In Depth

Torrid times for tourism: France ‘likely to be ditched’ from travel safe list

Brits gamble on Greece and Portugal decision may come too late for summer holidays

The UK’s tourism industry is already one of the economy’s hardest hit sectors due to the coronavirus pandemic, but latest reports indicate further bleak news. 

Following Spain’s removal from the quarantine-free list, many British tourists have been looking at France and Greece as alternative options for summer holidays. 

However, the two European nations have seen a recent rise in Covid-19 cases and there are fears they could also be removed from the travel corridors. 

France to be ‘ditched’

On Friday France recorded its highest increase in new cases (2,288) since May, says The Guardian. And The Daily Telegraph, quoting senior sources within the government, reports that France is days away from being “ditched”. 

The Foreign Office (FCO) is set to update its “safe” list this week and it’s understood that France along with Switzerland, Poland and the Netherlands, could be subject to fresh restrictions. 

Paul Charles, spokesperson for campaign group Quash Quarantine and founder of travel consultancy The PC Agency, wrote in Telegraph Travel: “I know from senior government sources that anything above 20 per 100,000 for a period of seven days or more is likely to lead to that country being added to the quarantine list. 

“On that basis, France has just two days to get its numbers below 20 – which is highly unlikely despite face masks now being mandatory in many outdoor public spaces, not just indoors in shops.”

Greek gamble 

The Telegraph also reports that British holidaymakers are “gambling” on Greece following Spain’s removal from the quarantine-free list. 

Skyscanner says Greek destinations such as Crete, Corfu and Santorini have overtaken popular Spanish hotspots such as Barcelona, Ibiza and Malaga as travellers began to look elsewhere.  

However, Greece has also seen a rise in cases and recorded its highest number since 22 April with 121 new cases last Tuesday.  

Travelsupermarket.com’s Emma Coulthurst said: “Those prospective holidaymakers, who are looking to holiday overseas, are turning their attention to Greece, followed by Turkey, Italy, Malta and Croatia.

“My advice would be that if you’re looking for a holiday, packages give you that gold plated protection. If the FCO advice was to change to non-essential travel, then you are entitled to your money back for the package within 14 days.”

Portugal decision ‘too late’

It could be announced this week that Portugal is removed from the travel quarantine list, but the Telegraph says that it will not be enforced until the end of August.

The Daily Mail believes that the decision will come “too late” for the beleaguered tourism industry as it will miss the summer holidays. 

Paul Charles, of The PC Agency, said: “Portugal could be removed from the list but it is not looking like it will be until the end of August. 

“My understanding is that it would need a sustained reduction in the number of cases for them to do so. This kills the summer season for Portugal, and there is no doubt that 2020 has been the worst season it has had.”

British Airways

Getty Images

‘Bleak day’ for BA

The aviation sector has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic measures and travel quarantine rules. And on Friday the UK’s flagship carrier British Airways confirmed that it was making more than 10,000 staff redundant. 

Sky News understands that 6,000 redundancies are voluntary and according to trade union Unite a further 4,000 will be compulsory.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “Our half-year results, published last week, clearly show the enormous financial impact of Covid-19 on our business.

“We are having to make difficult decisions and take every possible action now to protect as many jobs as possible. And, while we never could have anticipated being in a position of making redundancies, more than 6,000 of our colleagues have now indicated that they wish to take voluntary redundancy from BA.”

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett blamed “naked company greed” for more than 4,000 of its members “being forced” out by the airline.

Beckett said: “This is a very bleak day for the incredible BA workforce and will go down in the history of the airline as the day that it put the interests of the boardroom ahead of its passengers and workforce.”

According to a report in the Daily Mail last week 21,600 jobs in the tourism and aviation sectors are set to be axed due to the impact of Covid-19.

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