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Travel news latest: Up to 90 per cent of UK summer holiday options sold out

Britons will find fewer than one in 10 UK self-catering holiday options available across some operators this summer as the nation prepares for a post-lockdown staycation boom. 

Just 8 per cent of school summer holiday dates are still available for properties advertised by Oliver’s Travels.  Self-catering property agency Unique Homestays also said 92 per cent of its available dates have been booked up for the summer months.

Meanwhile, the number of August reservations taken by luxury camping specialist Canopy & Stars are up 185 per cent compared with March 2019. Around 30 per cent of its total guest capacity remains for August. 

“Despite record levels of bookings, there is still a chance to book a summer staycation if you are quick and can be flexible with dates and area,” said Mike Bevens, managing director of Canopy & Stars. “Keep an eye out for new places too, we have several brand new places lined up to join our collection in the coming weeks,” he added. 

British families are snapping up domestic breaks following the publication of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, under which leisure travel is set to resume in England on April 12. 

International travel will not return until May 17, at the earliest, and foreign holidays are likely to come with the additional hurdles of Covid testing and potential quarantine – and, possibly, vaccine passports

Scroll down for the latest updates.

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11:44AM

EU-wide ‘vaccine passports’ at risk

European Union coronavirus passports could be put at risk if member states continue to break away from the bloc’s vaccines strategy by buying Russian and Chinese vaccines, officials have warned. 

Brussels is set to propose legislation to create an EU-wide Digital Green Pass on March 17. The vaccine certificate will be the first step towards an eventual passport that could help save Europe’s summer season and would be open to tourists from the UK and other non-EU countries. 

But those hopes could be dashed because more and more countries are buying jabs outside of the EU joint procurement scheme and authorising vaccines at national level that have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Read the full story from James Crisp and Nick Squires, here.

11:33AM

Thatched cottages and country houses: summer availability with Unique Homestays

Unique Homestays is among the UK accommodation providers reporting a surge in bookings this summer. A spokesperson for the company said:

[We have] seen demand for summer getaways more than double as a result of the pandemic. Prior to Covid-19 restrictions, in March 2019 the company had confirmed 30 per cent of their total availability for the summer season ahead. Fast forward to March 2021, however, and Unique Homestays only have 8 per cent occupancy remaining for the summer months, with 92 per cent of all available dates now booked. Following the latest government announcement on domestic holidays resuming as early as April 12, the nation’s fight to secure the last few remaining dates is now on.

There are still some properties with availability in July and August. Here are some of the best: 

The Riddle North Bovey, Dartmoor, Devon

Escape to an idyllic north Devon village, set within Dartmoor National Park. A thatched roof, twinkling chandeliers and a pillar box red Aga gives this cottage a storybook-feel. Underfloor heating in the bathroom and kitchen will ensure you stay toasty during our variable British summer. Sleeps four, from £1,495 per week, £1,095 per short break. See link here.

The Riddle North Bovey, Dartmoor, Devon   

The Riddle North Bovey, Dartmoor, Devon   

Rhapsody Haslemere, Surrey

Head to this property to find surreal garden sculptures and topsy-turvy architecture in the Surrey countryside. It has an outdoor heated swimming pool, yoga hut and sunken hot tub. Sleeps 12 (10 adults and two children), from £18,750 per week. See link here.

Romany Romney Marsh, Brookland, Kent

An ideal couples retreat, this bright, secluded cabin comes with a hot tub and fire pit. Animal lovers will enjoy the pair of Tonkinese cats who live nearby and often drop by the garden. You can even bring a (well-behaved) dog along for a stay. A roll-top bath and welcome hamper are among the indulgent touches. Sleeps two, from £1,095 per week, £850 per short break. See link here.

11:15AM

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak must address ‘most egregious’ air travel tax, says Ryanair boss 

Rishi Sunak has “done nothing” on Air Passenger Duty [APD], “the most egregious tax on air travel”, Ryanair’s chief executive has claimed.

Michael O’Leary called for the Chancellor to roll out more support for the industry in today’s Budget, as he appeared before the transport select committee. 

He said: “Where I will be most critical of the UK Government is the one lever they have at their disposal – and that is this ridiculous APD tax of £22 per departing passenger – no effort has been made by the Government to roll that back, reduce it temporarily, or in fact what we would call for, abandon it altogether, at least until traffic at UK airports recovers to pre-pandemic levels.”

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has spoken out ahead of the Budget

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has spoken out ahead of the Budget

He added: “Rishi Sunak has done nothing about APD, which is the most egregious tax on air travel, because it is regressive and it hits the poorest people hardest. So there’s much more to be done on Government support.

“The furlough scheme falls short of what needs to be done and it will be a very challenging and difficult return to normal operation or pre-Covid operation levels and profitability.”

11:08AM

UK tourism sector hopes for support in the Budget

Merilee Karr, Chair of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, said:

“The Chancellor needs to make sure that his new £5bn restart grant scheme is open to all businesses in the hospitality industry, specifically the self-catering accommodation sector. This means they must be eligible for grant funding and treated on the same footing as other accommodation providers such as hotels, and not omitted based on hospitality and retail business rates classifications.”

11:04AM

Which is the perfect Greek island?

You might not want to book just yet, but hopes are high that Greece could be one of our overseas holiday options this summer. Why? Because it has been vocal in its support for restarting tourism, a vital component of its economy, by letting vaccinated arrivals skip quarantine, and other sunseekers visit if they have tested negative. 

Best for beaches? Zakynthos is our pick

Best for beaches? Zakynthos is our pick

Credit:
Getty

A Greek island holiday sounds like just the tonic after the bleakest of winters. Who could possibly turn down a week or two of reliable sunshine, and simple but delicious food served in rustic seaside tavernas? To help you start planning your perfect escape, here are 15 of our favourite options. 

Read the full feature, here.

11:00AM

The last holidays on the shelf: Landmark Trust  

The Landmark Trust has 198 historic properties on its books. An August 2 arrival date, however, returns just seven results, or 3.5% of its portfolio – and only three of them are in the UK (the other four are in Italy). Act fast, says Oliver Smith

The Warren House in Kimbolton

The Warren House in Kimbolton

The options are: Lynch Lodge, near Peterborough, a two-storey Jacobean porch salvaged from a great house once beloved of the poet and playwright John Dryden (sleeps two; four nights for £700); The Warren House in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, a 17th-century former home to the warrener of a country estate (sleeps two; four nights for £763); Collegehill House, a stone’s throw from Rosslyn Chapel, of Da Vinci Code fame, whose former guests include Queen Victoria and William Wordsworth (sleeps six; four nights for £1,008).

10:46AM

May holiday bookings up 613pc compared with 2019, says Awaze UK  

May is proving the most popular month so far for Awaze UK, which includes holiday brands such as Hoseasons and cottages.com. Reservations for UK breaks in May – keeping in mind that there are bank holidays on May 3 and May 31 – are up 613 per cent compared with 2019. 

The school summer holidays are also proving popular: cottages.com has seen summer bookings up 71 per cent for over the six-week break, compared with 2019 Lodge specialist Hoseasons has seen bookings up 26 per cent for peak summer weeks, compared with 2019.

Devon bookings are booming

Devon bookings are booming

Credit:
Getty

A spokesperson for Awaze said:

“Awaze bookings for Cornwall and Devon combined are significantly up every month this year from April onwards compared to the corresponding month in 2019.  May is proving particularly popular at the moment, with bookings up a huge 613 per cent on where they were this time two years ago as holidaymakers look to get away as early as possible and enjoy a much-needed staycation.”

10:39AM

We have built a secret staycation algorithm

Combine maths and machine learning to bag the truly secret hotel on the totally hidden beach in the yet to be discovered corner of the UK.

(Keep it schtum.)

10:29AM

Which countries are on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel?

Here’s a look at the 33 countries on the UK’s ‘red list’. Arrivals from these countries will need to enter a quarantine hotel for 10 days. 

10:14AM

P&O pledges “a proper summer holiday at sea”

P&O Cruises have unveiled a plan to give people “a proper summer holiday at sea” with a series of short cruises around the UK this summer, reports Benjamin Parker.

The line is yet to announce dates of the sailings or the itineraries but the decision means that previously planned cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura have been cancelled until the end of August, as well as voyages and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Following recent Government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end. Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.

This could be you...

This could be you…

Credit:
Getty

“Whilst holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.

“These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine. More details of dates, prices and the experience on board will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence.”

However, the cruises are subject to official travel advice changing over the coming months. Even before the current lockdown the Foreign Office advised British nationals against travel on sea-going cruise ships. Mr Ludlow said that P&O Cruises remains “in very close contact with the UK Government and associated bodies”.

10:06AM

Pontins used blacklist of Irish surnames to bar Gypsy and Traveller families from holiday parks

Pontins has admitted operating a blacklist of Irish surnames to exclude Gypsy and Traveller families from its holiday parks.

Families with surnames such as Boyle, Connors, Delaney, Dogherty, Murphy and O’Reilly were told by staff there were no slots available if they tried to book.

The list was headed with a cartoon of the wizard Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and the words 'You Shall Not Pass' 

The list was headed with a cartoon of the wizard Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and the words ‘You Shall Not Pass’

The blacklist of mainly Irish surnames, drawn up under the heading “Undesirable Guests”, was placed on the company’s intranet and distributed to staff with the instructions “we do not want these guests in our parks”. 

Read the full report here.

9:54AM

In case you missed it…

Here’s footage of Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupting on Tuesday morning, spewing a massive column of smoke and ash up to 5,000 metres into the sky.

[embedded content]
9:51AM

Japan to extend state of emergency for Tokyo region 

Japan’s government plans to extend a state of emergency over the coronavirus for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures by two weeks, until March 21, broadcaster TBS reported on Wednesday.

While new coronavirus cases have fallen significantly from a peak in early January, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Tuesday the pace of decline had slowed, expressing concern that it may not be enough to lift restrictions.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says the pace of declining cases in Tokyo has slowed

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike says the pace of declining cases in Tokyo has slowed 
9:31AM

Where will be on the ‘green list’ this summer?

Let us work with one possible scenario.

It is June 21. The UK’s vaccination drive has been a roaring success, Covid cases, deaths and hospitalisations are right down across the UK, new variants have failed to drive them up, and everyday life resembles some kind of normality. We have kept to the roadmap, as planned. Other countries are in similar positions, meaning we can start to open up our borders and build a ‘green list’ of countries we can visit on a travel corridor basis.

Greece has suggested it could open its doors without restrictions to UK arrivals who have received vaccinations

Greece has suggested it could open its doors without restrictions to UK arrivals who have received vaccinations
9:23AM

The man who has explored Planet Earth’s extremes

A British explorer has become the first person to visit Earth’s four furthest extremes after a successful dive to the deepest point in the oceans.

Cambridge-born Richard Garriott has now completed the incredible triumvirate of flying in space, hiking to both North and South Poles and reaching the bottom of the world in a titanium submersible.

Richard Garriott, a dual British-American national, made sure to wear the same suit that he wore into space, which features both the Union Jack and the American Stars and Stripes.   

Richard Garriott, a dual British-American national, made sure to wear the same suit that he wore into space, which features both the Union Jack and the American Stars and Stripes.   

The 59-year-old emerged on Monday after his descent nearly seven miles below the Pacific Ocean’s surface to its deepest point, known as Challenger Deep.

To put its depth into perspective, Mount Everest’s peak is just 5.5 miles. The Mariana Trench, around the US territory of Guam in the western Pacific, is so deep that Mr Garriott is only the third to reach its deepest point.

Read the full report here.

9:15AM

Summer holiday cottage bookings up 460pc on 2019 

Britons desperate for break are snapping up UK holiday cottages this summer. Among the companies seeing a spike in demand are the Rent Easy group, which includes the brands Snaptrip, Big Cottages and Dog Friendly Cottages

Its bookings for July and August trips up are 460 per cent when compared with the number of reservations taken for those months by this point in 2019. Popular areas among its customers include  Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

9:11AM

A first look inside the new supersonic jet

Will we be flying from London to New York in an hour and a half? Supersonic jets developers certainly hope so

What it will look like inside the cabin of the Spike S-512 supersonic jet 

What it will look like inside the cabin of the Spike S-512 supersonic jet 
9:03AM

Promising signs for our staycation prospects

The fall in Covid deaths in England is running around three weeks ahead of modelling estimates, figures show, as experts called for lockdown to be eased more quickly. 

Boris Johnson has promised that the Government will lift restrictions based on “data not dates“, and figures now show that Britain’s second virus wave is declining far faster than expected.

Lucknam Park sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland

Lucknam Park sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland

Tempted to book something for a couples’ or family getaway after April 12? Here are some of the best country house hotels, for a spring getaway.

8:51AM

Is Cornwall overrated?

 Have your say.

 You can read your fellow Telegraph readers’ opinions on Cornwall, here.

8:49AM

Today is Budget Day

You can follow all the latest on our live Politics blog here, ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak presenting the Budget in the House of Commons at 12.40pm today.

8:45AM

Will I be able to go on holiday this summer if I haven’t been vaccinated?

It’s a question we get asked a lot, at Telegraph Travel HQ. It’s good news… and bad news.

The good news is that, while vaccine passports could be accepted as a means to introduce restriction-free travel, this does not necessarily mean that those who have not received two doses of the vaccine will not be able to travel. The expectation is that countries will continue to accept negative Covid test results, in lieu of a vaccination certificate. 

The bad news is that, if you do not have a vaccine certificate, you could well be looking at a number of tests (before travel, on arrival, before travel home, after arrival home) – likely at your own expense, and possibly with some form of quarantine depending on the rules of your destination.

Read our full advice piece on this matter here.

8:37AM

US states begin easing restrictions 

Texas on Tuesday became the biggest state to lift its mask rule, joining a rapidly growing movement by governors and other leaders across the US to loosen restrictions despite pleas from health officials not to let their guard down yet.

The Lone Star State will also do away with limits on the number of diners who can be served indoors, said Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock.

The governors of Michigan, Mississippi and Louisiana likewise eased up on bars, restaurants and other businesses Tuesday, as did the mayor of San Francisco.

“Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Mr Abbott, speaking from a crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”

People wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in Dallas, Texas

People wait in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccination in Dallas, Texas

Credit:
AP

8:34AM

Where are you hoping to travel this summer?

Participate in our Twitter poll to let us know which of these countries you hope to travel to this summer.

8:30AM

Virus deaths in Brazil hit all-time record high 

Brazil registered an all-time record on Tuesday for the number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day with 1,641 people dying from the disease, according to Health Ministry data.

That surpasses the previous single-day high of 1,595 deaths recorded in late July 2020, as Brazil faces a new peak in cases and the hospital system is pushed to the brink of collapse. 

Read more, here.

Healthcare workers treat Covid patients in a field hospital at the Pedro Dell'Antonia sports complex in Santo Andre, Brazil

Healthcare workers treat Covid patients in a field hospital at the Pedro Dell’Antonia sports complex in Santo Andre, Brazil

Credit:
Jonne Roriz/Bloomberg

8:12AM

What happened yesterday?

A re-cap of yesterday’s top stories:

  • Spain considering ‘green corridor’ for British tourists
  • Thailand’s travel industry lobbies for July 1 reopening 
  • More summer music festivals cancelled
  • Israel trials swapping hotel quarantine for tracking devices
  • Germany starts French border checks
  • Rome’s Mausoleum of Augustus reopens to tourists
  • Isle of Man enters 21-day lockdown

Now, on with today’s news.

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