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Find out what's in the latest issue of ABTA Magazine
Editor’s letter; plus, how to get in touch
Entry requirements for destinations added to the green list on June 30
Plus, the industry comes together for Travel Day of Action
Plus, Mark Tanzer: The travel industry is a “political orphan”
Plus, an interview with Hugh King from travel insurers battleface
Open letter urges for government support; members make media appearances
Rob Haworth, customer information manager; plus, ask the experts
The latest virtual conferences and training
A round-up of the UK destinations where you feel like you’re abroad
With the Caribbean island haven added to the green list, we look at what it offers
We sample the diverse flavours of the region, liberally seasoned with myriad influences from cultures and cuisines around the world
Undersea exploration in the Caribbean is more than a rite of passage; with so many sites to experience, it’s a lifetime’s work
It’s been another turbulent month for the travel industry. We began June with Portugal snatched from the green list, but ended it with 16 new countries and island groups added, including the Balearics and a host of Caribbean destinations. The update is incredibly welcome but, with so many destinations on the newly introduced green watchlist – and entry restrictions of course a factor – it does not, on its own, deliver the meaningful restart of international travel that the industry needs.
That’s why the Travel Day of Action was vital – and why we must continue to push the government every chance we get. The day, an amazing achievement, saw about 800 industry professionals come together in London – plus groups in Belfast and Edinburgh. But the battle, of course, is nowhere near being won. ABTA continues to push for the government to commit to a package of tailored financial support for the sector, which recognises that the travel industry’s recovery will be slower than that in other sectors of the economy.
In this issue, we use an interactive map to take a look at the entry restrictions to some of the new green list destinations, head on a whirlwind tour of the Caribbean, plus consider some of the UK destinations that will satisfy your customers’ wanderlust. Plus, there’s all the usual news from ABTA and the wider industry.
We hope you enjoy reading.
Anthony Pearce, director
020 3865 9360
DJMWeb, The Studio
Nathaniel Cramp, Emily Eastman, Alice Snape
Sales and partnerships
Sam Ballard, director
Bryan Johnson, senior sales manager
0203 865 9338
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Waterfront Publishing is an independent publisher based in central London. It has an in-house magazine, Cruise Adviser, which is aimed at the travel trade. It has also produced magazines on behalf of ABTA; Travelzoo; and Emerald Waterways. Its design agency The Studio by Waterfront offers copywriting, proofreading and design for print, digital, advertising and branding.
Entry requirements for the destinations added to the green list on June 30
The dreamy Caribbean island of Anguilla was added to the UK’s green watchlist on June 30. Anyone wishing to travel to the British Overseas Territory, including children, will need to apply for approval from the government’s health team by completing an online form on its Covid-19 website.
From July 1, travellers who have been fully vaccinated at least three weeks before arrival will not need to quarantine and will not need to be tested on arrival, but they will need to show evidence of a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test taken three to five days before arrival. Accepted proof of vaccination status includes an NHS Covid Pass or an NHS letter. An NHS appointment card will not be accepted.
Non-vaccinated travellers will need to self-isolate for 10 days in approved accommodation. They must also take a Covid-19 test on arrival and show a negative RT-PCR test taken three to five days before arrival.x
Traveller Health Declaration form must be completed 24 hours before arriving in the sunny Spice Isle of Grenada, now on the UK’s green watchlist.
All arrivals into Grenada over the age of five need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival into the country.
Vaccinated travellers need to show proof of vaccination status, with the second vaccine being administered more than 14 days before their arrival date. They will then need to take a PCR test on arrival (paid for in advance on pay.gov.gd) and quarantine in their hotel for 48 hours while waiting for a negative result. Then they will be able to move freely around the island.
Non-vaccinated travellers will need to quarantine for seven days in their hotel. On day five, they will need to take a second PCR test and if the result is negative, they can travel freely around Grenada.x
British holiday favourite Malta is one of the most recent additions to the government’s green list and was the only one not to be placed on the green watchlist, a list of countries at risk of moving from green to amber.
Only fully vaccinated travellers can travel to Malta from the UK and they must have been jabbed more than 14 days before travel.
Acceptable proof of vaccination status includes the NHS Covid Pass letter and digital Covid passes, including the NHS app and the vaccination certificate in digital or downloaded PDF form.
Children aged from five to 11 can travel to Malta if they are accompanied by vaccinated adults with proof of a negative PCR test carried out up to 72 hours before arrival in Malta. Children under five are not required to get tested. Anyone aged 12 and over will need proof of vaccination.
Everyone must complete a Public Health Travel Declaration Form before departure.x
Open to tourists, paradise island Antigua and its little sister island Barbuda are currently on the UK’s green watchlist.
All arriving passengers must have a negative RT-PCR test taken up to seven days before their flight. Children under the age of 12 do not need to take a test. All arriving passengers must complete a Health Declaration Form upon arrival in Antigua and Barbuda.
Visitors will receive medical screenings and have their temperature taken at the airport, and may be asked to take a test on arrival, or at their hotel, as determined by the health authorities. This test costs $100 (£72). The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office warns of “long waiting times on arrival” at the airport.
Regardless of vaccination status, tourists can normally travel straight to certified tourism accommodation after screening and be allowed to move around the country freely.x
Now on the UK’s green watchlist, the British Virgin Islands is giving a warm welcome to the fully vaccinated who received their second jab at least 14 days before arrival.
The double-jabbed will not need to take a test on arrival or quarantine, but they will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to five days before arrival, as well as proof of vaccination status in the form of an NHS Covid Pass or NHS letter.
They will also need to buy a BVI Gateway Travel Authorisation Certificate for $35 (£25).
Unvaccinated children aged five to 17 travelling with fully vaccinated parents will be tested on arrival, and will need to return to a testing centre for a further test on day four.
The rules are tougher for unvaccinated travellers who will need to buy a Secure BVI Gateway Travel Authorisation Certificate for $175 (£126); show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken three to five days before arrival; take a test upon arrival; quarantine for seven days; and take another test on day seven.
Partially vaccinated (received one dose or received both doses less than 14 days before arrival) will need to do the same as unvaccinated travellers, but will quarantine for just four days and must take a test on day four.x
The Balearic Islands (which include Majorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca) were recently added to the UK’s green watchlist.
Spain has recently tightened its entry requirements for Brits visiting Spain, the Canaries and the Balearics, due to fears over the Delta variant of Covid-19.
British travellers entering the Balearics will now need to present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 48 hours of travel or show proof of vaccination (an NHS Covid Pass or NHS letter). Anyone using vaccination status needs to have received their second jab at least 14 days before travel. These rules apply to all Brits aged 12 and over.
A pre-travel declaration form also needs to be completed before travel.
The rest of Spain is still on the UK’s amber list.x
Tourist hotspot Barbados was recently added to the UK’s green watchlist, meaning that it’s at risk of suddenly being moved back to amber.
Upon arrival, all travellers must present a valid negative PCR test taken up to three days (72 hours) before travel. Children under the age of five are exempt from taking a test.
Vaccinated travellers must show a vaccination certificate (an NHS Covid Pass or NHS letter) showing they were vaccinated more than 14 days before their arrival date; take a PCR test on arrival at the airport or at an approved hotel and then stay at the approved hotel for 24 to 48 hours until receiving the test result. Once a negative result is received, visitors are free to explore the island.
Unvaccinated visitors must stay at an approved hotel for five days and will be unable to leave their room to use the hotel’s facilities, such as swimming pools and restaurants, during that time. They may also be required to wear an electronic tracking bracelet. On day five, another PCR test must be taken and the result will take around 24 to 48 hours to come back. Once a negative result is received, travellers can use the hotel facilities and travel around the island.x
Another newbie to the government’s green watchlist, Bermuda has different entry requirements for vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.
All visitors must apply for Travel Authorisation by completing this form one to three days before departure. This costs $75 (£54) and includes the cost of all Covid-19 testing in Bermuda.
Anyone aged two and above is required to take a PCR test up to four days before arrival, and a negative result must be presented upon arrival in Bermuda. All visitors aged two and above will also be required to take a PCR test at the airport.
Vaccinated travellers can enjoy their hotel facilities while waiting up to 24 hours for their PCR test results. Once a negative result is received, travellers can move freely around the island. However, visitors must take their own temperature twice a day and report the results via the online travel authorisation portal for the first 14 days. They must also take Covid-19 tests on day four, day eight and day 14.
Non-immunised travellers need to quarantine for 14 days at a designated quarantine hotel at their own expense. They also need to take their temperature twice a day and report in the same way, along with taking tests on day four, day eight and day 13. After receiving negative results on day 14, guests can leave quarantine to explore the island and begin their holiday.x
Recently added to the UK’s green watchlist, Turks and Caicos doesn’t have such tough restrictions in place as many of its Caribbean counterparts.
A free TCI Assured Travel Authorisation form needs to be completed by all travellers before visiting this idyllic beach destination.
Travellers also need to complete a PCR test no more than five days before their arrival date on the islands, and results should be uploaded to the TCI Assured portal. Visitors also need to take out travel insurance with Covid-19 cover.
Unlike several other Caribbean countries, no further Covid-19 tests are required once granted entry and there are no daily health checks.x
Non-vaccinated travellers no longer need to quarantine when visiting Madeira, which was recently added to the UK’s green watchlist.
The rules contrast with mainland Portugal which announced that Brits will need to quarantine if they have not been double vaccinated.
All travellers aged 12 and over need to complete a traveller questionnaire before visiting the Portuguese archipelago. A RT-PCR test needs to be taken 72 hours before travel and the result uploaded to the questionnaire.
Testing on arrival will not be required for double-jabbed tourists visiting Madeira, but they will need to show proof of their vaccination status.
Non-vaccinated tourists will need to present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival, or they can take a free PCR test at the airport on arrival with results in six to 12 hours. They will need to quarantine until a negative result comes through.x
Bookings surge as the operator resumes international flights and holidays to Madeira, Majorca, Ibiza and Menorca
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays resumed international flights and holidays to four sunny destinations on the green list from July 1, following the announcement from the UK government on international travel. As of June 30, 27 additional destinations were added to the green list, meaning visitors do not have to quarantine on their return to the UK.
Jet2 is now running flights from Belfast International, Birmingham, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol to the popular summer destinations of Majorca, Menorca, Madeira and Ibiza. These flights are in addition to those currently operating to Jersey.
The company reported large surges in bookings from UK holidaymakers for July and August after the destinations were added to the green watchlist. Bookings for July increased by more than 3,000 per cent at one point, while bookings for Madeira were up by close to 1,500 per cent. Jet2 responded by adding additional flights to Madeira from Birmingham and Leeds Bradford airports for the month, allowing for thousands of extra seats.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said: “We are delighted to see our flights take off again and to be resuming our award-winning flights and holidays programme to the Balearic islands — Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza — and Madeira.
“We know how much pent-up demand there is from our customers and independent travel agents and we have already added extra flights to Madeira to cope with demand. We look forward to more destinations being added to the UK’s green list very soon and taking more customers away on their much-needed holidays.”
Jet2 have cancelled all flights and holidays to destinations currently on the amber list until July 14. The programme will be continuously under review in line with announcements and updates from the government. Customers with flights and holidays to amber list destinations will have their booking fully refunded and should expect contact from a member of the Jet2’s team to rebook their trips.
Travel industry professionals gathered outside parliament for a day of protest organised by ABTA
The travel industry held a day of demonstrations in major cities around the UK on June 23, to protest against the lack of government support for the sector.
The Travel Day of Action saw about 800 industry professionals come together in London – plus groups in Belfast and Edinburgh – to pressure the government to support an industry which has been on hold for 15 months.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “We’re here for the first Travel Day of Action to make the case to MPs and ministers as to how deep the crisis is and how urgently we need the government to act operationally to get travel ready again, in terms of using the traffic light system and recognise that vaccinated passengers are different – but also financially.”
Brian Young, managing director of G Adventures, said: “I’m here to get the government to understand that the travel industry can’t continue on hold in the manner it has. I need the government to start understanding the travel industry properly because I don’t think they have any idea of the impact of the stop/start or the traffic light system that’s broken.”
He added: “I can’t have a system that pulls a core destination from under our feet within three weeks of opening up. Furlough doesn’t work for travel agents. Travel agents have had massive disruption to deal with and they need staff to handle that. Furlough works for some sectors but not for travel.”
Miles Morgan, founder of Miles Morgan Travel, said: “I hope we’re going to achieve awareness of the plight that the industry is in – without a summer this will be the end for many. It’s all about cash and people’s cash is running out. In the past, you could understand the government’s rationale, but that has now gone completely. Decisions like not putting Malta on the green list – there is no logic with the government’s decision making. That’s why so many people are out here today.”
Kelly Cookes, leisure director of Advantage, added: “We need one person representing the industry. It’s very fragmented. There are different parts of the industry represented differently, but there’s no one minister that understands the whole end-to-end industry and is responsible for it.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the plans will be introduced later this summer, with details to be set out this month
Fully vaccinated people in England will be able to travel to an amber list country without having to quarantine on their return, under new plans set to be introduced this summer.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more details will be set out in July as the government explores options.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries,” he said.
“There are a number of questions that still need to be answered, but what we did want to do is let people know that this is something that we are actively looking at – but it won’t be until later in the summer.”
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said the aviation sector will work with the government to ensure the policy is introduced “as soon as possible”.
“It is very positive news that ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer,” he said.
“We are a cosmopolitan country, a small island with strong links to the rest of the world. Exporters want to get out and sell their goods to the world, families want to reconnect after a year of separation. We will work with the government to make this happen as soon as possible.”
Previously, Tui’s UK managing director argued that a person’s vaccination status should aid their ability to travel more freely, as it does in Europe.
Andrew Flintham said: “In the short term we need transparency from government about how they’ll get international travel open for business again. We need to understand the methodology and data they’re using when applying the Global Travel Taskforce framework – and to then actually stick with the framework that the industry and Department for Transport agreed to.
“As a country we have over 50 per cent of adults vaccinated with two doses and yet we’re not taking advantage of this; by doing so it also removes the complexity and expense of testing for those fully vaccinated.”
Speaking to ABTA Magazine, Garry Wilson, chief executive officer, easyJet holidays, said “consumer confidence is key” to travel’s recovery in the short term.
“For that to be successful we need really clear information and guidelines from our government, applied with some certainty and stability, so that everyone knows what’s expected and required to be able to travel this summer,” he said. “We also continue to push for travel to be as affordable and accessible as possible and are still waiting to see what else the government can do to bring down the cost of testing. The industry, as a whole, also needs some real and very targeted and tailored financial support as it continues to be so impacted. So while we’ve taken decisive action, and within holidays specifically we have really low fixed costs, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners and peers and want to see much more to support our combined recovery.”
The ABTA chief executive and others had some strong words for the government at this year’s Travel Matters conference
Mark Tanzer said that the travel industry is a “political orphan” during his opening remarks at the ABTA Travel Matters conference last month.
The chief executive of ABTA also revealed that the association is investigating legal options to challenge the government.
Tanzer said: “Outbound travel is, by its nature, complex and involves our interacting with many government departments – Transport, Treasury, Business, Home Office, FCDO, DCMS. We accept this and are happy to put the resources into widespread engagement. But that does not mean we are content to be a political orphan. Clear accountability for the welfare of the outbound travel sector needs to be given to a designated minister. Our economic contribution is weighty – more money is spent in the UK by British citizens prior to travelling abroad than is spent by international visitors! – and the job creation (or destruction) potential is huge.”
The ABTA boss was speaking at the annual Travel Matters conference, watched by more than 600 industry professionals. He also revealed that the aviation minister, Robert Courts, had pulled out of speaking at the event.
“We come together at the darkest hour in recent travel history. You don’t need me to tell you of the carnage wrought by the pandemic and the devastating impact it continues to have on travel businesses and travel lives. At ABTA we see this up front and close with long-established members failing or choosing to shut up shop, and heartbreaking stories of personal loss. They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn. This dawn has been a long time coming and we desperately need to see day breaking soon.”
Other speakers at the event included Andrew Flintham, the UK boss of Tui, who blasted the Prime Minister and Chancellor for not granting the industry a single meeting.
The industry had reached the “end of its tether”, he said.
“We are all fighting for one common goal – and that’s to safely reopen international travel. However, as an industry worth £37 billion a year to the UK economy, accounting for nearly two per cent of GDP, and supporting over half a million jobs across the UK, we have not managed to get even one meeting with our Prime Minister or Chancellor of the Exchequer.”
Prior to the event, Tanzer said how the government must finally deliver a “package of tailored financial support to see the industry through to recovery, in recognition that the unlocking of international travel, and hence businesses’ ability to trade and generate income, will be much slower than first anticipated”.
“This includes extending existing furlough and self-employed income support, extending full business rates relief and creating a new sector-specific ‘recovery grants’ regime for travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies,” he said. “This is particularly critical now, as furlough contributions are due to rise at the end of June and business rates relief will be tapered, and many travel businesses will not have the money to cover these costs.”
His comments came as ABTA revealed that almost 200,000 jobs have been lost in travel as a result of the pandemic.
“In the long term, we need a coherent, consistent and cost-effective system to facilitate international travel that returns some much-needed stability to the travel industry,” he said. “The virus isn’t going to disappear, so we need to learn how best to manage it so public health is protected, travel businesses can run smoothly and consumers can feel confident about booking and travelling once again.”
The newly-added green list destinations clarify their entry requirements for UK travellers
Malta and Madeira have updated their entry requirements for British holidaymakers.
Non-vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine when visiting Madeira from June 30, when the island was moved onto the UK’s green watchlist.
The rules contrast with those in mainland Portugal, which announced that Brits will need to quarantine if they have not been double-vaccinated.
Testing will not be required for double-jabbed tourists visiting Madeira, or those who have recovered from Covid-19.
Non-vaccinated tourists will need to present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Alternatively, visitors can take a free PCR test at the airport on arrival or departure, with results in six to 12 hours.
Curfew hours have been reduced to between 1am and 5am, and restaurants are allowed to open for dinner until midnight.
In a statement, the Madeira Regional Tourist Board said: “The Covid-19 situation in Madeira is under excellent control. There are no cases of the Delta variant currently. In the past month there has been a 73 per cent decrease in active cases and there are only 61 active cases – there are 18 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days as of June 27, which remains one of the lowest rates in Europe.
“Furthermore, more than one third of the population has been fully vaccinated and the tourism sector is soon going to complete its vaccination programme. In Porto Santo, Madeira’s sister island, 70 per cent of the population older than 16 are fully vaccinated, which means that the island has reached group immunisation.”
Malta was also added to the UK’s green list on June 30. However, only fully vaccinated travellers can travel to Malta from the UK and they must have been jabbed more than 14 days before travel.
Acceptable proof of vaccination status includes the NHS Covid Pass letter and digital Covid passes, including the NHS app and the vaccination certificate in digital or downloaded PDF form.
Children aged from five to 11 can travel to Malta if they are accompanied by vaccinated adults with proof of a negative PCR test carried out up to 72 hours before arrival in Malta. Children under five are not required to get tested. Anyone aged 12 and over will need proof of vaccination. Everyone must complete a Public Health Travel Declaration Form before departure.
Johann Buttigieg, chief executive officer at the Malta Tourism Authority said: “Malta is a very popular destination for British holidaymakers and the people of Malta are looking forward to tourists returning who have loved our sunshine, culture, food and warm spirit year in year out.”
See more on our green list map here
The director of business development at the travel insurance company tells us about the importance of getting the right cover
Hugh King manages travel insurance provider battleface’s relationships with their UK and Europe corporate clients. Here he looks at how government changes in policy have impacted the travel industry and what it means for their clients.
Why is travel insurance important for clients?
Getting medical care on holiday can cost you thousands of pounds. Travel insurance gives travellers peace of mind by providing access to emergency medical assistance while protecting against high costs should plans go awry. Every international trip has its own unique risks and challenges, depending on the destination and planned activities, so making sure all eventualities are covered by your travel insurance policy is essential. Medical and other emergencies typically rack up the most costs for consumers, so ensuring your policy gives you access to 24/7 medical assistance and/or be brought home is essential.
What are the most important things to consider when choosing travel insurance?
A one-size-fits-all approach to travel insurance doesn’t work and the cost is determined by a range of factors including the traveller’s country of residence, destination, age(s) of traveller(s), the duration of trip; activities planned and any pre-existing medical conditions.
What’s the deal with travel insurance and FCDO advice and the traffic light system?
Travelling against FCDO advice can invalidate emergency medical cover on many travel insurance policies, so it’s important that travellers ensure they have the right cover for their destination at the time of travel.
What types of Covid-19 cover are companies offering right now?
Most insurers now offer Covid-19 cover, but some insurers’ cover is more comprehensive than others, so travellers need to check the policy details and limitations before purchasing.
There are a few companies who offer cancellation cover, although many have FCDO exclusions and therefore would not be valid if the country advisory changes. battleface policies, however, remain valid and available should you decide to travel regardless. Travellers up to the age of 79 can purchase our products. We provide cover for illness and accidents up to the policy limit of £5,000,000. Cover for illness is not available for those aged 75 years or over. We also include cover for emergency medical expenses caused by or resulting from Covid-19. The Covid-19 cover is available on all policies for travellers up to the age of 59 or under.
How do you work with other businesses? battleface is more than a retail travel insurance solution. For commercial entities with a significant distribution base, we can custom-build our products. We unbundle the expensive, restrictive, traditional travel insurance policies to provide a customer-focused, module based, robust travel insurance proposition aligned to our partners’ traveller demographics. We work with OTA’s; larger retailers; tour operators, resort and hospitality providers.
The letter to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Transport asks for tailored support for the outbound travel sector
ABTA has written an open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, urging them to support the outbound travel sector by providing tailored financial support to businesses and opening up travel by adding more countries onto the green list and removing quarantine for those travelling to amber list countries who have been vaccinated.
The letter comes as businesses face increased furlough costs and business rates payments this week (from July 1) and as the government reviews the requirements for international travel. A full copy of the letter is below.
Dear Chancellor, Dear Secretary of State,
We are writing during what would normally be the busiest trading period for most businesses in UK outbound travel. Instead the industry is struggling with a deepening crisis.
It is this time of year when most travel businesses make their money. The critical summer weeks account for around two thirds of annual income for many travel agencies and tour operators – vital revenue that carries those businesses through the rest of the year. But not this year. We’ve already lost a sizeable part of the season and ongoing restrictions on travel, combined with the pending rise in furlough and business rates payments, mean that many travel businesses, particularly small to medium-sized companies, are teetering on the edge of a financial cliff.
This devastation can still be avoided, if the government takes urgent action to support businesses through the crisis, and there are two things we are asking your respective departments to address immediately:
Firstly, more than anything, travel companies want to be able to trade their way out of this crisis. It is the government’s own restrictions and measures that are preventing businesses sending customers overseas. While we accept that that public health is the government’s overriding priority, we believe the traffic light system and the UK’s high level of vaccination set the right framework to allow for increased foreign travel now, in a safe and risk-managed way.
The additions of some popular holiday destinations to the green or green watch lists this week, while welcome, does not come anywhere near the restart of travel needed to save jobs and businesses and kickstart our recovery. More countries need to be added to the green list, and the government also needs to look urgently at relaxing the rules around quarantine for amber list countries for fully vaccinated travellers.
Ministers have been rightly proud of the success of the UK’s vaccine rollout. Yet, as other countries, many with still lower rates of vaccination than us, begin to reopen their borders and enable their citizens to travel again, it is time to capitalise fully on the success of our own vaccination programme.
We are encouraged that the government has confirmed an intention to relax rules for fully vaccinated people visiting amber destinations, and to remove advice against travelling to these places. However, these changes must be implemented quickly – before the end of July – if they are to make a meaningful difference. A vague promise to do so “later in the summer” will not be enough to save jobs and businesses in the travel industry.
Secondly, we urge the Chancellor to commit to providing a tailored package of financial support for travel companies, including extension of furlough support and business rates relief at current levels, which are currently due to rise this week (July 1), along with a dedicated grant scheme to help them get through the very difficult weeks and months ahead.
While paying 10 per cent of furlough contributions and a third of business rates may well be affordable for those businesses who have been able to trade during the pandemic and re-open since lockdown lifted, it is a terrifying prospect for many of our members. Without the opportunity to earn income since the beginning of the crisis, and with travel still severely restricted, these costs will be crippling for businesses in the outbound travel industry.
The gradual removal of support across the wider economy is based on parallel giving back of freedoms, and lifting of restrictions, which will enable businesses to trade again successfully. The Prime Minister, and many other cabinet ministers, have publicly acknowledged that this process will not be followed for international travel for many months to come. Yet we hear nothing from the government in terms of a plan for ongoing support, only the repeated message that the aviation industry has received £7billion in support. This support, as you say yourselves, was given to the aviation industry, not to travel agents or tour operators.
We are regularly hearing from travel agents and tour operators who have spent decades building up a profitable and viable business, only to see their life’s work wiped out, leaving them with heartbreaking, but unavoidable, decisions to cut staff. Our latest analysis shows that the industry has seen 195,000 jobs already lost or put at risk. This figure will increase notably in the coming weeks in the absence of government action.
This summer season is the most important ever for the outbound travel industry. We are asking you to act now to save jobs and businesses and to set the industry on the road to recovery.
ABTA Press Office helps out as members appear on prime time news shows to talk about the current state of the industry
ABTA Members have been very active in the media over the last few weeks, conducting TV and radio interviews around the current state of the industry and the ever more pressing need for targeted assistance. The media were delighted with their contributions, many of which were facilitated by the ABTA Press Office, and their passionate and eloquent testimonies made for powerful and compelling viewing and listening.
Members appeared on BBC prime time news, Sky News, Channel 4 and ITV Anglia, as well as the extremely prestigious Radio 4 Today programme and Radio 5 Live. In addition, many local radio stations sought their views and Council of Region Chairs have been especially prominent in fighting the corner of local ABTA members, work which can sometimes go unregarded and is carried out without any financial reward,
A special mention must go to Jackie Steadman of Travel Time World, Richard Slater of Henbury Travel, Marc Vincent of Newmarket holidays, Nick Lee of Broadlands Travel and those members who made themselves available in advance for interview on the Travel Day of Action. ABTA appreciates their efforts, particularly when the media can often ask for interviews at inconvenient times of the day.
Have a burning question you can’t find the answer to? Be it travel trends, a regulatory riddle or destination dilemmas, send us your query for an expert response
When I take on new staff, one of the first things I impress on them is the importance of telling customers about Foreign Office advice. It would make my life easier if you could set out for me just why it is so important.
Advice from the Foreign Office – now called the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) – is one of the most important sources of information and guidance in the travel industry. FCDO travel advice is put together with input from numerous different agencies and is the best source for information such as entry requirements, which countries can and often do change, sometimes at fairly short notice. If a customer is not aware of visa requirements, or in the current environment, testing or vaccination requirements, they would almost certainly be prevented from boarding their flight and be hit with the subsequent cancellation charges. If you had not informed them of these requirements, or more pertinently where to find them, they could look to you for a reimbursement.
Rather than you having to be an expert on every country’s regulations, it is much more sensible to simply direct customers to the relevant FCDO travel advice pages. It is also a Code of Conduct requirement that you do so. The FCDO advice will also always direct customers to the official source for obtaining visas. This is important, as if you simply do an online search, a range of companies with very official looking websites will pop up offering visas for a fee, when they are in fact generally available for a much lower charge or even for free.
Other important issues such as local laws and customs will be covered in the advice, these can vary significantly from the UK and, although local police may give extra leeway to foreign visitors, ignorance is not a very convincing defence for breaking laws or upsetting local sensibilities and could result in very serious consequences. The FCDO advice will also give information on health requirements and refer to the best sources for more detailed health advice.
The FCDO can, on occasion, advise against travel to a country or in some instances parts of a country. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this is currently true for the majority of countries worldwide. In a more normal year this decision would be driven by concern for the safety of British nationals due to factors such as war, terrorist threats and political unrest and, of course, these concerns are also still ongoing even during a pandemic. It is extremely important that customers follow this advice, it is given for very good reasons and, if ignored, customers will be travelling uninsured as insurers will take the view that they invalidated their cover. ABTA and our members also take the view that we will not send customers to a country contrary to FCDO advice and will offer customers three options: to defer their date of travel, change their destination or get a full refund.
So, in short, FCDO advice is an essential and useful tool to enable your customers to make a properly informed choice when travelling and takes an awful lot of pressure off you knowing that your customers have all the right information they need as they head off overseas.
Daryl Nurthen, member support manager
Each issue we speak to a different ABTA employee about their work. This time: Rob Haworth, customer information manager
I first realised that my future belonged in the travel industry during my gap year between school and university, when I went off on a working holiday to Australia and then on to New Zealand and South East Asia. My career in travel started after completing my Tourism Management degree at Sheffield Hallam University, when I joined Cosmos and Monarch Holidays as a holiday rep.
I was posted to the beautiful islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, home to the unique and stylish architecture of César Manrique, where I was responsible for the resorts of Corralejo and Playa Blanca. After 10 months of Canarian hospitality, my next adventure took me to Sharm el-Sheik, where I worked with our local handling agents’ team, Flash Tours. They were such an amazingly hospitable bunch, I was very sad to leave them behind after a year as I returned to the UK, determined to embark on a more settled life and career.
April 2010 had a seismic impact on the travel industry. Just after I started work as a travel consultant with Flight Centre, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted, bringing a halt to air travel to and from the UK for over a week. At the time it seemed like a significant crisis, little did we know what was to come a decade later! I spent the best part of eight years with Flight Centre, working across its direct customer brands of FCBT, Retail and eventually First & Business. The role of a Flight Centre agent was to ensure that your customers would be so ‘wowed’ by your service that they would come back and book future holidays through you, but also to trust you enough to book their business travel through you as well. So, a very high standard of customer service and travel knowledge was essential.
I eventually decided to move on from the life of an agent and sales and make use of my now 10 years of frontline customer service skills elsewhere, which is when I joined ABTA as a customer support manager. Recently we changed our name to the Customer Information Team, to more accurately reflect the role we play in supporting the ABTA brand.
We are a small team of eight and our main role is to help and give advice to our members’ customers on any travel related questions they may have, or with disputes that may have arisen between the two parties. We do this in a couple of different ways, online and also on the phone, as many customers prefer the ‘face to face’ approach. If they have a dispute already registered with us via the ABTA complaints portal, we will then be able to guide them through our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.
No day is ever the same in the Customer Information Team, which is what makes it so exciting and enjoyable to work in. As many of the general public view ABTA with a great deal of trust and as the prominent advisory body for the travel industry, we also receive calls from customers with non-ABTA related problems. Although we can’t offer them the use of our ADR scheme, we will still offer the best advice we can for them – which includes the recommendation to book with an ABTA member and many tell us that, in future, they will always do so.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ABTA has postponed its normal events schedule and is running a series of free webinars, new practical training events and one-day conferences virtually. These virtual events are designed to help travel businesses navigate the challenges of the coronavirus crisis and be prepared for the restart of travel.
Visit abta.com/abtaevents to find out more and register.
ABTA has launched a series of new virtual training days offering practical guidance in key areas for travel businesses of all sizes. ABTA members and partners benefit from discounted rates.
ABTA’s popular complaints handling training will give you the crucial skills to help you deal with complaints effectively across a variety of channels including email, phone and social media. As travel starts to unlock, attend to refresh your skills and ensure you are prepared for the restart. Find out more
This virtual training day offers practical guidance for tour operators and travel agents. Understand the impact of Covid-19 on your legal obligations and how to prepare for the restart of travel. This interactive training will equip you with the tools you need to understand the key legal issues and protect your business and customers as travel unlocks. Find out more
ABTA’s webinars are delivered in collaboration with trusted ABTA Partners and offer business support, advice and guidance to help travel businesses through the coronavirus crisis. They are free for ABTA members and partners.
Join this webinar to get the latest practical advice on the funding solutions available to travel businesses. Understand the options available to you and what’s best for your business including Government support and strategies for approaching lenders. Get advice and solutions on the practical steps you can take to remain financially resilient as travel restarts, including preparing your business for M&A activity, restructuring options and working capital optimisation. Find out more
Webinars on demand: You can access recordings of our previous webinars here.
Those in search of somewhere exotic needn’t stray too far from home – these staycations will make you feel like you’re abroad. By Janine Kelso
Like a picture-postcard Italian village with its pastel-coloured buildings, atmospheric piazzas and tropical flowers, Portmeirion can be found in the most unlikely of destinations: North Wales. This Mediterranean-style village was lovingly created by eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis after he bought the land in 1925. He spent the next 50 years transforming it into a town that wouldn’t look out of place on the Italian Riviera. With only two hotels and a smattering of cottages to spend the night, it is mostly visited by day-trippers.
Great Rail Journeys’ commercial director Julian Appleyard says: “Portmeirion is a popular stop on our Railways and Castles of Wales tour due to its stunning architecture and atmosphere that mirrors that of the Mediterranean.”
Sample package: The six-day Railways and Castles of Wales tour costs £775 per person with Great Rail Journeys, including five nights’ accommodation, 10 meals, a farewell gala dinner and a guided tour of Portmeirion. Departing August 20, 2021. More information.
Floating almost halfway between Scotland and Norway, the Shetland Islands have a distinctly Scandinavian flavour. It’s possible to see the northern lights here in winter, while the sun barely sets in summer apart from a few twilight hours that locals refer to as the ‘summer dim’. Colourful timber homes dot Shetland capital Lerwick, which also hosts Viking fire festival Up Helly Aa every January. Popular with outdoor enthusiasts thanks to almost 1,500km of coastline, the islands offer plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, kayaking and diving. Teeming with wildlife, visitors can spot seabirds, seals, dolphins, puffins and, of course, Shetland ponies. It might be one of the most remote parts of the UK but the archipelago is easily reachable thanks to regular ferry crossings and flights from mainland Scotland.
Sample package: Ramblers Walking Holidays offers a 14-night Orkney and Shetland Islands tour from £2,425 per person, including half-board accommodation, return flights from Glasgow, transfers and a tour guide. More information.
Isles of Scilly
Lying just off the Cornish coast, the subtropical Isles of Scilly are the UK’s warmest destination. The archipelago’s five pint-sized inhabited islands and 100s of uninhabited ones are awash with dreamy white-sand beaches that could easily be mistaken for those in the Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy island-hopping, boat trips to see the seals and seabirds, and water sports such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
But the Scillies’ real star attraction is horticultural gem Tresco Abbey Garden, home to 20,000 exotic plants from around the globe and described as “Kew without the glass”.
Beverley Scarr, general manager, short haul products at Premier Holidays advises travellers planning a trip to the Isles of Scilly to book well in advance as the islands are “extremely popular”.
Sample package: Four nights’ bed and breakfast in a three-star hotel in St Mary’s costs £579 per person with Premier Holidays, including return ferry from Penzance, departing October. More information.
Sprawling almost 120km from coast to coast across rugged countryside, Hadrian’s Wall falls slightly short of the Great Wall of China’s mammoth 21,196km. But what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in epic scenery and rich history. Dating back to AD122, the wall was built to protect the wild north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. Explorable via numerous walking trails that vary from a few hours to a few days, there’s plenty to see along the way, including towers, forts and turrets. It takes around six to eight days to trek the entire route.
Sample package: A nine-day England and Scotland tour, including a visit to Hadrian’s Wall, costs from £1,268 per person with Contiki, including round-trip coach travel from London, hotel accommodation, eight breakfasts and two dinners, departing September 10. More information.
Reminiscent of the Algarve’s heavenly coastline, Cornwall’s beaches sizzle thanks to their white sands and turquoise waters. Standouts include photogenic Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsula, regularly hailed as one of the best beaches in the world. Peaceful Porth Joke Beach in Newquay appeals to surfers, while Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth is a hit with families thanks to its generally calm waters.
“Cornwall’s picturesque coast can rival the gorgeous beaches of the Algarve surrounded by steep colourful cliffs,” says Intrepid’s head of business development Joanna Reeve.
Sample package: Intrepid’s four-day Walk the Cornish Coast costs from £491 per person, departing August 11. More information.
Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye
Scotland’s famous Loch Ness could easily rival New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes National Park, while the magical Isle of Skye bears an uncanny resemblance to Stewart Island. Renowned for its Loch Ness Monster myth, the eerie loch is also the UK’s most voluminous lake. Soak up the scenery by walking or cycling a section of the new 130km Loch Ness 360° Trail, or by hopping aboard a sightseeing boat. Head to Skye to hike through the Waternish peninsula, sip wee drams of whisky, and lap up the majestic scenery.
Sample package: Trafalgar offers a seven-day Best of Scotland tour (including Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye) for £1,350 per person, including six nights’ accommodation, 10 meals and all transport, departing November 28. More information.
Main image credit: English Heritage
With the island haven added to the green list, we look at what it offers and, over the next few pages, the numerous diving and food options as Caribbean holidays return to the menu
Home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, a Unesco World Heritage-listed capital, and the sprawling, colourful Crop Over carnival, Barbados is one of the Caribbean’s most fascinating and enduringly popular destinations.
The former colony, where English is the official language, is unsurprisingly popular among Brits and is connected to the UK by regular, direct British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights.
The island has a wealth of hotels, world-famous beaches (all of which are public) and fantastic culture and cuisine.
Visitors usually choose between the West and South Coasts as a base. The West Coast, also known as the Gold Coast, is made up of the parishes of St Peter, St Michael and St James, and famed for its pristine and quiet beaches. Guests can choose between the likes of Brandons, Batts Rock, Fitts Village, Paynes Bay, Sandy Lane and Folkestone Park in St James, or Mullins Bay and Heywoods in St Peter.
The upmarket St James is home to hotels such as the extravagant Sandy Lane, and welcomes celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Mariah Carey and Rihanna, who grew up on the modest Westbury New Road (since renamed Rihanna Drive).
The South Coast is known for its nightlife and watersports, and is generally more affordable than some parts of the upscale West Coast. The North and East Coasts offer some of the island’s most majestic views, but are generally better suited for walking than for swimming, given the ferocity of the Atlantic waves. Carlisle Bay, just south of Bridgetown, is also a good bet. But given Barbados is only 34km long and 23km wide, it doesn’t take long to get from one end of the island to the other.
Many will spend their days sunning themselves, but the historical sights in and around Bridgetown – such as the 19th century Parliament Buildings and the city’s synagogue – are worth exploring. Ten minutes outside the city is the impressive George Washington House, where the US president once resided. It’s found in the Garrison area, once a British military base.
Elsewhere, the Mount Gay Rum bottling plant offers one-hour tours with tastings. There’s also the 17th century St Nicholas Abbey, a plantation house, museum and rum distillery and three genuine Jacobean mansions in the West.
Barbados is a key port of call on Caribbean cruises: the likes of P&O Cruises, Fred Olsen, Seabourn, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Windstar, Star Clipper and Sea Cloud Cruises all usually begin itineraries in Barbados. The cruises tend to range from seven to 14 nights and take in the likes of the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, St Kitts and St Lucia.
The cruise terminal is located in its capital, Bridgetown. The harbour is just 20km from the Grantley Adams International Airport, and transfers cost around £20. P&O Cruises, for example, charters flights to the country, meaning customers are taken directly from the airport to the port, without having to wait around at passport control.
The port itself has cafés, bars and shops, and is a 20-minute walk to the centre of town – or there’s a minibus shuttle, which costs £1.50. A walk will take in the impressive Cheapside Market, where vendors sell clothing, crafts, fruit, vegetables, spices and more. It’s busiest and most enjoyable on Saturday mornings.
Cruise lines are slowly restarting operations from Bridgetown. Celebrity Cruises has already resumed sailings on board Celebrity Summit, and will be joined by Seabourn later this month, followed by Windstar and Crystal (from August), Royal Caribbean (from September) and P&O (from October).
We sample the diverse flavours of the region, liberally seasoned with myriad influences from cultures and cuisines around the world
Food is a major part of the charm of the Caribbean, with each island serving its own specialities, be it saltfish, jerk chicken, or rice and peas. These are dishes passed down through the generations and shaped by the region’s myriad cultures and influences.
One destination that sums up the evolution of Caribbean cuisine is Trinidad and Tobago. Here, generations of sailors and refugees from as far away as the Middle East and China have left their mark on the local food scene. An example is the popular street snack doubles, a variation on the Indian dish chana dal, or curried chickpeas topped with spicy chutneys.
Influences like this mean that Caribbean food is not all fish and seafood, but it is this that will probably beckon first. One dish that might be under the radar is conch, a giant whelk-like mollusc found particularly in the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos. You will also find it in the Cayman Islands where there is an incredible array of local fresh seafood available. Here, it is served in stews, soups and fritters and often presented as a ceviche – raw slices marinated in lime juice with other flavours. Other seafood options include Cayman-style lobster and wahoo – a sweet, succulent white fish of the mackerel family. There’s also lionfish, an invasive species, which following chef Thomas Tennant’s innovation (upon hearing that lionfish were becoming a problem around Grand Cayman, he turned them into a delicacy) is now in high demand with local chefs and restaurants.
Back on land, another local staple is ackee, Jamaica’s national fruit, which traces its origins to Ghana and the slave trade and is an integral part of saltfish cuisine. Saltfish and many other Caribbean dishes get their heat from another key ingredient, the Scotch bonnet chilli pepper, which, despite its name, is native to the Caribbean and is also called the bonney pepper, or just plain Caribbean red pepper. Beware: they are anything but plain.
When it comes to meat dishes, Cuba is perhaps an anomaly in the region in that limited boat ownership means many restaurants are more likely to major in meat dishes. The growing number of paladares – restaurants set up in private homes – mean excellent home-cooking is now widely available. Goat, in curried form, is another Caribbean staple and one that made its way from Asia; it is widely served in the region and is a particular Jamaican favourite.
The islands attract an upmarket clientele, and where there is demand, it is attended to in style. Try the late Gary Rhodes’ restaurant at Calabash in Grenada, or Daphne’s in Barbados, sister establishment to that in London’s Kensington. Whatever your tastes or budget, the islands will cater for you.
Originally published in the ABTA Magazine Guide to the Caribbean. By Gary Noakes.
Undersea exploration in the Caribbean is more than a rite of passage; with so many sites to experience, it’s a lifetime’s work
The Caribbean’s dive smarts don’t end with its excellent visibility and famously abundant and diverse marine life. From wreck and shark dives to subterranean sinkholes and epic walls, it truly is a one-stop shop for divers of all abilities.
Accessible options for newbies eager to tick off a good range of sightings include Cozumel. With dive sites such as Colombia Wall and Palancar Reef, the Mexican island is a certified crowd-pleaser that caters to all-comers. Top picks for more advanced divers include the islands of St Croix and Saba, off St Maarten, while Bonaire, in the Dutch Caribbean, has long been heralded as the region’s top spot for shore diving, backed by sites such as 1,000 steps and Alice in Wonderland.
One of the region’s bucket-list staples is Belize’s Great Blue Hole. Typically coupled with nearby dive sites such as Half Moon Caye Wall, which offer more varieties of marine life, including pelagics, the sinkhole spans 300m across and descends around 125m into the seabed.
Whale sharks are one of the big seasonal star turns, with April and May the best time to see them in Belize. Other hotspots include the waters off Cancún, Mexico and Utila, in Honduras, where your best chances of seeing some of the world’s biggest fish are March to April and August to September.
Other Honduran high points include diving with Caribbean reef sharks at Cara Cara, off the island of Roatan. Speaking of sharks, the island of Bimini in the Bahamas remains one of the go-to places to swim with great hammerheads, large numbers of which gather offshore each February.
Spots to look for humpback whales include the waters off Silver Bank, in the Dominican Republic, where pregnant mothers come each spring to calf and mate. Head to Dominica in January or February and you can spot male sperm whales off the coast, as well as the more commonly seen female and baby ones. The only hitch is you’ll have to free dive – or try to spot them from the surface – as scuba gear is prohibited.
Popular wreck dives include the USS Kittiwake – a purposefully sunk, 77m ship off Grand Cayman, known for its marine life, rich wall dives and shark encounters at East End. Sitting at 20m below the surface, the Kittiwake is mere minutes by boat from Seven Mile Beach.
Other accessible, intentionally sunk wrecks include Lesleen M, easily accessible off Anse Chastanet, St Lucia’s prime base for divers. While you won’t find big pelagics off Anse Chastanet, you will find impressive corals and humungous sponges.
Grenada is another notable wreck destination, with popular sites including the enormous former passenger ship MV Bianca C. Other sizeable options include the Antilla in Aruba’s Malmok Bay, a 121m scuttled Second World War German freighter.
Some dive sites tick several boxes. Take the Bahamas, where you can enjoy shark encounters while diving the Ray of Hope wreck off Nassau before going on to spy all manner of marine life diving the nearby wall.
For a twist, try securing a permit to dive Jamaica’s infamous Pirate City of Port Royal, lost beneath the waves in the late 17th century.