As the government’s latest review of its traffic light system for international travel is due to be announced later today, “very few” changes to its red, amber and green lists are expected, according to one expert.
“Very few traffic light changes due tomorrow afternoon,” Paul Charles, travel consultant and CEO of the PC Agency, tweeted last night.
“Government simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to deal with Afghanistan, Covid and traffic lights.
“Consumers and the travel sector would prefer a simpler, cheaper, less onerous traffic lights and testing system.”
There was some speculation that the next travel update would be released yesterday, but it now looks likely to happen at some point this evening.
Department for Transport sources have confirmed to the The Independent that the announcement will be made at some point “later today”.
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Travel announcement may not happen today, claims consultant
After the tragic news coming out of Afghanistan, the government may choose to postpone the latest traffic light announcement, one expert has claimed.
Paul Charles, travel consultant and CEO of the PC Agency, tweeted that he thought revealing the updates today would be “insensitive”.
“I do not expect a traffic light review to be announced on the same afternoon as so many tragic casualties in Kabul,” he said. “It would be highly insensitive.”
Helen Coffey26 August 2021 16:11
‘BA Lite’ to take over British Airways short-haul flights at Gatwick
British Airways is to set up a separate low-cost subsidiary for European and domestic flights at Gatwick – allowing it to compete with budget airlines.
A “BA Lite” operation has been repeatedly considered by British Airways bosses seeking to make the Sussex airport profitable.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, BA’s Gatwick short-haul network has been dormant, though some long-haul flights are continuing.
With the ending of the government’s furlough scheme next month, the new British Airways chief executive, Sean Doyle, has decided to press ahead with plans to cut costs and make BA more competitive with easyJet.
Simon Calder26 August 2021 15:51
Drivers urged to avoid Friday getaway for Bank Holiday weekend
Drivers are being warned to avoid embarking on a bank holiday getaway on Friday afternoon.
Transport analytics firm Inrix said motorists should set off in the morning or after 7pm to miss major traffic jams.
The RAC estimated that 16.7 million leisure trips on UK roads are planned between Friday and Monday.
It added that hopes of good late summer weather could see even more people jumping in their car for a day trip or last-minute break.
Inrix said there could be a 25 per cent increase in delays on Friday compared with a typical August day as millions of people embark on a bank holiday getaway.
The South West is expected to bear the brunt of the traffic over the weekend, with journey times on classic holiday routes such as the M5 and A303 more than doubling at certain times.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “It’s been an incredibly busy summer on the UK’s roads with vast numbers of people on the move both for staycation holidays and for day trips to the sea and countryside.
“Our figures suggest this is a trend that will continue, with bumper-to-bumper bank holiday traffic expected, especially on the most popular holiday routes.
“While this weekend will see many people returning from summer holidays in the UK, the fine and settled weather will also be seen as an opportunity by lots of people to jump in their cars for last-minute trips – after all, this is the last bank holiday weekend in England, Wales and Northern Ireland before Christmas.”
Thailand extends its reopening for tourists
Thailand has announced a further extension to its reopening plans for tourists.
The “Phuket Sandbox 7+7” programme provides fully vaccinated international travellers with the option to visit multiple Thai destinations without the need to quarantine.
Following the initial launch of the Phuket Sandbox from 1 July and Samui Plus from 15 July, the Phuket Sandbox 7+7, from 16 August, allows eligible, fully vaccinated international travellers to reduce the previous 14 night mandatory stay in Phuket to seven nights, after which another seven nights can be spent in either Krabi (Ko Phi Phi, Ko Ngai, or Railay), Phang-Nga (Khao Lak or Ko Yao), or Surat Thani (Ko Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, or Ko Tao).
The existing entry measures in place for the Phuket Sandbox programme remain unchanged for the 7+7 extension. Travellers wishing to travel onwards from Phuket after seven nights must obtain a ‘Transfer Form’ issued by their hotel in Phuket proving their seven-night stay, plus they must show negative results from their two Covid-19 tests (conducted on day 0 and day six or seven in Phuket).
“Since 1 July Phuket has welcomed over 24,000 (fully vaccinated) international arrivals (UK being the second source market) with just 70 testing positive for Covid-19,” said Chiravadee Khunsub, director of The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) London.
“The Sandbox concept has proved to be a controlled and safe return to restarting tourism and has generated over 100 million Thai Baht for the local economy.
“There is a long way to go but with our peak winter sun season ahead (November-March) and the opening of more of Thailand’s popular beaches and islands this month, travellers can look forward to romantic getaways and fun family breaks without quarantine restrictions.”
Helen Coffey26 August 2021 14:27
Lithuania to offer tourists third night free of charge
Lithuania is uniting more than 500 of the country’s accommodation sites – from inns and B&Bs to international hotel brands – to offer the third night’s stay free of charge to the first registered 10,000 tourists.
The offer will run from 1 September to 8 November as part of the a wider campaign launched by the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation and the state’s tourism agency “Lithuania Travel.”
The goal is to inspire tourists to spend more time in Lithuania by experiencing the country slowly, rather than taking a whirlwind city break.
Lithuania is currently on the UK’s amber list, meaning fully vaccinated travellers and accompanying minors can avoid quarantine when returning to the UK.
Helen Coffey26 August 2021 14:08
Qantas posts $1.7 billion dollar loss, predicts Australia will reopen for travel December
Qantas Group has posted a 2.35 billion Australia dollar ($1.7 billion) pandemic-related annual loss – as well as forecasting that Australia could reopen to international travel in December.
“One of the biggest unknowns is the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers entering Australia,” the statement said.
“If Australia keeps its requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine, travel demand would be ‘very low’.
“A shorter period with additional testing and the option to isolate at home will see a lot more people travel.”
Lucy Thackray26 August 2021 13:26
US urged to accept AstraZeneca vaccine to open up travel from UK
At present, the United States government doesn’t officially recognise the Oxford-made vaccine, which is one of the three types currently being administered in the UK, alongside Moderna and Pfizer.
Even if it were to offer a reciprocal agreement allowing double-jabbed Brits to enter the country – as hoped by many in the UK – until the CDC formally recognises AstraZeneca, approximately 23.9 million people from the UK would be discriminated against.
“It’s crucial the US authorities step forward to formally approve the AstraZeneca vaccine as a matter of urgency, to enable cross-border mobility and the return of transatlantic travel between the UK and US,” said Virginia Messina, senior vice president of the WTTC.
“Unless they give it the green light, the US will effectively remain closed to the vast majority of UK visitors and the many millions around the world who are double-jabbed with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Helen Coffey26 August 2021 12:59
“Please don’t come down” says Visit Cornwall chief executive
The chief executive of Visit Cornwall has urged UK holidaymakers to stay away from the county unless they have already booked their trips.
Malcolm Bell told Sky News this morning: “We are very, very busy… please don’t come down on spec. You are going to get frustrated, you’re going get annoyed. You probably won’t be able to find anywhere to stay and you’ll certainly struggle to find anywhere to book into a restaurant or café.”
A total of 4,430 new cases were recorded across the county in the seven days to August 20 – the equivalent of 770 cases per 100,000 people – with some linking the sharp rise to mingling at this month’s Boardmasters Festival in Newquay.
Only around 800 of those positive cases are people who live in Cornwall.
Bell said that the county had witnessed “too many occurrences of overcrowding in honeypots” – the most popular bits of the holiday-favourite county – and urged visitors to consider visiting less well-trodden parts of Cornwall.
Lucy Thackray26 August 2021 12:37
Mauritius halves quarantine for double-jabbed travellers from September
From September, fully vaccinated travellers visiting Mauritius will only have to quarantine for one week after arrival in the country.
The island’s authorities are reducing the quarantine period from two weeks, which must be spent in one of 14 designated ‘resort bubble’ hotels around the island.
The change in rules for double-jabbed visitors kicks in from 1 September – from when single- and non-vaccinated travellers must still quarantine for the full two weeks.
Lucy Thackray26 August 2021 12:14
Air travel traffic down 87% from pre-pandemic levels
Air travel to the UK continues to be severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.
Just 1.4 million airline passengers arrived in the country last month, according to Home Office data.
That was up 14 per cent on the figure of 1.3 million in July 2020, but 87 per cent lower than the 11.2 million arrivals during the same month in 2019.
Some 54 per cent of arrivals last month were British nationals.
The total number of arrivals between April 2020 and July 2021 was 90 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
The travel sector has been badly hit by the fall in demand, with thousands of jobs lost.
Rob Griggs, policy and public affairs director at Airlines UK, which represents UK-based carriers, said: “These stats are a stark reminder that, for the UK’s airlines, this crisis remains at its height, with recovery hindered by a complex set of travel rules, excessive testing costs and too much uncertainty.
“Nightclubs have reopened. There is no reason why fully vaccinated travellers or those coming to the UK from low-risk countries should still be facing the level of costs and restrictions they are.
“Some 58 per cent of air transport jobs remain furloughed – the highest of any sector – even as this critical support ends next month.
“Unless and until things change, airlines will need ongoing economic support over the winter to safeguard thousands of skilled, good jobs across the country.”