Searches for holidays in Spain and Greece increase more than 50 per cent says TravelSupermarket


Searches for package holidays to Spain this summer have increased by 52 per cent, Greece by 51 per cent and Portugal by 38 per cent in the past fortnight on the back of news that European tourism is reopening and quarantine-free air bridges can be established.

There have been 40 per cent more price comparison searches for July, August and September holidays in the past two weeks. That’s according to searches on holiday price comparison site TravelSupermarket from May 16 to 30 compared with the previous fortnight, for package holidays overseas departing between July 1 and October 31 this year.

Portugal has gone up two places in the search rankings in the past fortnight, compared with the start of May, to become the fifth most popular summer holiday search option for Britons.

Searches for package holidays to Spain this summer have increased by 52 per cent, Greece by 51 per cent and Portugal by 38 per cent, says TravelSupermarket 

This uptake in searches for Portuguese holidays is on the back of of the country’s announcement that it is hoping to welcome holidaymakers including Britons as soon as possible and will not quarantine them.

Greece has also been one of the first countries in Europe to say it wants to welcome back international holidaymakers – international flights will be operating to its two largest mainland airports from mid-June.

Similarly, Spain has been outlining in the past two weeks its desire for tourists to return in July and for the summer season to be salvaged.

According to TravelSupermarket, as Britons look to get away when lockdown restrictions are lifted, the country of choice to visit before the end of October is Spain.

In second place is Greece followed by the United States, Turkey and Portugal.

When it comes to more specific destinations, the top ten most-searched-for places by Britons in the past fortnight for a holiday to depart between July 1 and October 30, 2020, are Las Vegas (first), Tenerife (second), the Maldives (third), the Costa Blanca (fourth), Dubai (fifth), Orlando (sixth), Canary Islands (seventh), Majorca (eighth), Amsterdam (ninth) and Crete (10th). 

An uptake in searches for Portuguese holidays is on the back of of the country’s announcement that it is hoping to welcome holidaymakers including Britons as soon as possible and will not quarantine them. Pictured is a beach in the Algarve

An uptake in searches for Portuguese holidays is on the back of of the country’s announcement that it is hoping to welcome holidaymakers including Britons as soon as possible and will not quarantine them. Pictured is a beach in the Algarve 

BRITONS’ MOST POPULAR HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS

Most popular destinations to search for a holiday for between July 1 and October 30, 2020

1. Las Vegas

2. Tenerife

3. The Maldives

4. Costa Blanca

5. Dubai

6. Orlando

7. Canary Islands

8. Majorca

9. Amsterdam

10. Crete

Most popular countries to search for a holiday after lockdown, any departure date

1. Spain

2. U.S

3. Greece

4. Maldives

5. Turkey

6. Mexico

7. Italy

8. Portugal

9. Cyprus

10. Unite Arab Emirates

Source: TravelSupermarket 

TravelSupermarket points out that searches for package holidays to Crete have shot up by 73 per cent in the past two weeks – it was in 19th place.

The website says this comes as many airlines and holiday companies say they will resume flights to the Greek Islands from the beginning of July.

Package holiday price enquiries to Tenerife have increased by 36 per cent and to the Costa Blanca by 46 per cent, taking holidays to resorts including Benidorm from seventh to fourth most popular with Britons.

Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator from TravelSupermarket, said: ‘There are more people searching for a holiday now for this summer than there were at the beginning of May. Talk of air bridges and countries opening up to tourism appears to be getting people searching and comparing holiday prices.

TravelSupermarket says that package holiday price enquiries to the Costa Blanca, pictured, have increased by 46 per cent

TravelSupermarket says that package holiday price enquiries to the Costa Blanca, pictured, have increased by 46 per cent

‘Holiday prices have also been creeping down in the past fortnight and there are some good prices on offer. However, the reality is that we don’t yet know when Brits will be able to travel again.

‘The Foreign and Commonwealth Office indefinite advice against anything but essential travel remains in place and there is no indication of when this will be lifted. It is wait and see as to which countries will let Britons travel there and when – and when the UK Government will allow Brits to travel overseas for holidays again. The UK 14 day quarantine is also set to come in on Monday (June 8) and to be reviewed in the last week of June.

‘Despite the increase in people searching for holidays for this summer in the past week, people are clicking through from our site and booking with travel companies for next summer, more than they are for this summer. There needs to be more certainty before people are willing to take the plunge on this summer more than next.’

HOLIDAY SEARCHES IN THE PAST FORTNIGHT FOR ANY FUTURE DEPARTURE DATE

TravelSupermarket also looked at the most popular holiday searches for all dates in the future, not just this summer.

The most-searched-for destination between May 16 and 30 was the Maldives, followed by Las Vegas and Orlando.

Tenerife was in fourth place, New York fifth and Cancun was sixth. The Costa Blanca came seventh with the Canary Islands eighth, Dubai ninth and Amsterdam 10th.

The rest of the top 20 most-popular searches in the past fortnight were Lanzarote (11th), Ibiza (12th), Majorca (13th), Dominican Republic (14th), Bali (15th), Barbados (16th), Cape Verde (17th), Jamaica (18th), Hawaii (19th) and The Algarve (20th).

The most-searched-for destination for all departures in the future between May 16 and 30 was the Maldives, pictured

The most-searched-for destination for all departures in the future between May 16 and 30 was the Maldives, pictured 

Island escapes seem particularly popular as 11 of the top 20 most popular searches are to islands.

TravelSupermarket says that Ibiza has seen the biggest jump in search interest in the past two weeks, up 85 per cent, taking it from the 22nd to the 11th most-searched destination for a future holiday from the UK.

The website points out that the Balearic Islands, as a whole, have seen a 55 per cent increase in clicks in the past fortnight.

There has been a 48 per cent increase in searches to Portugal, taking it from 13th to the eighth most-searched country for holidays from the UK in the space of a fortnight and there has been a 45 per cent increase in holiday prices searches to Greece.

Spain has seen a 43 per cent increase in holiday price searches as has Italy, says TravelSupermarket. 

Other destinations that have seen a significant uplift in searches in the past fortnight are Crete (68 per cent), the Costa del Sol (63 per cent), Tenerife (46 per cent), Lanzarote (44 per cent), Rhodes (44 per cent), Goa (40 per cent), the Algarve (38 per cent), Santorini (37 per cent) and Cancun (36 per cent).

The most popular country on British holidaymakers’ wishlists to visit after lockdown is Spain (No1), followed by the U.S, Greece, the Maldives and Turkey.

The rest of the top 10 comprises Mexico (sixth), Italy (seventh), Portugal (eighth), Cyprus (ninth) and the United Arab Emirates (10th).

THE MOST POPULAR MONTHS FOR A HOLIDAY

When looking at all holiday searches in May on TravelSupermarket, the price comparison website says that October 2020 is the most popular departure month. It is followed by September 2020, December 2020 and May 2021.

Data shows that the most popular destinations to search for an October 2020 holiday are the Canary Islands, Las Vegas, Dubai, the Costa Blanca and New York.

Las Vegas, pictured, is one of the most popular destinations for searches for a holiday for October 2020

Las Vegas, pictured, is one of the most popular destinations for searches for a holiday for October 2020 

The most popular destinations that Britons are comparing prices for in September are the Costa Blanca, Tenerife, Crete, Dubai and Las Vegas.

For December, the wish list is headed up by New York, followed by Tenerife, Lanzarote, the Maldives and Dubai.

For May 2021, British holidaymakers are looking and booking ahead for holidays to Orlando, followed by Majorca, the Maldives, the Balearic Islands and the Costa Blanca.

For departures being looked at for this July and August, the most price comparison searches are for the Canary and Balearic Islands and the resorts in and around Antalya in Turkey.

Other price comparison sites are available.  

BARGAIN HOLIDAY PRICE EXAMPLES FOR 2020  

Ibiza, three-star self-catering departing on August 17 for two adults and two school-aged children for seven nights from £326pp, reduced from £435pp.

Costa del Sol, four-star self-catering departing on August 19 for seven nights for two adults and two school-aged children from £354pp, reduced from £428pp.

Costa Blanca, four-star self-catering for seven nights departing on September 9 for two from £285pp, reduced from £373pp.

Rhodes, four-star self-catering departing on September 19 for seven nights for two from £142pp.

Dubai, five-star half-board departing on October 18 for seven nights for two from £470pp, reduced from £542pp.

Source: TravelSupermarket (prices correct as of June 2, 2020). 

Easyjet to resume flights to almost 75% of network by August


Easyjet says it will resume flights to almost 75% of its network by August – and all passengers and crew will have to wear face masks on board

  • The airline said it plans to fly 50% of routes in July and up to 75% by August
  • It said it will fly to and from its UK bases to a selection of European destinations
  • The carrier is also launching what it claims is its ‘biggest ever summer sale’ 
  • FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

EasyJet has announced it will resume flying to almost three-quarters of its route network by August.

The airline is also launching what it claims is its ‘biggest ever summer sale’ with over one million flights to holiday destinations across Europe on offer from £29.99 for travel between July 1 and October 31, 2020.

Onboard, all passengers and crew will be required to wear face masks.

EasyJet has announced it will resume flying to almost three-quarters of its route network by August. Onboard, all passengers and crew will be required to wear face masks

EasyJet said it plans to fly 50 per cent of its 1,022 routes in July and 75 per cent in August, although flight frequency will be much lower, equating to around 30 per cent of normal July to September capacity.

This will include flying to and from its UK bases across July and August to a selection of destinations for summer holidays.

The airline said that although there will be fewer flights on offer, ‘customers will have the choice of flights to domestic, city and beach destinations’.

These include cities such as Paris, Milan and Rome; ‘summer sun favourites’ the Balearics and Canary Islands; ‘lively and culturally rich hotspots’ in Italy, Croatia and Portugal and ‘even further afield to exotic destinations, Egypt and Morocco’.

The airline has confirmed that some flights will initially resume from June 15 including those from London Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Belfast in the UK.

EasyJet has also revealed it has teamed up with superhero illustrator Will Sliney to create comic-book-inspired face mask covers for children flying this summer.

EasyJet said it plans to fly 50 per cent of its 1,022 routes in July and 75 per cent in August, although with a lower frequency of flights

EasyJet said it plans to fly 50 per cent of its 1,022 routes in July and 75 per cent in August, although with a lower frequency of flights

The carrier said the new comic book face mask covers had been designed to ‘help ease the experience for both kids and parents’.

As well as the requirement of masks for passengers and crew, other safety measures will also be put in place for flights this summer.

These will include enhanced aircraft disinfection and, initially, no onboard food service.

EasyJet said the additional cleaning and disinfection procedures for aircraft cabins are on top of an existing daily aircraft cleaning schedule.

It added: ‘Every aircraft will be subject to a daily disinfection process which provides surface protection from viruses that lasts for at least 24 hours.’

In addition, customers are being advised to check-in online and use automated bag drops in the airport, if available.

The airline is also launching what it claims is its 'biggest ever summer sale' with over one million flights to holiday destinations across Europe on offer from £29.99 for travel between July 1 and October 31, 2020

The airline is also launching what it claims is its ‘biggest ever summer sale’ with over one million flights to holiday destinations across Europe on offer from £29.99 for travel between July 1 and October 31, 2020

The airline said social distancing would be encouraged at airport gates and during boarding.

EasyJet explained: ‘The measures have been implemented in consultation with aviation authorities ICAO and EASA, and in line with relevant national authorities and medical advice through the airline’s chief medical adviser.’

Robert Carey, chief commercial and planning officer at easyJet, said: ‘We are delighted to announce that we will be flying the majority of our route network across Europe, meaning customers can still get to their chosen destination for their summer holidays this year.

‘We’re passionate about helping our customers get back flying, which is why we’re offering one million seats at £29.99 for those planning on booking a holiday this summer.

‘Travel restrictions are being lifted and demand is starting to return, so there’s no better time for us to introduce this sale.’ 

The FCO currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.

NEW MEASURES ON EASYJET FLIGHTS

EasyJet said additional cleaning and disinfection procedures for aircraft cabins are on top of an existing daily aircraft cleaning schedule

EasyJet said additional cleaning and disinfection procedures for aircraft cabins are on top of an existing daily aircraft cleaning schedule

AIRPORT MEASURES

To protect customers and ground crew in the airport, easyJet said customers will be able to use automated bag drops to check in their hold luggage and screens will be in place at check-in desks at airports where auto bag drop is not available.

Ground crew and cabin will not handle any customer documents during boarding and customers will be asked to present and scan their own documents. EasyJet said it already encourages all customers to check-in online and download their boarding pass onto their smartphone or to print their own boarding passes before arriving at the airport.

The airline’s ground crew will also wear gloves and masks at all times when transporting customer luggage to and from the aircraft.

The airline added that further recommendations from airports indicate there may also be measures in place such as self-declaration health forms to be completed ahead of departure and temperature screening.

The carrier said it is working with all airports where it operates to understand what measures will be in place to protect customers.

ON BOARD MEASURES

On board, all passengers and crew will be required to wear masks at all times and initially when flights restart, the ‘Bistro and Boutique service’ will not be available.

Furthermore, easyJet said all flights will be equipped with spare sanitary equipment including masks, gloves and hand sanitiser to ensure these are available to customers and crew at all times on board if required.

The airline pointed out that its aircraft are already fitted with state-of-the-art filtration technology. It added that high-efficiency particle arresting filters filter 99.97 per cent of airborne contaminants in the cabin, including viruses and bacteria. These filters are ‘the same as those used in hospitals and through them, the cabin air gets replaced every three to four minutes’.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

EasyJet said customers will be able to practice social distancing in the airports, at gates and during boarding. Onboard, and where possible, the crew will invite customers to sit at distance from customers not in their party where seats are available.

EasyJet said it will continue to work with the relevant national authorities to review and assess what measures are required in the longer term.

No screaming and no high-fives: Japanese funfairs release rules for the coronavirus era


No screaming, no high-fives and haunted house ghosts will scare victims from a safe distance: Japanese funfairs release rules for the coronavirus era

  • Japanese funfair operators have released guidelines on how to safely operate
  • Characters dressed in costume cannot handshake or high five other guests 
  • Superheroes fighting villains should avoid whipping up support from spectators
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

No screaming on the roller coaster, socially distant spooks in the haunted house and please refrain from high-fiving your favourite superhero: welcome to Japanese amusement parks in the coronavirus era.

As Japan’s funfairs slowly reopen, a group of park operators have released joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus.

Among the recommendations, thrill-seekers will be asked to wear masks at all times and ‘refrain from vocalising loudly’ on roller coasters and other rides.

As Japan’s funfairs slowly reopen, a group of park operators have released joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus – and ‘vocalising loudly’ on roller coasters is a no-no 

‘Ghosts’ lurking in haunted houses should maintain a healthy distance from their ‘victims’, the guidelines add.

Park staff, including those dressed up as stuffed animal mascots and superheroes, should not shake hands or high-five with young fans but maintain an appropriate distance.

Superheroes engaged in fights to the death with evil villains should also avoid whipping up support from spectators to prevent screams  – and potentially coronavirus-laden droplets – from flying through the air.

Virtual reality attractions should not operate unless the special glasses or goggles can be fully sanitised, the guidelines suggest.

And perhaps to parents’ relief, vendors will be asked to refrain from putting out toys or food samples for young visitors to touch, play with or eat.

‘These guidelines will not bring infections to zero, but will reduce the risk of infection,’ the operators admit, pledging to continue studying ways to bring down transmission risks.

Japan's best-known theme parks - Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, pictured - remain closed

Japan’s best-known theme parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, pictured – remain closed 

Japan’s best-known theme parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in the western city of Osaka – remain closed with no date yet set for reopening.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted a nationwide state of emergency after a sharp drop in the number of coronavirus cases in Japan.

Citizens and businesses have been urged to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in the coronavirus era, including mask-wearing and social distancing where possible.

No screaming and no high-fives: Japanese funfairs release rules for the coronavirus era


No screaming, no high-fives and haunted house ghosts will scare victims from a safe distance: Japanese funfairs release rules for the coronavirus era

  • Japanese funfair operators have released guidelines on how to safely operate
  • Characters dressed in costume cannot handshake or high five other guests 
  • Superheroes fighting villains should avoid whipping up support from spectators
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

No screaming on the roller coaster, socially distant spooks in the haunted house and please refrain from high-fiving your favourite superhero: welcome to Japanese amusement parks in the coronavirus era.

As Japan’s funfairs slowly reopen, a group of park operators have released joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus.

Among the recommendations, thrill-seekers will be asked to wear masks at all times and ‘refrain from vocalising loudly’ on roller coasters and other rides.

As Japan’s funfairs slowly reopen, a group of park operators have released joint guidelines on how to operate safely under the threat of the virus – and ‘vocalising loudly’ on roller coasters is a no-no 

‘Ghosts’ lurking in haunted houses should maintain a healthy distance from their ‘victims’, the guidelines add.

Park staff, including those dressed up as stuffed animal mascots and superheroes, should not shake hands or high-five with young fans but maintain an appropriate distance.

Superheroes engaged in fights to the death with evil villains should also avoid whipping up support from spectators to prevent screams  – and potentially coronavirus-laden droplets – from flying through the air.

Virtual reality attractions should not operate unless the special glasses or goggles can be fully sanitised, the guidelines suggest.

And perhaps to parents’ relief, vendors will be asked to refrain from putting out toys or food samples for young visitors to touch, play with or eat.

‘These guidelines will not bring infections to zero, but will reduce the risk of infection,’ the operators admit, pledging to continue studying ways to bring down transmission risks.

Japan's best-known theme parks - Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, pictured - remain closed

Japan’s best-known theme parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, pictured – remain closed 

Japan’s best-known theme parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan in the western city of Osaka – remain closed with no date yet set for reopening.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted a nationwide state of emergency after a sharp drop in the number of coronavirus cases in Japan.

Citizens and businesses have been urged to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in the coronavirus era, including mask-wearing and social distancing where possible.

Virgin Atlantic A350 captain asks travellers to ‘buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper’


‘Buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper.’

That’s the plea from the most senior A350 training captain at Virgin Atlantic, Chris Pohl. And his request has gone viral.

Captain Pohl, 56, who has been flying for 38 years, posted a picture of himself holding up a piece of cardboard carrying the message to his Instagram profile – and it has now received over 4,100 ‘likes’. And he said he’d received messages of support from all over the world.

‘Buy airline tickets like you bought toilet paper.’ That’s the plea from the most senior A350 training captain at Virgin Atlantic, Chris Pohl. He posted the above image to his Instagram profile, and it’s gone viral

Customers are even using the hashtag #buyairlineticketslikeyouboughttoiletpaper in WhatsApp exchanges with Virgin Atlantic customer service teams.

Captain Pohl, who has logged 24,000 flying hours, explained that the inspiration came from Instagram sensation @dudewithsign, whose similarly styled pronouncements have led to 7.5million followers, and @pilotcharlotte, who posted a similar message.

His Instagram caption reads: ‘I have been following @dudewithsign since I started on Instagram and I saw @pilotcharlotte posted a similar message. I put them together to make my own version.’

The Australian, who lives in south-west France, near Toulouse, hopes that the photo, which was taken at the top of his son’s BMX ramp at their home, will help to ‘get the world flying again’.

The caption continues: ‘Please re-post and pass this message to everyone you know, because it’s real. We need the world to start booking tickets, which will allow airlines to fill aircraft and get us all flying again.

‘The only thing holding us back, is you, our loyal customers/passengers, without you, we’re grounded. Let’s get the world flying again.’

Captain Pohl, pictured, who has logged 24,000 flying hours, explained that the inspiration for his photo came from @dudewithsign, whose similarly styled pronouncements have led to 7.5million followers, and @pilotcharlotte, who posted a similar message

Captain Pohl, pictured, who has logged 24,000 flying hours, explained that the inspiration for his photo came from @dudewithsign, whose similarly styled pronouncements have led to 7.5million followers, and @pilotcharlotte, who posted a similar message

Captain Pohl told MailOnline Travel: ‘[Since posting the picture] I’ve had hundreds of DMs, texts, emails, WhatsApp messages and Facebook messages, plus many calls. Messages arriving from all over the world. Many travel agents are asking to use the image, and of course, the answer is yes. This photo is not about me, it’s about sending a fun message to get people motivated to buy airline tickets.’

Frequent flyer Gilbert Ott, who runs the travel tips site God Save The Points, gave the post his backing.

He said: ‘I think he got the timing right. Safety concerns are on the way down, borders are opening… We need to get confidence back up and get the travel bug going.’

Captain Pohl explained that the Covid-19 crisis had hit travel and aviation ‘like nothing ever before’.

He said: ‘In all my years flying, I have never experienced a crisis like this, including 9/11 and Sars.

‘My colleagues and I at Virgin Atlantic are optimistic. We know that as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery and as the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand gradually returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to their favourite destinations.

‘Our teams are working really hard to ensure the health and safety of our people and our customers, and when we resume flying, we’ll be implementing new measures to offer peace of mind for our customers and our people when taking to the skies.

‘There’s so much uncertainty created by the 14-day UK quarantine that people are not sure if or when they can fly.’

Captain Pohl explained that the Covid-19 crisis had hit travel and aviation 'like nothing ever before'. Pictured is a Virgin Atlantic A350

Captain Pohl explained that the Covid-19 crisis had hit travel and aviation ‘like nothing ever before’. Pictured is a Virgin Atlantic A350

Captain Pohl said Virgin Atlantic has been operating repatriation flights and vital cargo runs.

He added: ‘We’re assisting the FCO with repatriation flights, bringing stranded Britons back to the UK. Most recently bringing people back from Lagos.

‘And also, for the first time in our history, we’re flying cargo-only flights, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re also partnering with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on cargo charters from Shanghai and Beijing, bringing in essential PPE that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients.’



How hotels across the UK have been helping our Covid heroes


Hotels’ reward for our Covid heroes: The extraordinary ways hotels across the UK have been helping their local communities through the pandemic

  • Seaham Hall hotel, County Durham, cooks 400 meals a week for local hospitals
  • London’s Strand Palace Hotel delivers food to ambulance control rooms  
  • Best Western chain sends handwritten letters to those isolated by the pandemic

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: the hidden heroes in our finest hotels.

In hotels across the country, from city-centre sites to country house spas, staff are finding extraordinary ways to help their local communities through the pandemic.

Several celebrity hoteliers won praise from the start, including former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, who gave NHS staff free use of every room in their two Manchester hotels when lockdown began.

Reaching out: Staff at The Berkeley hotel drive-through offer free meals to emergency responders

Since then, big-name hotels including London’s Claridges have welcomed NHS staff into rooms, while nearby Berkeley Hotel launched a drive-through so police, ambulance and other emergency services staff could get free food and drink from its kitchens.

But all around the country, other initiatives are taking place far below the radar…

Boutique Seaham Hall hotel and spa in County Durham reopened its kitchens and now cooks about 400 meals a week for local hospitals, while London’s Strand Palace Hotel delivers food to ambulance control rooms across the capital.

In Cornwall, kitchen staff at The Railway Hotel in Saltash don’t stop at preparing food for needy locals. They’ve also set up a shopping service for self-isolating neighbours.

Other hotels are donating items they don’t need while rooms are empty. The Mandeville Hotel in London puts shampoos, conditioners and toothbrushes from guest bedrooms into ‘wellbeing boxes’ for staff at nearby St Mary’s Hospital. Meanwhile, Rockliffe Hall, on the edge of the North York Moors, offers shower gels and other goodies from empty rooms to patients at Darlington Hospital.

The Cary Arms hotel and spa in Torquay decided to do some good with different bits of kit it didn’t need during lockdown, such as donating excess cleaning supplies to local families in need, while Gravetye Manor in East Sussex bunched up thousands of tulips it had earmarked for rooms and donated them to staff at the nearby Queen Victoria Hospital.

Many hotel groups say they will support staff in whatever charitable activities they choose. That led to the Bespoke Group helping staff at Oddfellows Chester and Cotswold House hotels prepare boxes of sandwiches, scones and cakes so they could serve afternoon tea at care homes.

In hotels across the country staff are finding extraordinary ways to help their local communities through the pandemic.  Pictured is a member of staff from The Berkeley hotel - one of London's most exclusive properties - feeding paramedics with free food and drinks

In hotels across the country staff are finding extraordinary ways to help their local communities through the pandemic.  Pictured is a member of staff from The Berkeley hotel – one of London’s most exclusive properties – feeding paramedics with free food and drinks

For hotels in the Blue Orchid group, including Tower Suites by London’s Tower Bridge, the result was a ‘Here To help’ initiative to deliver anything from food to books to vulnerable locals.

At the Best Western chain, which had already offered 15,000 rooms to NHS staff, staff wanted to focus on those isolated by the pandemic. So if customers nominate someone who is on their own, the company sends a handwritten letter as part of its Wave With Words scheme.

In Scotland, the seven-strong Cerar Group, which includes the Loch Fyne Hotel, also expanded its offering after talking to staff, promising free weekend stays to NHS staff when the crisis is over. Now it’s teaming up with local businesses to provide free experiences from boat trips to whisky tastings.

Finally, a host of hotels are joining forces to give free nights to key workers when the time is right. Find out more about this scheme by visiting nwightsonus.org and mytravelpledge.com.

Travel bubbles? Air bridges? What DOES it mean for summer holidays? Here are the answers you need


There has been a lot of talk this week about ‘air bridges’ and how they might offer holidaymakers a chance to enjoy a couple of weeks away. 

Nothing has been firmed up yet, while pressure continues to be exerted on the Government to think again about its 14-day quarantine rule for all those arriving in the UK. 

Here are the answers you need.

There has been a lot of talk this week about ‘air bridges’ and how they might offer holidaymakers a chance to enjoy a couple of weeks away

Q. What exactly are these ‘air bridges’ that we keep hearing so much about?

A. Special agreements — or pacts — between individual countries to allow holidaymakers to travel quarantine-free this summer.

Q. Fine, so what on earth is a ‘travel corridor’?

A. Another term for air bridge.

Q. And how about this other phrase, ‘travel bubble’?

A. Same again. Yes, the terminology has been unhelpful.

Q. Are there any air bridges in operation yet?

A. No, but there could be if the Government is able to strike up deals. Then we might be able to go on an overseas holiday this summer.

Tourist hotspot: An Orthodox church in Santorini, Greece

Tourist hotspot: An Orthodox church in Santorini, Greece

Q. How likely is this to happen in actuality?

A. Don’t start packing just yet. However, there is growing optimism for mid-July onwards as governments in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy have all made encouraging sounds — tourism being key to their economies.

Spain looks most probable as it has announced there will be no quarantine on visitors from July 1 and it is by far our favourite holiday destination. 

Portugal also looks a strong contender, having already said it is in favour of an arrangement of some kind.

Q. What is holding back the other countries from inviting us?

A. Britain having the worst coronavirus record in Europe is worrying some nations, particularly Greece and Croatia.

Q. If the number of cases in Britain drops, might other countries be interested in air bridges, too?

A. Potentially. If numbers of coronavirus fall to very low levels — and who knows how long this will take — fruitful talks could begin.

Q. Are there any other hurdles that might get in our way?

A. Yes. On June 8, the Government is introducing a quarantine requiring 14 days of self-isolation for Britons returning to the UK. Online ‘contact locator forms’ must be filled in and police will carry out spot checks with fines of up to £1,000 for breaches.

Q. Is there anything else would-be travellers have to contend with?

A. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises against all non-essential overseas travel, meaning travel insurance is invalid and it is very risky to travel without cover.

Q. So we may as well stop dreaming of a summer holiday, then?

A. Some industry insiders actually think the opposite.

Plenty of last-minute bargains are likely. Tour operators — as well as foreign hoteliers and tourist boards — are desperate to re-start tourism

Plenty of last-minute bargains are likely. Tour operators — as well as foreign hoteliers and tourist boards — are desperate to re-start tourism

Q. Why would they think that — the odds seem stacked against it?

A. Britain’s quarantine policy is being reviewed every three weeks. The first review could be around June 12, and the next around July 3.

It is possible, say travel industry insiders, that if other countries are keen, the quarantine could be dropped to create air bridges at some point. Many MPs have been campaigning for the Government to reconsider the quarantine.

Q. What about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice?

A. That will have to change, too – which it could feasibly at any moment.

Q. What does Britain’s leading tour operator say about all this?

A. Tui’s overseas package holidays for Germans are likely to restart on June 14. The first destinations Tui will be offering German holidaymakers will be the Balearics, the Canaries, Cyprus and Greece. British holidaymakers could follow soon after if all the above problems are resolved.

Q. If air bridges happen, will there be some good deals?

A. Plenty of last-minute bargains are likely. Tour operators — as well as foreign hoteliers and tourist boards — are desperate to re-start tourism.

When it comes to booking a holiday, the only sensible policy is to hold off. If you want a trip overseas this summer, patience will be key

When it comes to booking a holiday, the only sensible policy is to hold off. If you want a trip overseas this summer, patience will be key

Q. All of this sounds complicated — why can’t I just buy Ryanair or Wizz Air tickets and take my chances before then?

A. You can, but you would be uninsured, you will have to find a country who would let you in and you would face a quarantine period on your return to Britain.

Q. Maybe it’s best to gamble and book a package in, say, late July or August now as there’s likely to be a stampede if air bridges do go ahead later?

A. Not a good idea. There are too many ifs and buts. The only sensible policy is to hold off. If you want a trip overseas this summer, patience will be key.

Q. What if I own a property in France or Spain and want to go for a break?

A. Keep following FCO advice and stay abreast of Government announcements.

Q. Any other suggestions that might help me to take a break?

A. How about a holiday in the UK? Or put your feet up in the back garden and save for a ‘trip of a lifetime’ next year.

Q. All this sounds promising but what about Test and Trace?

A. If you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service as someone who has been in contact with another person who has had coronavirus, you must self-isolate for 14 days, so no holiday until that’s over.

Q. What would happen then — would I get a refund?

A. In the UK, you will be due a full refund, although you may have to postpone if that is in the terms and conditions. If you are travelling overseas, you will be asked to claim a refund on your travel insurance, says Tui. If that is not possible, Tui is requesting customers to re-book for a later date

HOW OTHER COUNTRIES ARE SHAPING UP

PORTUGAL

Hotels: Reopening on Monday. They can display ‘Clean & Safe’ stamps to prove they have introduced hygiene and safety procedures. Rooms must be unoccupied for 24 hours between guests for deep cleaning. Some campsites in the Algarve opened last week.

Restaurants and bars: Open at half capacity and closing at 11pm.

Beaches: Due to reopen on June 6. Umbrellas will be spaced three metres apart. Tourists can download an app which will use a traffic-light system to indicate beach capacity.

Transport: Wizz Air will restart flights from June 16; Ryanair from July 1. Temperature checks on arrival.

Quarantine: Hopefully not. The UK is in talks to create an ‘air bridge’ with Portugal.

SPAIN

Hotels: Many have reopened, with limited access to communal spaces.

Restaurants and bars: Outdoor seating areas have opened at half capacity. Most will be fully operational next week.

Beaches: Open, but some are limiting capacity and sectioning off areas for vulnerable groups.

Transport: International flights resuming early July.

Quarantine: Yes. To be lifted from July 1.

ITALY

Hotels: Reopening from next week with reduced capacity and a two-metre distance policy.

Restaurants and bars: Reopened on May 18 with tables being spaced two metres apart.

Beaches: Most are open, with umbrellas five metres apart.

Transport: Flights resuming from June 3 when travel between regions will also be permitted.

Quarantine: Yes. To be lifted June 3.

CYPRUS

Hotels: Begin opening on Monday. Guests required to keep two metres apart.

Restaurants and bars: Open with tables spaced at least two metres apart.

Beaches: Reopened last week. Regularly disinfected sunbeds and beach bar tables are being kept two metres apart.

Transport: Some international flights will begin on June 9.

Quarantine: No. Passengers are currently required to undergo a coronavirus test three days prior to departure. This will be lifted from June 9 for some countries, and reviewed every week. Temperatures will be taken on arrival.

A 100-bed hospital is being built for travellers who test positive. Cyprus’s government has pledged to cover all costs for every holidaymaker testing positive and their family.

GREECE

Hotels: Open from June 15, campsites from June 1.

Restaurants and bars: Reopened on Monday with tables set two metres apart and waiters wearing masks.

Beaches: Many accessible, with umbrellas spaced four metres apart, some surrounded by protective screens, and a limit of 40 people per 1,000 square metres.

Transport: International flights resume on July 1. Ferry services to its islands started on Monday.

Quarantine: Yes. This week Greece left the UK off a list of countries that can visit from June 15 without self-isolating.

FRANCE

Hotels: Open June 2, when travel limits are lifted.

Restaurants and bars: Also resuming business from June 2. Some restrictions will still in place in the worst-hit regions.

Beaches: Most reopening next week. Some will have time slots.

Transport: International flights resuming next month.

Quarantine: Borders closed until June 15, when EU tourists may be able to return. UK travellers will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

By Harriet Sime

Handshakes and hugs are out – here’s the new global etiquette from the Thai wai to the Zambian clap


Nice to meet you: Handshakes and hugs are out — so what’s the new global etiquette?

  • Handshakes and hugs were stopped when the coronavirus pandemic took hold
  • But there are alternative greetings – and not only the ‘Wuhan shake’ foot-tap
  • There’s the Thai Wai, the Hawaiian shaka sign as well as the formal Japanese bow 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Arriving at the Prince’s Trust Awards in March, Prince Charles was about to go in for a handshake when, mindful of social-distancing rules, he quickly changed tack.

He offered a namaste instead, putting palms together with his fingers pointing up — the traditional Hindu salutation.

Handshakes and hugs were abandoned overnight when the pandemic took hold. 

New normal? In Japan, people tend to greet one another with a formal bow

Such changes in greetings may mean air kisses on an eventual trip to France are met with a Gallic shrug, and the Maori hongi, where people press their noses and foreheads together, is consigned to history.

Anthony Fauci, a leading U.S. public health official, has said: ‘I don’t think we should ever shake hands again.’

It’s a hard habit to break. The humble handshake dates back to Ancient Greek and Roman times, and featured in their art as a symbol of peace.

It’s believed it was born out of distrust, however. Romans grasped each other’s forearms to check there were no daggers hidden up their sleeves. But there are alternatives — and not only the ‘Wuhan shake’ foot-tap.

The Thai wai, for example, involves bowing your head with your palms together, as a gesture of openness. It’s popular in south-east Asia and is used in prayer and dance.

Meanwhile, the formal bow was introduced to Japan between the 5th and 7th centuries, and remains de rigueur in a country that prides itself on etiquette.

At the Prince’s Trust Awards in March, Prince Charles offered a namaste rather than a handshake

At the Prince’s Trust Awards in March, Prince Charles offered a namaste rather than a handshake 

We could adopt this for formal settings, with the degree of bow matching the level of respect you feel for one another.

For a spiritual symbol, look to the Middle East. Place your right hand on your heart, sacred in Islam as the seat of the soul, and say, ‘As-salaam alaikum’ (peace be upon you).

The Hawaiian shaka sign, with the three middle fingers curled and thumb and little finger extended, could even be adopted beyond the surfing community, who know it as meaning ‘hang loose’.

Or there’s the Zambian ‘cup and clap’ — cup your hands together and clap a couple of times while saying, ‘Muli bwanji’ (how are you?).

But back to the namaste. In Sanskrit, it means ‘the highest in me salutes the highest in you’. It’s appropriate at a time when we’re meant to be appreciating each other more, while keeping our distance. Prince Charles may have set a trend.  

Chinese airlines have flown more passenger flights in a month than US carriers for first time


Chinese airlines have flown more passenger flights in a month than US carriers for the first time ever

  • Data shows Chinese airlines operated 200,000 flights from May 1 until May 27
  • This compares with fewer than 170,000 flights by carriers based in the U.S 
  • U.S operators remain 74% down as a result of the coronavirus crisis downturn 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

May 2020 is set to be the first-ever month in which Chinese airlines operate more passenger jet flights than their US counterparts.

Tracking data from Cirium shows from Friday, May 1, up to and including Wednesday, May 27, Chinese carriers completed nearly 200,000 flights with passenger-configured widebody, narrowbody and regional jet aircraft.

This compares with fewer than 170,000 flights in May by carriers based in the U.S.

New data has shown that May 2020 is set to be the first-ever month in which Chinese airlines operate more passenger jet flights than their US counterparts

Cirium said that China achieved this milestone ‘because its airlines have recovered to an activity level approximately 35 per cent below last year’.

It added that US operators remain 74 per cent down as a result of the collapse in passenger demand due to the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, the global stored passenger aircraft fleet has declined slightly to just over 15,000, says Cirium, taking the overall proportion of inactive aircraft down a further percentage point to 57 per cent.

Yesterday, American Airlines revealed it would be cutting 30 per cent of its management and support staff in its latest belt-tightening move during the prolonged Covid-19 downturn. 

A graph showing how Chinese airlines are currently operating more flights than U.S airlines

A graph showing how Chinese airlines are currently operating more flights than U.S airlines 

The big US carrier outlined a series of measures to reduce headcount throughout its operations in an email to staff that was released in a securities filing on Thursday.

American currently has a team of 17,000 people in management and support, meaning the actions planned will cut about 5,100 jobs.

The move follows statements from United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other carriers that have signalled deep job cuts due to sinking air travel demand from coronavirus shutdowns.

American Airlines has revealed it will be cutting 30 per cent of its management and support staff in its latest belt-tightening move during the prolonged Covid-19 downturn

American Airlines has revealed it will be cutting 30 per cent of its management and support staff in its latest belt-tightening move during the prolonged Covid-19 downturn

Meanwhile, aircraft maker Boeing, one of America’s largest manufacturers as well as its number one exporter, is cutting more than 12,000 U.S jobs.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices,’ said David Calhoun, CEO and president of Boeing, on Wednesday in a memo to employees.

The Chicago-based company said it would lay off 6,770 U.S employees this week, and another 5,520 workers are taking buyout offers to leave voluntarily in the coming weeks.