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Spain could introduce its own ‘green corridor’ for vaccinated British holidaymakers, if there is no collective EU decision on vaccine passports, the country’s Tourism Minister Fernando Valdés has said.
Mr Valdés confirmed that Spain was in “discussions” with the UK and told Bloomberg: “For us the British market is our main market. But obviously since we are a member of the European Union, the solutions have first to be part of the discussions in the EU.
“And obviously if that cannot be reached, we will be thinking of other corridors like green corridors with third countries that can help us restart tourism flows.”
The news comes after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday that plans for an EU-wide Digital Green Pass would be proposed this month and that it could be a first step towards a passport facilitating travel from outside the EU.
However, the EU plans were later labelled as “confusing” by Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.
At last night’s Downing Street press briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock signalled that the Government was working with various countries on potential vaccine passports.
He said: “We are working with international partners. The EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work.”
Scroll down for more of today’s travel news.
No 10 attacks Pontins over blacklist of ‘undesirable guests’
Downing Street has condemned Pontins’ use of a blacklist of “undesirable guests”, after staff were told that people with surnames including Boyle, Delaney, Gallagher, McGinley, McMahon and O’Donnell were “unwelcome”.
An investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that the company had been using the blacklist of mainly Irish surnames as part of a policy of refusing bookings by Travellers to its holiday parks.
The Britannia Hotel Group, which owns Pontins, has now signed a legally binding agreement with the EHRC to comprehensively address the issues raised.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This is completely unacceptable. No-one in the UK should be discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity.
“It’s right that the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Pontins investigate and address this.”
Leering Italians and heady freedom: What hitch-hiking across Europe in the 1980s was really like
‘My backpack, containing two pairs of shorts, a bikini and a few T-shirts, was my whole world.’ Heidi Fuller-Love reminisces about her early travels through Europe.
What do you remember of Europe in the Eighties? Was travel better back then, and, if so, why? Please leave your comments below.
Grant Shapps has chaired the first #GlobalTravelTaskforce meeting
Hollywood celebrities boycott Hyatt Hotels after Nazi symbol claims
Actors Rosanna Arquette and Debra Messing signalled their support for a boycott of the Hyatt hotel chain, after one of its properties hosted the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) last weekend.
They claim that the conference stage, where former President Trump spoke among others, was designed to resemble a Nazi symbol, something the organisers strenuously deny.
Variant found in Brazil can cause high rates of reinfection
The Manaus variant of coronavirus detected in the UK could cause reinfection for between 25 per cent and 61 per cent of people who have previously had Covid, a new study suggests.
Research on the P1 variant among people living in the Brazilian city of Manaus found potentially high levels of reinfection, and that the variant was more transmissible than the original pandemic strain.
British experts have cautioned that the study cannot be used to predict what may happen in the UK, and say it does not suggest that vaccines will not work against the variant.
The 50 greatest hotels in Spain for a summer holiday
From sleek city hotels to hilltop castles and grand mansions in pretty villages, Spain has accommodation to suit everyone’s taste, whether you want to sleep in a remote lighthouse or a place with so much to do on-site that you never have to step outside the gates.
For rural relaxation try Belmond La Residencia in the Mallorcan hills:
For a city break, the slick Mandarin Oriental Barcelona is hard to beat:
Find all our top picks here.
Is Cornwall really overrated? We asked our readers
Chris Moss sparked a huge debate when he claimed Cornwall as the UK’s most overrated holiday destination. Many of you agreed.
See what your fellow readers have had to say and then share your thoughts in the comments section below.
‘South and West Wales is just as beautiful without the crowds’
“Had 3 days in January at Newquay and 4 days down near Redruth last October during 2020. Place was rammed. Parking was always a problem, traffic queues everywhere even out of season. Just isn’t worth the hassle. South and West Wales is just as beautiful without the crowds. Cardiganshire in May for us this year!”
‘We swore never to return’
“We had our honeymoon in Cornwall in 1972 and swore never to return and indeed never have. The scenery was as expected but not as picturesque as Filey but the local tradespeople were rude and unhelpful. They clearly resented having to share the county with tourists but grabbed our cash without ever managing even a small smile. If we want a short seaside break we go to the east coast of Yorkshire where we always receive a warm welcome”
Read more views on Cornwall here.
Watch: Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts, sending hot ash into sky
Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupted on Tuesday morning, spewing a massive column of smoke and ash up to 5,000 metres into the sky.
How one tapas bar’s spring clean unearthed a hidden medieval wonder
What should have been a gentle sprucing up turned into a sizeable excavation, writes Chris Leadbeater.
One of the very few silver linings to emerge from the cloud of Covid-19 has been our urge to spring-clean. Or indeed, summer-clean, autumn-clean and winter-clean to boot. With repeated lockdowns and unexpected time at home on our hands, we have sorted out and decluttered. Household tasks left neglected have been given new attention. Walls in need of re-painting have been given fresh coats. Gardens have been weeded, lofts cleared.
But over in Andalusia – and in the notable case of one Seville tapas bar – this reenergising process has gone much further than filling a few boxes for charity donation and kerbside recycling. It has led to a fabulous rediscovery – and a journey back into the 12th century.
Read the full story.
Barcelona’s Primavera Sound cancelled again
Another one bites the dust. The organisers of Spain’s Primavera Sound festival, which is particularly popular with British music fans, have announced it will be postponed once again.
In a statement the festival planners said: “We have reached this painful decision due to the uncertainty surrounding the legal framework for large events on the original dates of the festival – from June 2 to 6 –, which, added to the restrictions that currently exist, mean that we cannot work normally on the preparation of the festival nor ensure that, once the date arrives, it can be celebrated.
“Although it is painful, we know that this is the right decision, especially for those of you who have to plan your trip in advance.”
There had been some hope that the festival would go ahead after organisers ran successful small-scale concert trials back in December.
‘Green corridors’ – ten remote spots to avoid the crowds in Spain
This week, Spain has made the most promising sounds yet that it is in negotiations to set up a ‘green corridor’ with the UK to unlock summer holidays.
While holidays are off the cards right now, under Boris Johnson’s roadmap international holidays could resume from May 17. Anyone booking should heed the advice of our consumer expert, Nick Trend, who has tips on insurance and cancellation policies.
For anyone looking to take a punt on an escape to Spain this summer, we have mined the knowledge of three of our Spain experts – Sally Davies, Annie Bennett and John Wilmott – who have picked out ten beautiful spots to avoid the crowds in Spain.
Read the full story.
Isle of Man to enter three-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown
The island was the envy of many last month, being the only place in the British Isles with no social distancing measures in place.
However from tomorrow it will enter a 21-day lockdown, after a sharp rise in Covid cases thought to linked to an infected ferry crew member. There are currently 52 active cases on the island.
Under the new rules, residents must stay at home, with exemptions for essential travel or exercise.
People without vaccinations should be banned from travelling on planes, says public
The vast majority of people want bans on non-vaccinated people travelling on planes – and would be happy for their vaccination details to be shared for a digital travel health app, an exclusive survey has revealed.
More than six in ten (61 per cent) say they are in favour of flights which only accept passengers who have been vaccinated, according to the survey of more than 2,100 people for the travel think tank Thrive.
Eight in ten (79 per cent) said they were happy for their vaccination details to be passed on by the NHS to a digital health app, for examination by airport officials in other countries.
The findings come as EU leaders indicated that the UK would be included in the EU-wide “vaccine passport” scheme which is designed to open up travel in time for this year’s summer holidays.
Find the full report here.
Discovering Britain’s ‘other’ ancient wall, the wild edge of the Roman Empire
The Antonine Wall stands alongside its more illustrious sibling on Unesco’s World Heritage list; unheralded and begging exploration, writes Robin Mckelvie.
The Antonine Wall was one of the first great feats of construction in a nation that became synonymous with world-class engineering. This sturdy turf fortification on solid stone foundations rose to 4m high and was 5m wide, topped with a wooden palisade, and a hulking defensive ditch guarding its northern flank. Bristling with 16 forts and numerous fortlets, over 7,000 legionnaires tightened a noose around Scotland’s great firths – the Clyde and the Forth.
Read the full story.
New York to offer vaccines to hotel workers
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that hotel workers are now eligible for Covid vaccines in the state.
A statement from Mr Cuomo’s office said: “Hotels in many parts of the state serve as quarantine areas for Covid positive persons to isolate from their families. In turn, the staff at these facilities are being exposed regularly.
“Given the overall increase to the state’s supply and the essential health care service that these hotel workers provide, the Governor is granting localities the flexibility to add hotel workers to the vaccine prioritisation group.”
Approximately 10 million New Yorkers are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, but the state’s vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government.
Restart international travel at Easter to avoid £27bn loss, says WTTC
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called for international travel to resume by Easter, arguing that waiting until mid-May could cost the UK economy a staggering £27 billion.
WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “While the Government’s announcement that international travel could resume on May 17 gives us grounds for optimism, it will come as cold comfort to struggling SMEs and travel and tourism businesses up and down the country.
“Our economic modelling shows the brutal impact the £27 billion loss could have, caused by delaying the restart of international travel by just seven weeks.”
She added: “It would be far less economically damaging to invest in testing and biometric technology which could safely reopen the doors to travel and save the millions of jobs at risk.”
Emirates offers passengers opportunity to buy discounted extra seats
Emirates has announced that it will offer economy passengers the option of purchasing up to three adjoining seats at a heavily discounted rate.
The airline says the new option has been introduced to meet the needs of passengers seeking “extra privacy and space” while flying during the pandemic.
Empty seats will only be offered for purchase at the airport check-in counter prior to departure, with costs ranging from AED 200 to AED 600 (£39 to £117) per empty seat, plus taxes.
Poll: Do you think vaccine passports are a good idea?
Comment: ‘I am prepared to swap my privacy for the freedom to travel once more’
We readily give up our private data on a daily basis so if a vaccine passport helps everything get back to normal then so be it, says Suzanne Moore.
I long to travel even though I think the world will never return to the “before times”. Because of this not only do I want a vaccine passport, I want everyone else to have one too. Before, I thought my freedom could be curtailed by the state having too much information about me, now I will happily give it, just as I give my blood to be analysed for the medical trial I am currently on. If that means everyone knows where I am and where I am going, then so be it. I will swap my privacy for the privilege of seeing more of the big wide world. For me, that’s a freedom too precious to lose.
Read the full story
Thailand’s travel industry lobbies for July 1 reopening
Major tour operators and hoteliers in Thailand have launched a campaign to reopen the country’s borders from July 1.
The Open Thailand Safely petition is backed by 15 leading players, including Capella hotels and the Minor Group, and argues that the beginning of July is the appropriate date to reopen given that the majority of travellers from key markets, such as Europe and the US, will be vaccinated by then.
The campaign is keen to confirm the date now to give both holidaymakers, hotels and travel companies time to plan.
Under the plans, travellers could be asked to show proof of Covid vaccination and/or a recent negative test result.
Anyone can sign the petition for Thailand to reopen on July 1 at OpenThailandSafely.org.
Prof Van-Tam: ‘Great uncertainty’ about overseas holidays
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said we are in “a zone of great uncertainty” when asked if there was any chance of foreign summer holidays at the Downing Street press conference last night.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer said European countries are running behind the UK in their vaccination programmes.
A lot will depend on what policies they impose, so there is “great uncertainty” about what will be possible, he added.
Vast mausoleum of the Roman emperor Augustus reopens after decades of neglect
Still imposing after 2,000 years, a vast funerary monument that was once the resting place of Rome’s emperors is to reopen to visitors today after a €12 million restoration, reports Nick Squires.
It has taken five years to restore and make safe the Mausoleum of Augustus, a fortress-like tomb for the one of the greatest of all Roman emperors, as well as his successors.
It is a place that, despite being right in the heart of the capital and just a stone’s throw from busy shopping streets, restaurants and hotels, has rarely been open to Romans during the last 80 years. Over the centuries the monument was used as a fortress, a bull-fighting arena and a concert hall.
Read the full story.
Israel trials swapping hotel quarantine for tracking devices
Israelis returning home from abroad can now choose to swap two weeks in hotel quarantine for a bracelet that monitors their every move.
The pilot scheme began yesterday with 100 tracking systems available at Ben Gurion airport, where few flights are arriving due to severe travel restrictions.
All arriving passengers have previously been forced to self-isolate at hotels (paid for by the government) in an attempt to stop new Covid variants from spreading in the country.
The new system – which includes an electronic bracelet, a smartphone and a wall-mounted tracker – allows travellers to quarantine at home, notifying authorities if someone removes the bracelet or strays too far from the home monitor.
Download Festival cancelled for second year due to Covid
The organisers of the heavy metal-focused festival, which was due to take place in early June, said they had realised it was “not possible” to make the event happen due to ongoing restrictions.
The move follows the cancellation of other high-profile festivals, most notably Glastonbury, which was scheduled for the end of June. However, a number of other UK festivals, including Reading/Leeds Festival and Camp Bestival, both in August, are aiming to go ahead as planned.
The Government’s roadmap out of lockdown sets June 21 as the date that all legal limits on social interaction will be lifted, after which point large gatherings should be able to take place.
‘We need to move away from the obsession of each variant’, says Oxford Vaccine group prof
Professor Andrew Pollard of the Oxford Vaccine group has said we need to trust in the effectiveness of the jab instead of worrying about new variants.
He told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “To some extent we’ve got to move away from the obsession of each variant as it appears.”
The expert said work is underway to see if one tweak to the vaccine could be effective against both the South African and Brazilian variants due to them being similar.
The focus on potential new variants imported from abroad has led to fears from the travel industry that overseas holidays could be curtailed long after the virus is under control in the UK.
What happened yesterday?
A recap of the main headlines:
- What you need to know about the Brazilian variant
- ‘There is no logic behind keeping campsites closed until May 17’
- Yvette Cooper calls for testing arrivals coming into the UK
- One third of Europeans hopeful of a summer holiday
- Vaccine passports possible for Britons, says Brussels
- Barbados vaccine roll-out continues apace
Now on with today’s travel news.