Travel news latest: Portugal bookings soar, yet tourism remains off-limits

Bookings for Portugal holidays are surging, despite the country’s borders remaining closed to tourists. In the wake of the green list announcement, tour operator Jet2 is reporting a 1,300pc week-on-week rise in holiday reservations, while Ryanair has released an additional 175,000 seats on its UK-Portugal routes this summer. 

Holiday agency Not Just Travel is experiencing a ‘frenzy of activity’ for Portugal bookings, according to co-founder Steve Witt, and Tui has also announced new flights between the UK and Madeira and the Algarve.

However, mainland Portugal remains off-limits to tourism, with no indication of when holidays may resume. As the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office warns, ‘If you are travelling from the UK, you can only enter [Portugal] for essential purposes, such as to live with immediate family members, or for professional, educational, health or humanitarian reasons.’

However, tourism to Portuguese islands Madeira and the Azores is currently permitted, with only the requirement for pre-arrival PCR tests.

Travel agencies are selling Portugal itineraries in the hope that the country’s restrictions may ease, but if tourism remains off-limits they will be forced to rebook or refund holidaymakers. Some are more cautious than others: while Ryanair’s new flights will launch on May 17, Jet2 has delayed its resumption of flights and holidays until June 24. 

Portugal is one of just 12 destinations on the ‘green list’, announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps last week – meaning that holidays can resume from May 17, and travellers returning to the UK will not be required to quarantine. 

Scroll down for more on this, and today’s other top travel stories. 

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