 21 at ba.com/spain.
IT’S not looking good for holidays to Italy until later this summer.
The nation has ruled out letting Brits in until April 6 at the earliest and is bracing for a third wave of infections, with rates just behind Cyprus at a weekly average of 237.4 per 100,000.
Infection rates also vary dramatically across the country, which has the potential to make holidays to Italy confusing when foreign travel does start up again.
For example, Sardinia, where Covid rates are very low, is banning anyone who has not been vaccinated and tested negative from entering the island from next weekend.
- Seven nights’ self-catering at Montescudaio holiday park in Tuscany is from £123.83pp based on six sharing a two bed Classic Mobile Home. Arrive August 23. See alfresco-holidays.com.
GREECE is the word for summer holidays in 2021 after the country announced this week that Brits can enter either with proof of a negative test result, a vaccine or antibodies.
Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theocharis, who announced that UK tourists will be welcomed back from May 1, has not laid out exactly how the system will work.
Despite cases rising in the country, with a rolling seven day average of 130 per 100,000, holidays to Greece are still a solid bet for summer.
Exactly when we will be allowed to travel is going to depend on when our own government lets us.
- Seven nights’ self-catering at the Aristotelia Gi in Halkidiki, Greece is from £729pp based on two sharing including Gatwick flights, 20kg luggage and transfers. See sunvil.co.uk.
FLIGHTS to Portugal from the UK are currently banned until March 16 at the earliest.
After that date the Portuguese government has said that those who have tested negative or who are “immune” should be able to visit.
Portugal currently has the lowest infection rates of any European beach destination with only 53 rolling weekly infections per 100,000. The country won praise for its handling of the first wave of the pandemic so it could be a good bet for continued low rates into summer 2021.
While the island of Madeira has already opened up a “green corridor” for vaccinated travellers or those who can prove they have recovered from the virus in the previous 90 days.
- Seven nights’ B&B at the Hotel Dorisol Mimosa in Funchal, Madeira, is from £503pp based on two sharing, including return flights from East Midlands on August 23 with 22kg checked luggage and transfers. See jet2holidays.com.
WITH British holidaymakers making up the vast majority of visitors to the island, Cyprus is – very understandably – keen to welcome us back as soon as possible.
The Cypriot government said last week that fully vaccinated holidaymakers could visit from May 1.
It is also worth noting that among the popular holiday hotspots, Cyprus currently has some of the highest rates of infection.
However, there is still time for that number to come right down.
But it’s worth bearing in mind when thinking about which countries will be on the UK Government’s list of destinations requiring holidaymakers to self-quarantine after visiting.
- Seven nights’ B&B at the 5H TUI Blue Pioneer Beach in Paphos is from £745pp based on two adults sharing, including flights from Birmingham departing August 5.
THE Canary Islands’ tourism boss Yaiza Castilla is adopting a more cautious approach and has stated that the vaccine passport might need to be paired with additional testing to “further minimise the risk” of infection.
Reflecting on the decisive issue that could hold back holidays for Brits across Europe this year, the islands’ tourism minister added that the proportion of vaccinations given to locals on the islands would need to reach “the same level as the UK” before they can guarantee the safety of holidaymakers.
- Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 4H Sunlight Bahia Principe Costa Adeje is from £491pp based on two sharing including flights departing Gatwick on August 31. Find out more and book at teletextholidays.co.uk
HOLIDAYS to France only require a negative Covid test as of Friday when the French government removed the UK and six other countries from a list of nations from which visitors need a “compelling reason” to travel.
France’s Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said the change was due to the improving health situation in the UK and the spread of the Kent variant.
He said in a tweet: “The list includes Britain, because the UK variant now also circulates widely in France.”
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal also said on Wednesday that France is looking into a Covid-19 vaccine passport scheme, saying it hoped to have it ready to go by the summer.
- Seven nights’ self-catering at The Holiday Village Normandy Garden, Branville, Normandy is from £226pp based on three sharing a standard studio apartment, arriving August 21. See pierreetvacances.co.uk.
THERE has been no update yet on when Croatia might open up to holidaymakers. However, regional tourist bosses are lobbying for a swift loosening of restrictions.
Dubrovnik’s mayor, Mato Frankovic, has said that British travellers should be allowed to enter, either with proof of prior infection, full vaccination or a negative PCR test.
He added: “The UK market is the most important tourist market in the city of Dubrovnik.”
- Seven nights’ B&B at the 5H Sun Gardens Dubrovnik is from £989pp based on two sharing, including Gatwick flights with checked luggage departing September 1 and private transfers. See prestigeholidays.co.uk.
THE Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza and Majorca, are keen to welcome holidaymakers ahead of the mainland and have even asked Spain’s central government to allow them to trial vaccine passports.
The islands’ minister for tourism said of the proposal: “This will mean that the Balearics will once again be one of the first destinations to open.”
- Seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 4H Palladium Hotel Palmyra, Ibiza, is from £529pp including Bristol flights, 23kg luggage allowance and transfers on October 13, 2021. See easyjet.com/en/holidays.
LIKELY to allow jabbed travellers and those who have been tested in to the country from May.
To ensure staff are vaccinated for when tourists arrive, from Friday tourism and hotel workers have been given priority for the vaccine.
Its jab rollout leads all of the EU’s beach destinations, at 12 jabs per 100. And Tui says Turkey was the top destination Brits booked following the PM’s roadmap announcement last month.
The Mediterranean coastal regions of Antalya, Izmir and Muglia have a weekly average of around 70 cases per 100,000 – not far off the UK’s current infection rate.
- Seven nights’ room-only at the 3H Hanay Suit in Side is from £349pp based on two sharing including London flights on selected dates July 1 – 15, 2021, with 23kg luggage allowance. Book by March 21 at ba.com/turkey.
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