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Friday, April 16, 2021

Our guide to the sunny hotspots you should aim for this year, from Montenegro to Croatia

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Booking a holiday has become a minefield. Yet hopes are high that summer trips will be possible this year - and there are huge bargains to be had

Booking a holiday has become a minefield. Yet hopes are high that summer trips will be possible this year – and there are huge bargains to be had

You could be forgiven for being confused, if not bemused. With the Government bringing in a ‘red list’ — where British tourists returning from 33 countries have to quarantine in hotels (paying up to £1,500) — travel prospects have taken a turn for the worse.

And what of other countries? 

Spain’s position seems to change daily. Holidays by the spring would be fine, officials said. 

This shifted to ‘fine in the summer’ . . . then once again to ‘fine, but after autumn’.

In short, booking a holiday has become a minefield. Yet hopes are high that summer trips will be possible this year — and there are huge bargains to be had. 

The simple rule is to buy a package holiday from a reputable tour operator that offers a refund in the event of a cancellation. 

So here’s what is happening in Europe and beyond, with the likelihood of holidays marked out of five…  

MAKE IT MALTA

Malta is expected to have herd immunity against coronavirus by the summer and may become Europe's first entirely inoculated country. Pictured is the country's capital Valletta

Malta is expected to have herd immunity against coronavirus by the summer and may become Europe’s first entirely inoculated country. Pictured is the country’s capital Valletta 

Tiny Malta may become Europe’s first entirely inoculated country. It is expected to have herd immunity by summer.

Restaurants are open but flights to and from the UK were suspended in late December due to the new variant. However, as an island reliant on tourism, it’s reasonable to assume we’ll be welcomed this summer.

What they say: Malta’s health minister has backed the introduction of vaccine passports but the island’s Hotels & Restaurants Association is against this, saying it would exclude most of those under the age of 65.

Chances of a summer holiday? 4/5. 

GOOD FOR GREECE

Greece has proposed that the EU introduces a 'vaccination passport' scheme but has ruled out a ban on those who haven't been inoculated against Covid-19. Pictured is the country's Methoni fortress

Greece has proposed that the EU introduces a ‘vaccination passport’ scheme but has ruled out a ban on those who haven’t been inoculated against Covid-19. Pictured is the country’s Methoni fortress

No country has been more welcoming to British tourists during the pandemic than Greece, which continued to roll out the red carpet even when UK cases were rising exponentially. Hopes are high for this year, with the holiday season expected to begin in May. 

Greece has been in lockdown since November and bars, restaurants and hotels remain shut. Arrivals are currently required to show proof of a negative test and then quarantine for seven days, but this is likely to change by the summer.

What they say: Greece has proposed that the EU introduces a ‘vaccination passport’ scheme but has ruled out a ban on those who haven’t been inoculated. Instead, there will be fewer restrictions for those who have been vaccinated.

Chances of a summer holiday? 4/5. 

SPAIN’S SUNNY OUTLOOK

Eighteen million of us jet to Spain each year. Like the UK, the country is in its second Covid wave, recording its highest infection rate this week. A state of alert is in effect until May 9, with regions implementing different measures.

Most hotels closed down after last summer but many plan to reopen in spring. Bars and restaurants remain open in some regions with strict measures.

What they say: Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has been cautious, indicating that tourism will only resume once 70 per cent of its population has been vaccinated — expected to be in autumn. However, tourism minister Reyes Maroto says Spain is working ‘intensely’ to receive international tourists as early as late spring.

Chances of a summer holiday? 3/5. 

UNSURE IN ITALY

It is unclear whether holidays to Italy will go ahead this summer, but tourism minister Dario Franceschini says 'Italian tourism will return very quickly' after the pandemic. Pictured is the stunning village of Varenna on the shores of Lake Como

It is unclear whether holidays to Italy will go ahead this summer, but tourism minister Dario Franceschini says ‘Italian tourism will return very quickly’ after the pandemic. Pictured is the stunning village of Varenna on the shores of Lake Como 

THE RED LIST COUNTRIES IN FULL…  

British citizens returning from 33 ‘red list’ countries must quarantine in a hotel for ten days at their own cost (estimated at £1,500). Those who are not returning from a ‘red list’ country must self-isolate for ten days at home.

The ‘red list’ comprises: Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt seems confident that Italian holidays will be possible this year, having booked one for himself in the May half-term. So what are his chances? 

One of the worst-hit countries in Europe, Italy’s state of emergency has been extended until the end of April, and residents are banned from crossing regional borders.

A curfew is in place from 10pm to 5am but restaurants and bars can open on certain days until 6pm. British tourists must stay away until at least March 5. 

The country plans to vaccinate all adults by September.

What they say: Italy has been a little vague about holidays this summer, but tourism minister Dario Franceschini says ‘Italian tourism will return very quickly’ after the pandemic.

Chances of a summer holiday? 3/5. 

COUNT ON CROATIA

The country enjoyed a busy summer 2020 compared to neighbours, which caused a spike in infections late last year. But officials are keen to reopen to tourists soon.

Croatia may begin easing restrictions on Sunday as infection rates continue to fall. 

Bars, restaurants and hotels have been closed since the end of November but are likely to reopen in the coming months.

What they say: Croatian tourism chief Veljko Ostojic said holidays could resume by Easter but will most likely be from mid May.

Chances of a summer holiday? 4/5. 

LET’S GO TO MONTENEGRO

Due to its vaccination programme, Montenegro's foreign minister said it could be 'corona-safe' before the start of the summer season. Pictured is the town of Budva on the Adriatic coast

Due to its vaccination programme, Montenegro’s foreign minister said it could be ‘corona-safe’ before the start of the summer season. Pictured is the town of Budva on the Adriatic coast 

This may be the year to try something new, and you won’t go wrong with a trip to minuscule Montenegro, packed with majestic mountains and spectacular beaches.

Travellers have been free to enter without evidence of a negative test since mid-January. Montenegro doesn’t even have passenger locator or health declaration forms. Restaurants, cafes and hotels are open.

What they say: Montenegro’s foreign minister said its vaccination programme means it could be ‘corona-safe’ before the start of the summer season and its restriction-free stance is set to remain in 2021.

Chances of a summer holiday? 4/5. 

DOUBTS OVER FRANCE

Many of us will be hoping to avoid flying and make use of the Eurotunnel and Eurostar this year. But the outlook is uncertain as heavy restrictions on overseas visitors remain. A third French lockdown looks imminent after a record number of cases last week. France has vaccinated a million residents but could face a potential shortage as its laboratories struggle to keep up.

What they say: Restaurants will stay shut until April 6 at the earliest. Ski lifts remain closed and are unlikely to reopen before the end of the season.

Chances of a summer holiday? 2/5. 

TREAT YOURSELF TO TURKEY

The mesmerising Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey. The country's hoteliers federation has said a target has been set to welcome '25 to 30 million visitors in 2021'

The mesmerising Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey. The country’s hoteliers federation has said a target has been set to welcome ’25 to 30 million visitors in 2021′

HOW TO BOOK WITHOUT FEAR 

You can buy a summer holiday secure in the knowledge your money is safe.

If you book a package holiday — one with flights and accommodation included — from a reputable company, you will be due a refund in the event of cancellation within 14 days under the Package Travel Regulations.

Check the tour operators or travel agents are bonded with Atol (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) before booking.

This bond also protects you in the — hopefully unlikely — event of a company collapse.

Should that turn out to be the case, a government-backed fund will reimburse you.

To check which companies have proven most trustworthy during the pandemic, go to ‘Holidays in 2021 — the tour operators and travel agents Which? recommends’ at Which.co.uk

Trailfinders, Kuoni, Tui, Jet2, Explore and Inntravel head the list.

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Turkey was dropped from the UK’s travel corridor list in October after under-reporting infection numbers — so it will need to prove its stats are accurate to be on the UK’s travel corridor list. The country is rolling out its vaccination programme fairly quickly and is seeing a gradual decline in cases. 

British travellers are currently banned but once the vaccine is rolled out and lockdown is lifted, it’s not far-fetched to expect we’ll be welcomed back this summer.

What they say: The Turkey Hoteliers Federation has said a target has been set to welcome ’25 to 30 million visitors in 2021′.

Chances of a summer holiday? 3/5. 

CHANCE ON CYPRUS

The popular eastern Mediterranean island was one of the first countries to open to tourists last year, pledging to pay for hospital treatment if a tourist tested positive there.

Lockdown rules will be eased next week following a fall in infections but its 9pm curfew will stay as will its ban on restaurants and bars opening.

Cyprus is vaccinating at a slow pace, beginning with the over-90s. Most hotels closed after the summer season and are likely to reopen in spring.

What they say: Deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios has said airports will be opened to all on March 1. Those vaccinated will not need a PCR test to enter.

Chances of a summer holiday? 4/5. 

ODDS-ON FOR ISRAEL

No country is rolling out its vaccination programme faster than Israel, but the country closed its international airport last week due to a rise in infections. Israel’s health ministry aims to see 5.2 million of its eight million citizens vaccinated by March.

The country is mulling two forms of ‘green booklet’, effectively a vaccine passport, one which will be valid for the 72 hours after a negative Covid test result and another which would be permanent for those vaccinated.

What they say: The government expects to open up to international tourists ‘in the middle of 2021’. The Tourism Ministry has launched a sleek campaign, Bring Tourism Back to Israel, fronted by Israeli model Shir Elmaliach.

Chances of a summer holiday? 4/5. 

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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