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Chalkmarks: Antigua

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 28th January 2022

It was one of the longest weeks in politics so far in the UK. A very important announcement was expected and it finally came. No, not that one, I’m talking about travel. There will be no more travel tests required to enter the UK, there are also no more amber or red travel lists, no more self-isolation, and no more quarantine hotels. Yes, the government has scrapped all travel restrictions. The only reasonable response is to go on HOL-I-DAY (had to be in caps) – for the weekend, a week, maybe even two… but asap! But do we even remember how? What to pack? Or where to go?

Omi-gone! Read on

February 11: This is the date when everything changes. That’s two weeks from today. You know what that means? We predict that more than half the UK population will head to an airport in February. Well, maybe fewer than that. But expect queues. Do we mind? No, travel is about the journey not the destination. Right?!

A new chapter: Transport minister Grant Shapps gave us the update in the Commons on Monday and over in the Daily Telegraph, he wrote: “We are scrapping all tests for inbound vaccinated passengers and reducing test requirements for the unvaccinated, while at the same time removing the self-isolation requirement for the latter.”

“When these restrictions are lifted. Britain is back and open for business. If you are travelling abroad for pleasure this year, have a great holiday. After this strange, dark interlude in normal life, we all deserve it.”

Two jabs for spring: For now fully vaccinated means being double jabbed but that is expected to change before the summer. Travellers will also be required to show their vaccine passport when flying and complete a passenger locator form. Independent Travel noted that Gatwick boss Stewart Wingate was also calling for these to be ditched.

Three jabs for summer: The booster jab is expected to be a UK requirement in the coming months. The Times explained the rules.

PCR? We’ve not seen the end of these yet. Mr Shapps reminded us that many countries will and have already made having the booster a requirement of test-free travel. Plus they will require Covid test – including: Cyprus, France, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, and Switzerland. Telegraph Travel, spoke to experts to predict when the rest of Europe might begin to ease their travel restrictions.

Unvaccinated travellers: In a boost to those who have not had a vaccine, the rules have also been eased. They will no longer have to take a day eight test or self isolate although will be required to take a pre-departure test and a day 2 lateral flow test. i newspaper gave us the deets. And CNN Traveller provided very helpful intel on which countries are open to unvaccinated holidaymakers.

Glass half full: It’s time to talk about booking. Please always book a flight that is Atol protected and a package holiday that is Abta protected…just in case things go wrong. Travellers will never forget.

Where to go: Learn to ski in Glacier 3000 in the Swiss Alps, stay at 25Hours Hotel in Dubai, join a cruise to see the Northern Lights or visit Germany’s spas in Baden Baden. Here are many more ideas.

Some like it hot: Reuters broke the news that easyJet is planning to put on a record number of flights this summer between the UK and beach destinations – including to Greece, Turkey and Spain – as demand surges.

Auschwitz: On a more serious note yesterday (Thursday) was Holocaust memorial day in remembrance of the victims of the holocaust. Auschwitz, the concentration camp, just outside Krakow in Poland, has become a tourist draw. The MailOnline reported how a Dutch woman was arrested after making a Nazi salute at its entrance. She said she didn’t mean anything bad by it. Unfortunately the behaviour of some visitors leaves a lot to be desired. While nothing as dramatic happened when we visited, there was similarly insensitive behaviour.

Snow way: In other news this week, heavy snow fell across some of Europe’s popular holiday islands in the Mediterranean, including Crete and Mykonos, covering their beaches in white sleet. Winter storms also hit Turkey’s Istanbul causing flights cancellations and the closure of one of Europe’s busiest airports. And in Greece, the Acropolis in Athens was covered in snowflakes. The Sun Travel captured some of the best shots that transformed these holiday hotspots into winter wonderlands.

Back in business: The relaxation of UK testing rules saw Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries forecasting a boom in international tourism this summer with “huge pent up demand” for visitors wanting to visit the UK, she said. VisitBritain announced a £10million marketing campaign that would promote “2022 to be a blockbuster year for the nation, with Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games”.

Pillow talk: Believing that the Great British staycation is here to stay, Travelodge announced it was looking for 600 staff across its 582 UK hotels. PA Media revealed that its boss Craig Bonnars is looking to fill positions from bar staff, and receptionists to managers and sales people. 

Highland magic: It was Burns Night this week (Tuesday 25th) and if ever there was an excuse for a wee dram this is it. Our must-try recommendation is Glen Garioch.  It was at this distillery, in Scotland’s whisky-producing region Speyside, we tasted a single malt straight from the barrel. Before this, we thought all whisky tasted of petrol – but there we picked up the vanilla, spice and even sweetness. We now understand why Robert Burns became a poet!

The Only Way is more Essex: ITV News brought us the story that Essex County Council is spending a cool £300,000 to shed its TV Towie reputation and give itself a makeover. True story. The socials lit up with celebs saying they were proud to be from Essex. Visit Essex tourism manager Lisa Bone said the county needed a “new narrative”. Forget Brentwood, this ad campaign will focus on Essex’s 350-mile coastline and is due to begin in March.

Pack the suitcase!

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