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Monday, November 23, 2020

Travel news: 'Dramatic' surge in bookings as more of the world opens up

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Britons are rushing to book long-haul holidays following the somewhat surprising news of eight new travel corridors on Thursday.

Coupled with fresh hope in the form of a Covid-19 vaccine, and South Africa’s decision this week to lift its ban on visitors from ‘high risk’ countries, the UK included, confidence in holidays for 2021 has enjoyed a significant boost.

A rep for Scott Dunn told Telegraph Travel: “We have seen a dramatic increase in enquiries and bookings this week since the news of vaccine and travel corridors. South Africa has taken a big jump this week and the United Arab Emirates has also seen a large increase. Africa generally is looking strong and is up over 600 per cent this week in terms of enquiries – specifically Kenya.”

Among other operators we spoke to, Adventure travel specialist Wild Frontiers told us: “For the first time in eight weeks our sales team are actually dealing with sales enquiries and not transfers and cancellations.”

Club Med also reported a 78 per cent surge in search interest for its Turks & Caicos resort in the 24 hours following the announcement of its travel corridor.

The Telegraph’s Unlock Long-Haul campaign is pushing for the UK Government to grant more travel corridors to far-flung destinations where Covid-19 rates are low.

Scroll down for more of the latest

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12:11PM

‘Airlines are reporting surprisingly strong long-haul bookings’ 

Here’s what aviation expert John Strickland has to say about the future of long-haul.

We’ve seen that where short-haul travel has become available and quarantines have eased or been removed that there is enormous pent up demand for travel. Now, airlines are reporting perhaps surprisingly strong bookings on popular long-haul markets which suggests that the same will be true when these destinations do open up.

11:55AM

The best 2021 cruises from Southampton

‘We’ve had quite enough of you, 2020,’ writes Joanna Booth. ‘With your constantly fluctuating quarantine requirements and confusingly complex lockdown rules, you’re in danger of becoming our least favourite year.

‘But all is not lost. 2021 is in our sights, and with a host of tempting cruises leaving from Southampton, you can sail off to pastures new with ease and convenience. It’s time to get booking and start dreaming. Your next cruise is just around the corner.’

Read her guide to the best options here.

11:40AM

That’s one way of enticing tourists…

Here is Palestinian public figure Issa Kassissieh, reportedly Israels’s only ‘certified’ Father Christmas, posing in the Dead Sea near Ein Bokeq

Credit:
AP

israel

According to AP, he’s filming a promotional video for the Israeli Tourism Ministry 

Credit:
AP

11:31AM

‘Enquiries are coming in thick and fast’ – adventure travel operator

Another encouraging industry response as the world opens up to travel again.

Jonny Bealby, founder of tour operator Wild Frontiers, said:

What a difference a day makes! For the first time in eight weeks our sales team are actually dealing with sales enquiries and not transfers and cancellations. Our bookings are up 100 per cent.

Our adventurous travellers have been grounded for the best part of nine months, and now they see light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a vaccine, they are keen to get some travel plans in the diary. We are starting to see enquiries coming in thick and fast again. Long may it continue.

11:08AM

Which new travel corridor countries can I visit?

The eight new additions to the quarantine-free list, effective from November 14 (yesterday), are: Bahrain, Chile, Iceland, Cambodia, Laos, UAE, Qatar and Turks & Caicos. Among the eight, these are the destinations that are – or soon will be – most feasible for a holiday:

Dubai: after December 2, you can visit. Here’s the FCO advice: Travellers coming from the UK to Dubai have the option to either present a negative Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test before departure, which is valid for 96 hours from the date of the test, or to take a PCR test on arrival at Dubai airport. Travellers to the rest of the UAE must have carried out a test within 96 hours and received a negative result prior to their departure. Depending on your port of entry, you may also need to undertake a second test on arrival, to wear a government-provided wristband and to complete a period of self-isolation or quarantine.

Chile: Not quite yet, but on Thursday Chilean authorities announced that Santiago International Airport (not land borders) would be opened for international visitors from November 23, subject to a range of protocols (including a negative Covid test certificate) – but without a quarantine period. The timing is perfect. 

Iceland: All passengers can choose to either self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival or take two Covid-19 tests, one on arrival and another 5-6 days later. In the meantime you must self-isolate, making trips rather difficult. The test fee is ISK 11,000, or ISK 9,000 if booked in advance, and the second test is free. Children born in 2005 or later will be exempt from both testing and self-isolation. 

Cambodia: There are numerous hoops to jump, and you need to be careful where you change planes (Kuala Lumpur is fine; Singapore is not). If you wish to enter Cambodia you will need to:

  • Get a visa before arrival — the visa exemption policy, visa on arrival and e-visa arrangements are suspended indefinitely
  • Get a medical certificate, no longer than 72 hours prior to the date of travel, from a competent health authority stating you do not have Covid-19. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
  • Have proof of insurance that includes a minimum of US$50,000 for medical cover

Turks & Caicos: If you’re visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands, you must get pre-travel authorisation via the Turks and Caicos Islands Assured Portal. This requires evidence of a negative Covid-19 test from a reputable facility taken within 5 days prior to arrival in the Turks and Caicos Islands, proof of health/travel insurance with Covid-19 cover and a completed health screening questionnaire. However, the only flights to the islands go via the US, which is not on the travel corridor list. Today’s news could inspire airlines to launch direct flights, of course, so watch this space. 

Bahrain: Bahrain International Airport remains open, including for transit and transfer passengers, and visas on arrival have been reintroduced for 68 nationalities including the UK. All arrivals into Bahrain will be required to undergo and pay for the enhanced arrivals testing procedure for Covid-19 and need to self-quarantine until test results have been received. Any person staying in Bahrain for 10 days or more must repeat the testing procedure on the 10th day following their arrival in the Kingdom. You will be required to download the “BeAware” app in advance of testing. You should check Bahrain’s visa portal for the most up to date information.

10:56AM

‘We feel cautiously optimistic for winter holidays’ – travel operator

Clare Beresford, owner of global luxury property rental company, Escape to Hidden Chic, tells Telegraph Travel:

With the recent reopening of the borders in several countries around the world; namely
Colombia , the Bahamas, Antigua and South Africa, the news is positive for holidaymakers. We feel cautiously optimistic that travel will be possible to a number of destinations over the winter months as long as the traveller takes all the necessary precautions and fills out the necessary required paperwork for each destination.

That includes a negative PCR test for most long-haul destinations. What does that involve exactly? Greg Dickinson has written an account: Quick, efficient, uncomfortable – a blow-by-blow account of a pre-holiday Covid test.

10:40AM

Vaccine will not drive down winter infections, warns immunologist

When might we be able to have proper holidays again? Life won’t go back to normal until next summer, according to Professor Uğur Şahin, the immunologist who founded BioNTech, which worked with Pfizer on the development of its Covid-19 vaccine.

He told the BBC:

This winter will be hard, so this will not have a big impact on the infection numbers. We will start to deliver the vaccine at the end of this year, the beginning of next year. It could allow us to already start to make an impact.

The bigger impact won’t happen until summer. The summer will help us anyway because the infection rate will go down in summer, and what is absolutely essential is that we get a high vaccination rate before autumn and winter.

All the processes must be accomplished by next autumn and I’m confident that this will happen so that we can have a normal winter.

10:30AM

Christmas is coming!

… in New York at least. The city has taken delivery of its giant Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Plaza, marking the unofficial start of the festive season. A lighting ceremony for the 11-ton tree is planned for December 2, but visitors will not be allowed to attend.

tree

The 75-foot tall Norway spruce arrived in the early morning hours, accompanied by a police escort along the 185-mile route from Oneonta, New York

Credit:
getty

10:15AM

British holidaymakers drive spike in bookings to the Seychelles

Since the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 tropical islands off East Africa, reopened to Britons in October, bookings have been strong.

Keith Rose-Innes, Director of Blue Safari Seychelles, tells us:

We have seen an incredible increase in guests and in bookings for December and for 2021 from the British market. Many countries across the globe, the Seychelles included, rely on tourism for their economy. The past two weeks have seen a significant rise in countries opening their borders and being added to the FCDO green list. After one of the worst years for the travel and tourism sector, this is exceptionally encouraging and I hope this will lead to more last-minute festive bookings and trips for 2021. 

10:09AM

Australia ‘victim’ of own Covid-19 success

Australia‘s triumph in reining in Covid-19 while infections spiral up in many parts of the world is making the country a “victim of our own success,” as Australians overseas want to come home, a cabinet minister said on Sunday.

Australia closed its borders in March to all but citizens and residents, and the government has kept entries capped and put those allowed into the country in a two-week mandatory quarantine.

Over the weekend, Australia saw its first week of no locally acquired infections and no related deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

“With what’s happening with Covid-19 in other parts of the world, we’re almost becoming a victim of our own success here in Australia, with more people wanting to come back,” Education Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News television on Sunday.

Head over to our coronavirus live blog for more.

9:24AM

What happened yesterday?

A quick recap on the top stories:

  • South Africa lifts ban on all international visitors
  • Greece tightens crackdown with school closures
  • Anti-lockdown protests spread in Portugal
  • Austria to return to full lockdown
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