Travel news latest: England’s tourist attractions see 65 per cent drop in visitors

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England’s tourist attractions saw a 65 per cent drop in visitor numbers in 2020 compared to 2019, leading to a 55 per cent decline in revenue, new figures reveal. 

The fall in visitors last year, driven by site closures resulting from lockdowns and Covid restrictions, was most significant at museums and galleries, historic properties and places of worship, according to Visit England’s annual  survey. Many of these rely on overseas visitors. 

The Tower of London, which had been the most visited attraction since 2009, saw an 85 per cent drop in visitors and has fallen to 10th place in the ranking of the most popular spots. 

Andrew Stokes, director of Visit England, said: “These statistics are a stark demonstration of the impact on England’s visitor attractions which, even when they began to reopen last summer, had to operate with much reduced capacity before further lockdowns.”

London tourists were hit hardest as they rely most on international tourists, and overseas travel to and from the UK was severely restricted for much of 2020 – there was a 77 per cent overall decline in visitors. 

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

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When New Zealand could reopen its borders

The country’s ‘goal’ is quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated arrivals – but currently, only a tiny minority may enter the country, writes Hazel Plush

new zealand

A look at when New Zealand might reopen for international tourism, and which nationalities could be allowed to travel there first

Credit:
Westend61/Getty

‘It’s not my job’: A cafe owner’s revolt against France’s health pass rules

In a rural corner of western France, cafe owner Denis Coursol refuses to check his customers carry a COVID-19 health pass, an act of rebellion against legislation that risks the temporary shutdown of his business and even jail time.

Coursol, 62, is not against the vaccine – he and his two employees have received their shots. But he is adamant it is not his job to police his patrons.

“My problem is not the health pass. My problem is being asked to check for it,” said Coursol, taking a break from picking his way amongst his dogs as he served beer to outdoor tables at his Theodore Cafe.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has imposed the strictest health pass rules in Europe. The pass – proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test – has to be shown to eat in a restaurant, drink in a bar, access non-emergency treatment in a hospital or travel on an intercity train.

What booster jabs and expiring vaccine certificates will mean for travellers

Added restrictions on travel freedoms could mean holidaymakers are set for another year of shifting rules and tests, writes my colleague Emma Beaumont.

Last weekend, a UK Government source warned that Britons who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine may no longer be considered ‘fully jabbed’ and exempt from quarantine once the booster roll-out has begun. The leak, who is reportedly close to talks about Covid certification, told The Mail on Sunday: “The assumption is that you will be required to have the most up-to-date health passport.

“So if the advice is to have a booster six months after your second jab, then that is what you’ll need.”

Following the revelations, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said: ‘If I were the Government I would tread carefully on this. 

“Booster jabs will take a while to get to the majority of the travelling public. And there are issues around whether they are necessary – some scientists say that they may not be necessary.”

Whether or not the Government brings back restrictions for double-jabbed travellers, other countries could easily change their policies in the face of dropping efficacy and need for booster shots. Already, Austria has quietly announced it won’t accept vaccine certificates from UK travellers who received their second doses more than 270 days earlier, meaning that passes for the few who were fully vaccinated in January will expire in October.

Read the full story.

Singapore to start gradual easing of border restrictions

Singapore will allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travelers from Germany and Brunei from next month, its aviation regulator said on Thursday, as part of a plan to reopen its borders cautiously.

Border restrictions will also be progressively eased for all travel from Hong Kong and Macau from Aug. 21, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said

A holiday experience to remember

A lion sanctuary has come up with a new way to get up close and personal with the big cats by placing the visitors in cages.

The GG lion sanctuary in Harrismith, South Africa, allows visitors to stand within a photography cage to see the stunning African lions in a safe and humane way.

Photographer and director of the non-profit company, Suzanne Scott, 53, shared the pictures showing animal enthusiasts meeting the lions.

She said: “We have been offering this experience for almost two years now and the safety of both our guests and big cats is top priority”.

lion

You’ll need to be lion-hearted to give this a try

Credit:
@ggconservation / CATERS NEWS

Support the inbound tourism industry, trade body tells Chancellor

“Businesses that sustain the UK’s fifth largest export industry, inbound tourism, have only just managed to survive the last 19 months,” Joss Croft, the chief executive of UKinbound, said today. 

UKinbound, the trade association that represents the UK’s inbound tourism industry, has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak with two key requests for more Government support: 

  • Extend furlough until end of April 2022 – specifically for the UK’s tourism industry
  • Create the Tourism Export Recovery Fund (TERF) – a £45 million fund to secure £28.4 billion of exports. 

In its letter to the Chancellor, the association said that since April 12 most sectors across the UK were able to start trading again and are now already four months into their recovery.

It added that the first meaningful reopening of international travel was August 2 (when self-isolation rules were dropped for fully vaccinated arrivals from Europe and the US), “by which time the vast majority of international tourists had already opted to cancel their summer holidays to the UK, due to a lack of clarity and ever-changing entry requirements”.

Hurricane Grace makes landfall along Eastern Yucatan Peninsula

Category 1 hurricane Grace made landfall along the eastern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, near Tulum, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory on Thursday.

Grace is now located about 10 miles (15 km) south of Tulum, packing maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), the Miami-based weather forecaster said.

‘Why I went on honeymoon to St Lucia without my fiancé’

Katie Glass took her ‘head bridesman’, who happens to be a TV personality, on holiday in place of her ex and found the true meaning of love.

rob and katie

Katie took her best friend Rob Rinder on the holiday that would’ve been her honeymoon

I was supposed to be married, but during lockdown we separated. As anxiety and pressure folded in on us, my ex and I found we couldn’t cope – with working from home, vulnerable family members, the loss of our freedom and friends. Rather than coming together in distress, lockdown ripped us apart. Screaming matches became vicious rows. We shouted painful truths from which there was no going back. Within months, we turned from a couple lying in bed planning our honeymoon, to hardly being on speaking terms.

When I eventually walked out on my fiancé, I left our plans in ashes – the wedding, the baby we were trying for, the home we were building. The honeymoon was the least of my concerns.

It was the Sex and the City film that gave me a funny idea. What if instead of taking the honeymoon I’d planned, I took my “head bridesman” – who just so happens to be TV’s Judge Rob Rinder.

Read the full story.

France adds Morocco and Algeria to list of high-risk Covid-19 countries

France has added Algeria and Morocco to its list of countries deemed high-risk Covid-19 zones.

The new measure, which will take effect on Saturday, means people arriving from the two African countries will have to undergo strict protocol measures, such as self-isolating.

Canadian airline to mandate Covid vaccinations or tests for staff

Porter will be the first airline in Canada to require its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or to present a negative test result. 

The rule will come into force from September when the carrier is due to resume flights after remaining grounded for nearly 18 months. 

It has attempted to restart operations several times over the last few months but abandoned them due to market conditions fuelled by travel ongoing restrictions. The Toronto based airline says to will restart its US routes on September 17.

Nicole Kidman gets quarantine exemption by Hong Kong for TV series

Hong Kong’s decision to grant Hollywood star Nicole Kidman a quarantine exemption as she films an Amazon-funded series about the lives of wealthy expats has sparked public anger.

The Chinese financial hub maintains some of the strictest quarantine measures in the world, an approach that has kept virus cases low but left most residents cut off from overseas loved ones for the last 18 months.

Arrivals from high-risk countries have to stay in hotel quarantine for 21 days, while lower-risk countries have seven days hotel quarantine followed by a further seven days of self-monitoring.But Ms Kidman, 54, has been allowed to circumvent those rules.

Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau confirmed the Australian actress and other film crew had been granted an exemption “to carry out designated professional work”.

A popular support group on Facebook for people quarantining in Hong Kong also filled with angry comments about how many local and foreign residents have been unable to see relatives overseas for nearly two years because of the rules.

A view from China

China may be off the travel map for Britons, but the country’s domestic travellers can enjoy tourists spectacles such as this 3D light show at the Huangguoshu Waterfall in Anshun, Guizhou Province of China.

Light Show At Huangguoshu Waterfall In Anshun


Credit:
China News Service/Getty

light show


Credit:
China News Service/Getty

Dropping winds raise hopes French Riviera fire can be contained

Dropping winds and cooler temperatures raised hopes Thursday that France’s worst summer wildfire could be contained, as firefighters entered a fourth day of battling a blaze that has killed at least two people.

The fire started on Monday evening at a motorway stop in the south of France with flames ripping through the arid Plaine des Maures nature reserve towards the glitzy Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez.

More than 1,000 firefighters have been in action, using helicopters and water-dropping Canadair aircraft, while 10,000 residents and holidaymakers have been evacuated in the area.

“The fire is still not contained, but we’re counting on the conditions today to be able to announce it when we are completely sure,” said fire chief Loic Lambert.

Abu Dhabi to end partial lockdown

Abu Dhabi will today end a partial lockdown imposed last month as part of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 variants, the government’s media office said in a Twitter post.

It cited the Abu Dhabi Emergency Crisis and Disasters Committee as saying restrictions on movement of traffic and the public from midnight until 5am are ending after achieving their objective.

The United Arab Emirates, including Abu Dhabi, were moved from the England’s travel red list to the amber list on August 8.

Australians evacuated from Bali on government flight

Hundreds of Australian nationals were repatriated on a government flight from the Indonesian island of Bali on Wednesday as Covid-19 continues to ravage the Southeast Asian nation.

“This flight has been arranged to enable vulnerable Australians, whose flights have been canceled or where transit options are no longer available, to return to Australia,” Anthea Griffin, the Australian Consul-General, said in a statement. 

About 180 Australians were reported to have boarded the Qantas Airways flight, the first commercial repatriation flight for Australians who have struggled to return home from virus-hit Indonesia. Hundreds more are said to have applied but did not secure a seat.

In recent months, Indonesia has been hit by a terrifying wave of Covid-19 cases, which has been fueled by the Delta variant and strained the healthcare system. At least 117,000 have been killed by the virus.

Bali, a popular island with foreign tourists, is experiencing its most serious outbreak, with news of 734 new cases and 66 deaths recorded in the province on Wednesday striking a further blow to its bid to reopen to travellers in the autumn.

bali

Australian citizens line up as they wait for a repatriation flight at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia

Credit:
MADE NAGI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Eurostar adds more high speed services to Europe

Eurostar has added more trains to Europe in August and September as relaxed rules for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK led to a boost in demand.

The busiest days for travel are between August 27 and 30, with Paris the most popular destination from the UK, according to the operator.

The updated timetable includes:

  • 39 extra trains between the UK and the continent in August
  • From September 6 until November 1, eight daily return services will operate
  • One daily train each way will be extended to Rotterdam and Amsterdam

‘We have all forgotten how to talk about travel’

Travel guilt and Covid small talk has turned us all into travel bores, writes Anna Hart

I used to have a very clear image of the archetypal ‘travel bore’ in mind. They’re recently returned from some perfectly pedestrian destination, perhaps Rome, forcing us to smile and nod as they scroll through holiday snaps on Instagram or Facebook, the 21st century update of a slideshow on an overhead projector. Their commentary is equally mundane and tedious, peppered with meaningless superlatives (“Oh this was the most amazing restaurant where we had a risotto”) with an insistent undercurrent of one-upmanship and travel snobbery (“You haven’t been? You should really go, before the tourists ruin it.”)

Read the full story.

Meet Persephone the ‘world’s first’ robot cave tour guide

Persephone, billed as the world’s first robot used as a tour guide inside a cave, has been welcoming visitors to the Alistrati cave, since mid-July. 

Alistrati cave is about 135 kilometers (84 miles) northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece. 

persephone


Credit:
Giannis Papanikos/AP

persephone


Credit:
Giannis Papanikos/AP

Tourists flee as hurricane set to hit Mexico twice

Hurricane race is expected to reach Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Thursday morning, the US National Hurricane Center has said. 

The storm has winds of 80 mph and Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and parts of the Yucatan Peninsula could get inches of rain that may lead to flash flooding. 

Tourists were pictured waiting to leave Cancun airport ahead of the storm’s arrival.

cancun

Tourists wait to depart from Cancun’s international airport before the arrival of Hurricane Grace in Cancun, Mexico

Credit:
STRINGER/Reuters

Which? poll leads to row over the definition of package holiday

A new survey by consumer group Which? claimed only half of Ryanair and Teletext customers who had packages cancelled during the pandemic would book with the companies again. However, Ryanair has denied that these are package holidays. 

A Ryanair spokesperson said: 

This is yet more ‘fake news’ from Which?.

Ryanair does not market or sell package holidays and if misguided or mythical Which? survey participants claim that they will not book non-existent packages with us then this devastating news will not cost us a penny since we don’t sell any package holidays to Which?’s mythical or deluded survey participants.

Which? said it asked more than 4,000 people who had a package that was unable to go ahead between March 2020 and February 2021 to say whether they would book with the same company again in the future and why.

Overall, 70 per cent said they would book with the same company again, but there were differences between companies. 

Some 63 per cent of Ryanair’s ‘package holiday’ customers who said they wouldn’t book with the company again said that it was because they no longer trust the company, while more than three quarters of Love Holidays’ customers 77 per cent said the same.

‘Redneck Riviera’ overflowing with tourists – and Covid 

Tourists and servers alike dance atop tables and in the aisles at one restaurant on the “Redneck Riviera,” a beloved stretch of towns along the northern Gulf Coast where beaches, bars and stores are packed.

Yet just a few miles away, a hospital is running out of critical care beds, its rooms full of unvaccinated people fighting for their lives.

On maps that show virus “hotspots” in red, this part of the American coast is glowing like a bad sunburn. And a summer of booming tourism that followed the lockdowns and travel restrictions of 2020 is making the turn toward autumn with only a few signs of slowing down.

Health officials believe the spike is due to a combination of some of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates, unabated tourism, a disregard for basic health precautions and the region’s carefree lifestyle, all combining at a time when the mutated virus is more contagious than ever and conservative states are balking at new health restrictions.

A recap of Wednesday’s travel news

Here’s a reminder of yesterday’s travel headlines: 

  • PCR tests could be replaced with new 10-minute tests at airports
  • Travel test chaos as private labs fail to hand over up to 150,000 results a week
  • Qantas makes vaccination mandatory for all its employees

  • Lake District sees increased erosion as staycations flock to holiday hotspot

  • British Airways resumes flights from London to Dubai

  • Statement: Luton airport queues due to e-gate fault

Now onto today’s news.

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