It’s here: Test-free travel is back
Photo: Pixabay, Angelo Giordano

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 11th February 2022

From today we can go on holiday and return home without a single test in sight. We’ve still got Omicron but the world is opening up – even Australia. 
Here’s a quick catch up on 2022 so far: Boris Johnson scraps pre-departure tests; easyJet demand goes up 400%; France lifts its travel ban on Britons; Coachella announces its return; Thailand launches ‘test-and-go’ travel; Portugal ends PCR testing; Sweden invites fully vaccinated travellers back; the snacks are back on BA; and Denmark becomes the first EU country to lift all pandemic restrictions. 
The good news keeps coming…

Open for business

Happening today: It’s freedom Friday! Did you set your alarms? From 4am, 11th February, the UK government removed all travel testing requirements. Visitors can fly into the country without needing to show a PCR result or take a lateral flow test. But if you are unvaccinated you do still need to do a lateral flow test before travelling and take a PCR test on arrival. Passenger locator forms sill apply. Masks need to be worn on flights. Also every country has its own Covid related regulations, so check before you travel.

New chapter: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says this is “a landmark moment for international travel. After nearly two years of necessary but complex travel arrangements these changes will make it cheaper and easier for families to travel, taking advantage of the UK’s high levels of vaccination, and keeping us all safe.”

Operation escape: Britons have dashed to the travel agent to book a holiday for next week – which is the school half-term break. With the faff and costs gone, Stansted is expecting 200,000 passengers from tomorrow, Saturday, and Eurostar anticipates 125,000 passengers on its trains throughout the week.

Just in: On Friday, Gatwick Airport announced it would be opening the South Terminal once again. After being closed for two years due to a collapse in demand for air travel during the pandemic, the airport has been operating solely from the North. The South will reopen on 27th March to cope with the holiday boom this summer.

Splashing out: Britons really are missing the sun with the top short haul bookings revealed by Abta as Turkey, Egypt, and Portugal while the most popular long haul destinations are Florida, Dubai, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Sun, sea and no testing: Two more countries dropped their testing requirements for fully jabbed holidaymakers this week which means no swabs up the nose when travelling out or returning. Hopefully this will mean less time in the airport and more time relaxing. The Independent told us we can forget about tests for Greece, which ended on 7th February, and Portugal which scrapped theirs with immediate effect.

Oo la la: France sprang to its feet to announce it too would drop PCR and lateral flow tests. The Sun Travel says will we know more about when this will happen in the coming days. ITV News gave us a run down on where Covid regulations remain in some popular travel hotspots including Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the US.

New travel klaxon: At long last Australia is reopening its borders after two years. Emerging from Covid and some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions, vaccinated tourists are welcomed back from Monday 21st February. AFP broke the news on Monday.

Come on down under: The message from the tourist board said: “G’day, world. We are thrilled to begin welcoming fully vaccinated visa holders back to our shores from 21st February. Arrival requirements vary between States and Territories and are best researched by travellers beforehand. So, come and say g’day… we’re ready for you!”

Bookings boom: Online travel agent Opodo reported a 166% increase in searches for flights to Australia from the UK with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide the most popular destinations.

Need to know: Some states will still require a negative PCR test to enter and others a lateral flow test. Plus Western Australia, mandates that travellers quarantine for 14 days. The Telegraph gave us the fine print.

Oz v Djokovic: The Australian government has emphasised it will allow in only the fully jabbed, the Guardian tells us. Remember when tennis star Novak Djokovic was deported in January for not being vaccinated? And this was a great headline from Metro. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “Events earlier in the year should have sent a very clear message, I think, to everyone around the world that that is the requirement to enter into Australia.”

Action packed: Known as the sunniest region Down Under, Western Australia is blessed with natural treasures. There’s the Outback, 7,800 miles of Coral Coastline and beaches, the world’s largest fringing reef, and one of the planet’s oldest wildernesses in the Kimberley region. It has an award-winning wine region, Margaret River, natural pink lakes plus kangaroos on the beaches and the friendly quokka. If all that wasn’t enough, Australia’s First Nations people are the oldest surviving culture in the world with a history that goes back 50,000 years. More here.

What about NZ: New Zealand is expected to reopen much later in the year for Britons, possibly in July. The Times explains why.

Back to Britain: The MailOnline showed us 30 UK sights everyone should see in their lifetime. High on the list was Stonehenge and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Cornwall hoo-ha: The Telegraph brought us news that holidaymakers who want to paddleboard, kayak and canoe, in Cornwall will be charged an annual £20 fee to use Fowey harbour. Some called this a tax on tourists, but the harbour master Paul Thomas says “harbour dues have been in place for generations. We’re just getting more modern and efficient at collecting it.”

Royal tour: As the Queen celebrated 70 years on the throne on Sunday, PA Media tweeted a map of the all the countries she has been to. There’s still quite a few to go!

Good call: This year at Wimbledon the men’s and women’s singles finals will cost the same. The Times brought us the scoop that the All England Club officials wants to ensure that the women’s event is not considered less important. The top price for both matches in July is £240.

Holidays begin here

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