LOTUS CORONAVIRUS UPDATE (06.08)
BORDERS, TESTING & QUARANTINE
The BBC has reported that a Home Affairs committee has said a lack of border measures earlier in the pandemic was a "serious mistake." The MPs concluded that a requirement for people arriving from certain countries to quarantine, introduced in early June, should have come in earlier.
Ministers had underestimated the threat of importing the virus from Europe as opposed to how Asia tackled the crisis.
In their report, the committee backed a decision not to close the UK's borders in the early stages of the crisis, given the "large number" of returning British nationals.
A Home Office spokeswoman said the committee was "incorrect in their assertions".
She added: "All of our decisions throughout the pandemic have been guided by the science, with appropriate measures introduced at the right time to keep us all safe."
The Daily Telegraph reported that experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the MPs that they calculated up to 10,000 infected people, largely from Spain, France and Italy - including families returning from half-term breaks - imported Covid-19 into the UK.
This was confirmed by Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's Chief Scientific Adviser, who pointed to evidence that hundreds of different strains of Covid-19 were brought into the UK after the Government abandoned special measures for international arrivals on 13 March.
Commenting on the quarantine and border restrictions, travel writer Simon Calder said in the I newspaper at the weekend: “Travel spreads diseases. But it also spreads wealth and happiness at home and abroad. We should all respect the quarantine laws. In return the government must respect the reality that holidays are important – emotionally as well as economically.”
The UK government has announced that entire cities will be tested for Covid to contain local outbreaks using on-the-spot tests that give results in just 90 minutes. To start with, the tests will be routinely used to test staff and patients at care homes and hospitals.
Tests are likely to be used at airports to screen people for Covid as they enter the country and could be used to cut quarantine times.
UNWTO: Travel Restrictions Easing
The “responsible restart of tourism is underway around the world”, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has said. Forty per cent of all destinations have now eased restrictions they'd placed on international tourism in response to the pandemic.
This latest outlook, reports Travel Daily, published this week for the end of July, is up from 22% of destinations that had eased restrictions on travel by 15 June and the 3% previously observed by 15 May. It confirms the trend of a slow but continuous adaptation and responsible restart of international tourism.
At the same time, however, out of the 87 destinations that have now eased travel restrictions, just four have completely lifted all restrictions, while 83 have eased them while keeping some measures such as the partial closure of borders in place. This latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report in addition shows that 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) continue to keep their borders completely closed for tourism.
The UNWTO has estimated that the pandemic has resulted in over £245 billion in lost revenues.
“The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods," said UNWTO general secretary Zurab Pololikashvili.
"As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance.
"This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.”
World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)
According to The Sun, the World Travel & Tourism Council has warned that nearly three million British tourism and travel jobs are on the verge of vanishing. The economy is also close to losing £142 billion from the sector.
ETurbo News also reported that WTTC economic modelling conducted less than two months ago predicted a ‘worse case scenario’ would occur if barriers to global travel, such as quarantine measures and blanket travel restrictions were to remain in place. While some travel bans have been removed, many others remain, with new restrictions likely to come into force to tackle the continuing threat posted by Covid-19 and possible other spikes.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO said, “It’s heartbreaking to see our worst fears for the UK and global Travel & Tourism sector coming true. The jobs and livelihoods of millions of people who work throughout the sector are disappearing by the day, despite our warning this could happen. While we acknowledge the UK government’s efforts to support Travel & Tourism during this crisis, the UK alone looks set to lose three million jobs in the sector, creating an economic black hole of US$186 billion in the country’s finances. This is due to an international failure to implement proper coordination to combat the pandemic.”
“However, we still have time to turn this around if we act together now as one and replace ineffective quarantines with comprehensive rapid testing, a worldwide accepted standard of contact tracing and widespread face mask usage. Employing the latest technology, combined with mass adoption of protective face coverings, will help restore confidence to the traveller,” she added.
CNN says that according to Statista, Mexico is the most vulnerable of the world's largest economies, as 15.5% of its GDP relies on the travel and tourism industry.
The online portal, which provides data on the global digital economy, has compiled a list of those likely to be worst affected based on 2019 figures from the WTTC.
Mexico features at the top of Statista's list, closely followed by Spain and Italy.
Conservative MPs call on German-style tests
Senior Conservative MPs have called on Boris Johnson to introduce German-style tests at airports to replace blanket quarantine or risk being “left behind other nations.”
The MPs including Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Tory backbench committee, and former aviation minister Paul Maynard warn that the aviation industry faces “six-figure” job losses unless the prime minister adopts a “more nuanced” response.
The 20 MPs who have signed a letter also want regional “air bridges” that would connect holidaymakers and business travellers to “low-risk” areas within countries hit by the UK travel ban.
‘EAT OUT TO HELP OUT’
The Government's 'eat out to help out' scheme launched on Monday 3 August offering consumers 50 per cent off their bill for food and soft drinks from Mondays to Wednesdays throughout August at participating restaurants.
The launch day saw pubs and restaurants having their busiest Monday of the year. Data from online payments provider SumUp showed that spending at restaurants and cafes on Monday was 16.4pc higher than the previous week.
Research from YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has suggested consumer confidence has returned for the first time since the country went into lockdown. Confidence rose 1.7 points to 100.8 last month and business activity also continued to rise.
A poll from the Confederation of British Industry has shown two thirds of British businesses say they are now “fully operational” after the coronavirus lockdown, up from half in June. However, it warned that many firms, especially those in consumer-facing sectors, remained in “acute financial distress.” Lack of demand from customers continued to be businesses’ most common challenge to resuming normal operations.
Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)
The Daily Telegraph reports that the services sector reported its strongest growth for five years in July, raising hopes of a 'V-shaped' economic recovery as people start spending again.
Reopening the high street, pubs and restaurants, combined with encouraging more people back to work, helped stimulate a rebound in the UK’s biggest sector, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing managers’ index survey.
The PMI surged from 47.1 in June to 56.5 in July, breaking through the crucial 50 level that divides growth from contraction.
Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee
The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee updated its quarterly projections on Thursday 6 August and revised its forecast for a less severe recession than previously feared, but warned of a surge un unemployment amid an ‘unusually uncertain’ outlook.
The Bank said UK economic output will shrink by 9.5 per cent this year, an improvement on the 14 per cent previously predicted.
However, it warned that unemployment could almost double to 7.5 per cent by the end of 2020, a level that would mean around 2.5 million people are out of work.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to have shrunk by 20 per cent in the second quarter but the Bank said up-to-date indicators such as consumer spending suggest that the recovery has been stronger than it had thought back in May.
The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said it expects the economy to grow by 9 per cent in 2021 – taking it back to pre-pandemic levels – before expanding 3.5 per cent in 2022. This is on the optimistic side of economic forecasters, with many analysts predicting a slower recovery that could take several years.
Its central projection for the economy sees GDP continuing to grow as social distancing eases and consumer spending picks up further. Business investment will also recover but “somewhat more slowly” and unemployment will begin to decline from the start of next year, the Bank said.
The Telegraph published a report on travel insurance companies that provide policies to destinations that the FCO advises against travel to.
“Travelling against official government advice is not illegal, but most tour operators will not offer trips to destinations which the FCO deems unsafe – and most travel insurers won’t provide cover. They listed three travel insurance companies that offered cover at reasonable prices for travellers going to unsafe destinations. These were Travel and General; Battleface (and Campbell Irvine which since the article was published stopped offering the cover).
On Tuesday 4 August, EasyJet published its third quarter trading update and announced that it was increasing the number of flights over the summer following higher passenger demand despite concerns over a new surge of coronavirus infections across Europe.
The airline had expected to operate only 30pc of its normal capacity following the resumption of flights after lockdown, but is now expanding its schedule to 40pc. It carried over 2m passengers in July, with a load factor of 84pc, according to boss John Lundgren.
The Financial Times said that the FTSE 250 group generated just £7m in revenue for the quarter ending on 30 June, a collapse of 99 per cent from the £1.8bn recorded during the same time in 2019. It operated 709 flights compared with 165,656 last year.
EasyJet's chief executive Johan Lundgren reiterated criticisms of the government's "blanket approach" to quarantine arrangements for travellers from countries with high levels of Covid 19.
He said there had been no consultation or dialogue with industry - and his company had had no prior warning of the reintroduction of restrictions on travellers coming from Spain.
The policy, he said, was "not based on a risk approach". Quarantine measures, he argued, should be targeted on a regional basis - for example, allowing travel to and from the Canary Islands and the Balearics to be excluded. There should be more clarity regarding the rules and scientific advice.
Referring to problems customers have had obtaining refunds, he suggested that the sheer volume of cancellations caused by the lockdowns had made it impossible to process them quickly. 250,000 flights were cancelled during the period, when last year, the figure had been just 2,500.
No company or airline, he insisted, would have been able to set themselves up for the scale of what was required.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Lundgren warned that the aviation industry remains in crisis, whilst The Times reported that the airline urged the government to scrap air passenger duty “to support the recovery of UK aviation”.
There were widespread reports of Virgin Atlantic filing for bankruptcy in the USA. The airline is seeking protection from its creditors under Chapter 15 of the US bankruptcy code, which allows a foreign company to shield assets in the country.
Virgin also told the High Court in the UK that that it would run out of money before the end of September unless creditors approve a £1.2 billion rescue deal. Bookings are down 89% year-on-year and current demand for the second half of 2020 is at only a quarter of 2019 levels.
It said that without the refinancing package, which will see founder Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group pump in a further £200 million, the company will run out of cash in the week beginning 21 September.
IAG, owner of BA, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, reported a half-year loss of €3.8 billion on Friday 31 July.
It launched a €2.75 billion emergency fundraising effort with its largest shareholder Qatar Airways, to see it through the Covid-19 pandemic.
IAG Chief Willie Walsh said passenger traffic fell by 98% in the second quarter.
However, the UK quarantine on arrivals from Spain was not hitting UK demand for travel elsewhere in Europe. “We’re adding capacity to Greece because we see good demand.”
British Airways pilots have voted to accept a deal from the airline that will see 270 jobs lost and salaries reduced by 20%.
On Monday 3 August, British Airways’ announced that its all-business class London City-New York service has been scrapped.
About a third of jobs at Edinburgh airport are to be lost in a restructuring process as the airport plans its recovery from Covid-19.
The airline association IATA called for Covid testing of air passengers and state aid for airlines as it pushed back its forecast for a recovery in the demand and pricing of flights to 2024.
IATA described the situation as “grim”, with IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac saying: “There was more flying in June, but we are in a very deep crisis and it does not appear it will end any time soon.”
De Juniac noted: “The improvements have been in domestic markets led by China. US domestic flying is still 80% below a year ago and international demand is still down over 95%.
“Consumer confidence is depressed. In many parts of the world infections are still rising. Most countries are still closed to international arrivals or have imposed quarantines.”
Chief Executive of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye has announced that the airport will be introducing testing at the airport “in the next couple of weeks.”
John Holland-Kaye said the testing could be ‘up and running’ in a fortnight after Boris Johnson warned further European nations could lose their exempted status amid signs of a "second wave" of Covid-19.
Southampton: New Terminal Funding Agreed
TTG reports that Solent Local Enterprise Partnership is to invest £15.9 million in several significant projects including the new terminal in Southampton. Money is coming from the government’s Getting Building Fund for projects that will drive the local economy.
Plans for the fifth terminal go back as far as 2010, but funding now looks to have been agreed for the project.
An outbreak of coronavirus has been reported on board Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen.
Hurtigruten said over the weekend that 36 staff from its MS Roald Amundsen vessel had tested positive for coronavirus, as had four passengers from two separate cruises. Almost 400 passengers from two cruises in July to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard have had to go into quarantine, affecting 69 municipalities throughout Norway and possibly further afield, according to Norwegian health authorities.
The cruise company said it had “uncovered several deviations from procedures” when an outbreak was confirmed on Roald Amundsen and it is launching a full investigation.
In other cruise news:
- A cruise ship owned by Ponant in French Polynesia reported a case of coronavirus onboard and returned to Papeete, Tahiti.
- The SeaDream reported that a passenger tested positive for Covid-19 on an itinerary to Denmark from Tromsø.
- The first overnight cruise in US waters confirmed that a passenger tested positive for Covid-19 on UnCruise Adventures.
- Carnival Corporation’s German brand AIDA Cruises will not set sail this week, as it waits for formal approval from Italy.
- Crystal Cruises has cancelled all its cruises up to the end of the year.
Scottish cruise lines
The Evening Standard reported on the small lines that cruise around the west coast of Scotland with 12 passengers or less, but which are unable to sail at the moment due to government guidance.
European Waterways can operate river cruises from Inverness to Fort William, which takes in Loch Ness, castles and distillery visits, but Majestic Lines’ boats which sail from Oban to islands such as Mull, Islay and St Kilda as well as Hebridean Cruises and St Hilda’s Sea Adventures and Argyll Cruises cannot sail before the end of August.
ABTA Guide for Members
ABTA has produced an online guide of countries exempt from the Foreign Office’s advice against non-essential travel, and a customer information leaflet to help its members navigate ongoing changes. Designed as an ‘easy-to-digest snapshot of the current travel landscape’, it lists exempt countries in alphabetical order, uses six icons to illustrate the entry restrictions, and sets out whether travellers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are exempt from quarantine on return to the UK. It will be continually updated.
The Times reported that tour operators had been concerned by remarks by Downing Street that all travel overseas was a risk but were then buoyed as Britons proved to be undeterred.
TUI, the country’s largest tour operator, said that it would add an extra seven flights this weekend to destinations in Greece and Turkey amid “overwhelming demand.”
However, the UK’s largest tour operator extended its cancellation of holidays to Portugal until at least the end of next week for UK customers and extended the cancellation of all UK holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands until 10 August and all holidays to mainland Spain until 17 August.
TUI said that they “continue to review its holiday programme in line with UK government advice.”
Managing director, Andrew Flintham, said: “We call upon the government to work with the travel industry and remove the ‘blunt tool’ approach to quarantine and consider the rapid introduction of regional travel corridors.”
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays' Greece and Turkey programmes have also been boosted by 30,000 seats with additional flights and larger aircraft after flights were suspended to the Balearic and Canary Islands until 10 August and mainland Spain until 17 August following changes to the FCO advice and quarantine policy.
Despite the FCO saying Brits already in Spain did not need to cut their holidays short, Jet2 has contacted customers to say they need to fly home earlier than planned due to costs of flying empty legs.
Sunvil was also reported as experiencing a growth in enquiries to flight-only bookings to Greece following the change of advice to Spain. Sunvil Holidays managing director Chris Wright said the Greece specialist saw “a significant upswing propelled [by] the Spanish quarantine.”
The Independent reports that Love Holidays and On The Beach are continuing with trips to Spain regardless of the travel advice – and are stopping short of issuing refunds for the air-fare component of the holiday unless and until it is refunded by the carrier.
- Package holidays arranged by online travel agents such as Love Holidays and On The Beach typically include flights on easyJet, Jet2 or Ryanair and separately source accommodation.
- These trips are covered by Package Travel Regulations 2018, which say the customer is entitled to a full refund “in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity” – if those circumstances significantly affect the performance of the package.
The Independent says Love Holidays, in its information to customers, does not mention its obligations under the Package Travel Regulations. The firm says: “Airlines are currently not providing customers with a cash refund option if the flight is going ahead, even if understandably you do not wish to travel due to UK government advice.”
Expedia Group reported losses of $753 million for the three months to June and of more than $2 billion for the first half of the year following “the worst quarter the travel industry has seen”.
On Monday 3 August, Hays Travel announced plans to consult with up to 878 staff who are at risk of redundancy.
The company, famous for re-employing Thomas Cook staff after its failure, is consulting with 344 staff who are training as travel consultants and 534 who work in the foreign exchange division. Experienced travel sales staff, apprentices and other head office staff are not affected and the move will not affect the number of shops in its network.
John and Irene Hays admitted that following the decision to ban travel to Spain and the changes in furlough conditions coming at the same time, they had no choice but to cut staff.
The Hays also defended a June recruitment drive, saying they had been able to “see a way through” the pandemic without losing staff prior to the government’s abrupt change in advice on travel to Spain “triggered the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of holidays”.
Mr and Mrs Hays said in a statement: “We are devastated that after all of our efforts and the huge investment we’ve made we now face losing some of our valued employees, through no fault of their own . . . We will do all we can in consultations to help them.”
If Only Travel Agent Survey
Gordon McCreadie, general manager of If Only, provided details of a travel agent partners survey. Key findings were as follows:
- While there is still some interest around late escapes this autumn and winter, a whopping 85% of agents said the majority of enquiries featured departures for next spring and summer.
- As for destinations, the Caribbean, Mexico and Indian Ocean were named as the most-popular choices by more than 60% of agents.
- More than 50% of agents cited well-known hotel chains as their most-popular property type and 35% observed a switch towards villas.
- Almost 70% of enquiries at present are for couples and just 27% for families.
Business Travel Association
Travel firms are offering to hand dividends to the Exchequer in return for an extension of the government’s furlough scheme until the end of the year. The radical proposals, put forward by the Business Travel Association, are intended to be self-funding and designed to not leave taxpayers out of pocket. Firms will pledge to pay 10% of quarterly dividends to the government until the cost of bankrolling of wages has been repaid.
Travel Weekly reported that the “parachute package” is aimed to help the business travel sector survive the year.
The Business Travel Association wants action to stem the loss of up to 10,000 jobs.
The package asks the government for:
- Financial support to cover 60% of salaries of employees in travel management companies until at least the end of 2020. This will then be repaid by those companies through 10% of profits each quarter.
- A 12-month business rates holiday to provide firms with “vitally needed” liquidity.
- A temporary, 12-month suspension of Air Passenger Duty to provide an immediate stimulus for travel, with premium economy – popular with many cost-conscious business travellers – no longer taxed in the same band as first and business class. And to ‘ringfence’ 50% of the tax to invest in environmental measures such as the development of aviation biofuels when the tax is restored in a year’s time.
- “Targeted and limited government backing for the business travel sector will not only save many jobs in our industry, but underpin one of the vital support pillars for British business as a whole,” said Clive Wratten of the BTA. Sectors such as hospitality have benefited from specific government support measures but the business travel sector has not, despite the industry providing a £220 billion a year contribution to UK GDP, he argued.
Breaking Travel News reported that entertainment giant Disney lost $4.7 billion (£3.6 billion) in the three months to June, as the virus forced it to close theme parks and delay film releases and production. This compares to $1.8 billion profit the company reported in the same period last year.
Disney said its domestic parks and resorts, cruise line business and Disneyland Paris were all closed for all of the three months to June.
Parks in Asia were closed for a portion of the quarter, with Shanghai Disney Resort re-opening in May and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort following in late June.
However, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort closed again in July.
Drayton Manor, in Staffordshire - a family-run theme park hit by Storm Dennis and coronavirus - has been sold after entering administration.
It has been sold to Looping Group, a French group that runs 15 leisure parks in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Portugal including West Midland Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills.
About 600 people were employed at the Staffordshire Park and their jobs have been protected, administrators said.
Hotel giant Accor released its six monthly financial results this week and said that 81 per cent of its hotels were now open and that it had a solid liquidity position of more than £3.6 billion at the end of June, but revenue fell by 52 per cent in the first six months of the 2020 financial year.
In response to the crisis, the biggest hotel group in Europe plans to cut 1,000 jobs as part of a £180 million per year cost saving plan.
Accor hopes to reduce costs by 17 per cent compared with 2019.
Sébastien Bazin, chief executive of Accor, said: “The peak of the crisis is undoubtedly behind us, but the recovery will be gradual.”
Since the beginning of August, the UK media has been reporting on a series of spikes in Covid infections across Europe. Increases have been recorded in countries including Spain, Germany, Greece, Finland and France.
A senior World Health Organization (WHO) expert has said some countries are seeing a higher proportion of new coronavirus infections among young people than during the earlier stage of the pandemic.
Town & country divide
There is a town and country divide in Britain, reports The Guardian. Up to half of campsites are already fully booked throughout August while city hotels stand three-quarters emptier than last year.
Data for several thousand hotels, by industry analysts STR, suggests those that have reopened in London are 76% less occupied than this time last year, with that figure rising to 77% in Edinburgh and standing at 69% in Manchester. On average, open hotels in those cities were just under a quarter full (24%) between 1-18 July.
In comparison, Devon and Cornwall hotel occupancy was at 64% in that period, the data suggests; with that figure 63% in the Lake District and 56% in Bournemouth – where police had to establish cordons to manage a surge of tourists at the weekend.
“The UK is not alone in this pattern of stronger demand for regional destinations. We have seen this occur across the globe as countries begin to see demand slowly returning to the hospitality sector,” said the STR director Thomas Emanuel, adding that it would take “multiple years” for urban demand to return to 2019 levels.
Managing director Marcello Distefano has said that people who would have spent money going abroad are instead using the extra cash to eat out at restaurants.
Lack of foreign visitors
The Sunday Times reports that the Lake District is struggling with a lack of foreign visitors - while British tourists are starting to return and hotel and camping occupancy is high, they're reluctant to spend time or money indoors compared to foreign visitors who have been put off coming to UK due to negative press.
Soaring temperatures and a boom in staycations have seen Cornish lifeguards dealing with the busiest beaches "ever seen" as they describe every day as being like a bank holiday.
The population of the south Devon town Salcombe has surged by 1,000 per cent thanks to British tourists, reports The Telegraph, but its mayor has asked visitors to think about social distancing and “show a bit of respect”.
“It's like August bank holiday weekend every day, everybody is exhausted and overwhelmed. The businesses need the customers but we would just like a bit of respect back for the town that they claim to love.”
Wild campers leave rubbish
Farmers from the Lake District to North Wales have reported cases of amateur ‘wild campers’ leaving festival-style mess and litter in the middle of fields, abandoned tents on the side of mountains, and lighting open campfires in irresponsible places. On Wednesday, Dartmoor has temporarily banned wild camping.
Mountain rescue teams are also struggling with increased calls and a canal boat operator reported increased bookings of 150%.
On Tuesday, the Irish Government decided not to move to Phase 4 of its Covid-19 recovery plan, meaning pubs and hotel bars remain closed.
On Monday 3 August, Wales took the next step to ease its lockdown. Groups of up to 30 people can now meet outdoors and young children will be able to play with their friends for the first time since lockdown. Pubs, cafes and restaurants will also be able to serve people indoors. But Wales delayed any further loosening of restrictions to ensure schools reopen in September.
- Last week the Catalan government eased restrictions in Barcelona and Lleida and gyms and cinemas were able to open in both areas. The authorities reported that lockdown measures over the previous 15 days had worked. But Madrid capped outside meetings at ten due to a surge in infections in the capital.
- Spanish tourism officials have continued to lobby the UK for a more nuanced approach to FCO advice and air corridors. Lanzarote Minister of Tourism Promotion, Ángel Vazquez, said he remains perplexed by the UK move to again place Spain on the do-not-travel list. On the online media platform Travelmole, Vazquez said data published last week showed the Canary Islands has an accumulated infection rate of 2.41 per 100,000 people.
- El Pais reports that between April and June, the Spanish economy sank an unprecedented 18.5%, according to a flash estimate provided by the National Statistics Institute (INE) on Friday. This comes on top of a 5.2% contraction in the first three months of the year, reflecting the fact that the country went into lockdown in mid-March. The coronavirus confinement measures were lifted in mid-June.
The figures in Spain are worse than in other developed economies. Germany’s economy shrank 10.1% in the first quarter; the United States contracted by 9.5%, and France shed 13.8%.
This is because Spain was forced to adopt stricter containment measures than other countries; the Spanish economy is more dependent on tourism – which contributes 12.3% to GDP.
- The Financial Times outlined issues faced by tourism regions such as Costa Del Sol. Alongside the UK’s restrictions, Norway has also re-imposed quarantine on arrivals from Spain, while France and Germany have warned citizens to avoid virus hotspots in the north such as Catalonia and Aragon. The new travel restrictions are also in some of its most important markets: the UK provided 18.1m of Spain's 83.7m foreign tourists last year and France and Germany each accounted for 11.2m. Marta Blanco, president of the tourism council of Spain’s CEOE employers’ organisation said: “quarantine has a huge impact on confidence, and confidence is vital.”
- In The Sunday Times, Jenny Coad commented on how confusing current travel rules are and reflects on huge variations of cases in different regions of Spain. She asks why the UK government can't be more nimble, particularly when decisions such as these have huge economic impact now Spain has entered its steepest recession since civil war.
- The Observer reports from Barcelona where 19.3 million foreign visitors were welcomed in 2019. In Barcelona, much economic activity has simply stopped. Only around a fifth of hotels have reopened since the lockdown ended in June, and a number of those are expected to close in the wake of the UK announcement.
- Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, who helps lead the WHO’s pandemic response team as the head of the emerging diseases unit, has urged countries not to return to the “blunt, sheer force instrument” of national lockdowns due to the “massive” economic, social and health repercussions.
Masks are required outside. Whilst visitors can return to the UK without quarantine, Covid cases have risen by 54% in the past week. France’s own top scientific body said it could lose control of its coronavirus outbreak at any time.
Italy has emerged as one of the continent’s safest spots, says The Telegraph. Covid cases in the mountains of the north, and the southern regions are particularly low, but cases have risen over the past week. Currently, Italy is quarantine-free for returning travellers to the UK.
On Monday 3 August, Portugal’s Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE) released tourism numbers, reports The Telegraph.
- The number of overnight stays by foreign tourists in June fell 96 per cent compared to last year.
- The total number of guests, including domestic travellers, fell nearly 82 per cent in June to just over 500,000 people, a slight improvement from a drop of over 94 per cent in May.
- In June around 45 per cent of tourist accommodation establishments were shut or had no guests.
- Overnight stays by Britons, one of the country's biggest foreign markets, fell over 98 per cent in June compared to the same period in 2019, followed by a massive drop in the German and Spanish markets, decreasing 95.1 per cent and 93.3 per cent respectively.
Luxembourg was put back onto the Foreign Office’s list of countries to which it advises against all non-essential travel on Thursday evening, after a sharp rise in infections.
The Telegraph reports that numbers in the streets of Amsterdam are 60 per cent of their pre-Covid levels. The largest proportion of visitors are assessed as being young people arriving across the borders by car to party, day-trippers to shop and staycationers weary of lockdown.
While many parts of town (such as museums) remain quiet, some quarters – the Dam (Amsterdam’s main city square), the Red Light District, Kalverstraat shopping street, and nightlife hotspots around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein have become too crowded for comfort, especially over weekends and there is concern about the potential for growing infection rates.
Currently NL is quarantine-free to returning travellers to the UK.
Germany is contending with a second wave of the coronavirus and risks squandering its early success by flouting social distancing rules, the head of the German doctors' union was reported as saying in The Daily Telegraph.
The I newspaper reports that Berlin’s Tegel airport began large-scale coronavirus testing on Wednesday, as airports across Germany prepared for the advent of free, compulsory testing for many passengers from next week.
Currently Germany is quarantine-free to returning travellers to the UK.
The Guardian reports that passengers on ferries in Greece will have to wear face masks even on open-air decks. The measure will apply until at least 18 August.
Covid cases in Greece have doubled over the past week from 3.9 cases per 100,000 of population to 7.52. Officials recorded the highest single day spike in weeks at the weekend.
Currently travellers returning to the UK from Greece can do so quarantine-free.
Only 10 per cent of cases in Greece can be traced to foreign arrivals, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
"We have located three sources of concern: very regular crossings from Balkan countries by ethnic Greeks and residence permit holders... social gatherings, including clubbing youths, weddings and baptisms, and public transport."
On the UK government’s ‘green list’ and with no sign of being removed from it. The Telegraph recommends a ‘fly-and-flop’ trip for summer, centred on an all-inclusive hotel, given its strict face mask policy.
Daily cases in Turkey were on the decline throughout July, and have very slightly risen over the last week, with case numbers similar to the UK
Latin America has surpassed Europe to become the region with the highest number of Covid-19 deaths worldwide, according to Reuters.
The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) announces that the 2020 relaunch of its flagship event, LATA Expo (previously Experience Latin America), will be held in a virtual capacity between 19 and 23 October 2020. LATA also reveals that the 2021 edition will take place between 14-16 June 2021 at London’s Battersea Evolution, followed by events the following week in Paris and Amsterdam.
Despite record figures of infection, the government issued a decree reopening the country to foreign visitors arriving by plane, ending a four-month travel ban in hopes of reviving a lockdown-devastated tourism industry.
As a whole, Latin America's biggest economy is facing a record contraction of 9.1 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Marriott International, Inc. on Wednesday 5 August announced that it has signed an agreement with KJP Participaçoes LTD to bring the W Hotels brand to Gramado, a mountain resort town in the Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. The property will be the second W Hotel to open in country and the fourth in the Southern Cone of Latin America.
The Daily Telegraph has published a feature outlining an expert's guide on the Caribbean islands re-opening to tourists. Nineteen Caribbean countries are in travel corridors with the UK.
The Dominican Republic has changed its entry requirements to protect travellers and islanders from Covid-19 transmission. From 1 July, the island’s borders have been open, but from 30 July, the Dominican Republic requires visitors to present a negative Covid-19 test result before being allowed to enter.
Separately, a staff writer from Vogue, has written an in-depth feature on why the island should be on everyone’s planning list for travel. The Telegraph feature outlined the increasing number of high-end boutique hotels.
The island was officially declared ‘Covid-free’ on 30 June and launched the Barbados Welcome Stamp (BWS), which allows foreigners to live and work there visa-free for a year, provided visitors prove they have an annual income of at least $50,000.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the first British tourists to visit Antigua since the pandemic began to arrive on the island on Saturday – and ‘could be on the beach within 70 minutes of landing.’ It was one of the first countries in the region to re-open its borders.
All visitors are required to present evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than seven days before departure, but some arrivals may require additional testing.
On Saturday, the first flight from the UK to the Caribbean island arrived from London Gatwick. Operated by British Airways, it was fully booked.
- US officials said that shutting down bars in Los Angeles last month has begun to drive down the number of severe coronavirus cases in California, the first state to register half a million infections.
- 82.1% of reporting US companies have surpassed profit expectations during the second quarter despite the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic. The results bolster the case for investors betting that the impact of coronavirus-led lockdowns and layoffs on companies’ bottom lines may not be quite as dire as previously believed.
Travellers arriving from a select group of countries in Singapore from 11 August will be required to wear electronic monitoring devices to ensure they are complying with quarantine restrictions, the city state’s government has announced. This will allow them to isolate at home rather than in a government facility and will be part of the measures to open the country’s borders.
Vietnam is fighting several new clusters of infection linked to the beach-side city of Danang, which is popular with tourists, after going more than three months without detecting any domestic transmission.
Last week the city imposed a lockdown on the 1.1 million residents. The country has previously been praised for its fast-action in tackling the spread of the virus, and with a low-level of deaths – only six for its 96 million population.
On Sunday 2 August, the Australian state of Victoria declared a state of disaster, reported the BBC, and imposed new lockdown measures after a surge in coronavirus infections, despite early success in preventing infection spread.
The state - Australia's second most populous - now accounts for many of the country's new infections in recent weeks, prompting the return of lockdown restrictions in early July. The new rules will remain in place until at least 13 September.
The Telegraph speculated that Australia might be one of the last places to open its borders to foreign tourists and Qantas recently pulled all flight sales until 28 March 2021, with the exception of routes to New Zealand. However, the PM of New Zealand said that any country they have an air corridor with has to be free of community transmission for a period of 28 days. “It is going to take a long time for Australia to get back to that place,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Nepal is opening its Himalayan peaks for the autumn climbing season beginning in September.