Travel latest news: Cyprus and Seychelles to open up for vaccinated Britons

Cyprus will reopen to tourists who have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 from May 1, while the Seychelles has said it welcome all visitors from March 25, irrespective of their vaccination status.  British holidaymakers are the largest visitor market for Cyprus and it is the first European country to confirm it will waive other restrictions for Britons who have received both doses of an approved vaccine – however, May 17 is the earliest UK travellers will be permitted to take foreign holidays under the Government's roadmap out of lockdown. "We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated ... so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine," the country's deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency. Sun-starved Britons will also find optimism in the Seychelles announcement that as of March 25 quarantine requirements will be waived for all visitors (except those from South Africa due to the Covid variant first detected there) with a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, the only remaining condition of entry.  Sylvestre Radegonde, the Seychelles' minister for foreign affairs and tourism, said on Thursday: “The measures being announced reflect broadly the recommendation of our tourism partners and have been done in full consultation with and the endorsement of our health authorities.” Scroll down for the latest travel updates.​ Auto update On Off 10:04AM The best private island hotels in the Seychelles  The Indian Ocean nation is set to reopen to visitors from March 25 and Britons may be mulling it over as a potential destination for when we're allowed to travel again. Paula Hardy suggests it is a place where social distancing is a pleasure rather than a pain.   Among her recommended islands is:  Bird Island Bird Island Credit: Getty A haven for thousands of fair terns and frigate birds, Bird is nature’s own island. There are few frills here – no spa, no air-conditioning, no golf buggies – just a rustic safari-style lodge and memorable guided walking tours with the resident island conservationist. Bird’s 24 detached chalets are large, with shady terraces and simple furnishings. Four-poster beds are protected by mosquito nets, and louvred window shutters on all sides allow the Indian Ocean breeze to do the cooling, assisted by ceiling fans. Food is served only at set meal times, and eaten in the communal lodge house restaurant. Read the full guide. 9:55AM Ryanair to return to Belfast airport after 11 years Ryanair has announced it will recommence flights from Belfast City Airport after a hiatus of 11 years. It will run flights to and from eight destinations in mainland Spain, the Balearic islands and Italy between June and October. The airline will offer up to seven flights a week to each of the following destinations: Malaga Mallorca Faro Alicante Barcelona Ibiza Milan Bergamo Valencia 9:35AM Andalucía introduces Covid-19 insurance for visitors Andalucía will offer Covid-19 travel insurance to international tourists staying in regulated accommodation in 2021. The region's International Travel Insurance for non-resident travellers will be in place until December 31. Cover includes: Medical, surgical and hospital expenses related to Covid, up to €4,000 Additional transportation and repatriation costs The cost of an extended stay at regulated accommodation Juan Marín, vice president of the regional government of Andalucía and minister of tourism, said: "The introduction of the International Travel Insurance for Andalucía has consolidated our preparedness to once again begin receiving tourists. Hospitality and tourism are vital to the local economy of Andalucía and the UK is an important source market for us; so it is with pleasure that we can confidently say we are in a position to welcome back our British visitors." Find out what to Med destinations could look like this summer. 9:20AM CAA: 90pc of flights cancelled in pandemic have been refunded The majority of passengers whose flights were cancelled during the pandemic have now been refunded, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). More than 95 per cent of refunds have now been paid to 20 million passengers whose flights were cancelled during the Covid crisis, Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, confirmed. The refunds totalled more than £3 billion. Speaking to MPs on the transport select committee on Wednesday, Mr Moriarty said many of the major airlines were now at 100 per cent or 99 per cent refund levels. He said that some refunds were "less straightforward: due to problems such as bookings made via an online travel agency. He added: This is an enormously important issue for consumers and I appreciate that. In the early days of the pandemic airlines were overwhelmed with the scale of the issue; that’s one of the reasons

Travel latest news: Cyprus and Seychelles to open up for vaccinated Britons

Cyprus will reopen to tourists who have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 from May 1, while the Seychelles has said it welcome all visitors from March 25, irrespective of their vaccination status. 

British holidaymakers are the largest visitor market for Cyprus and it is the first European country to confirm it will waive other restrictions for Britons who have received both doses of an approved vaccine – however, May 17 is the earliest UK travellers will be permitted to take foreign holidays under the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

"We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated ... so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine," the country's deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency.

Sun-starved Britons will also find optimism in the Seychelles announcement that as of March 25 quarantine requirements will be waived for all visitors (except those from South Africa due to the Covid variant first detected there) with a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, the only remaining condition of entry. 

Sylvestre Radegonde, the Seychelles' minister for foreign affairs and tourism, said on Thursday: “The measures being announced reflect broadly the recommendation of our tourism partners and have been done in full consultation with and the endorsement of our health authorities.”

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.​

Auto update

The best private island hotels in the Seychelles 

The Indian Ocean nation is set to reopen to visitors from March 25 and Britons may be mulling it over as a potential destination for when we're allowed to travel again.

Paula Hardy suggests it is a place where social distancing is a pleasure rather than a pain.  

Among her recommended islands is: 

Bird Island

Bird Island Credit: Getty

A haven for thousands of fair terns and frigate birds, Bird is nature’s own island. There are few frills here – no spa, no air-conditioning, no golf buggies – just a rustic safari-style lodge and memorable guided walking tours with the resident island conservationist. Bird’s 24 detached chalets are large, with shady terraces and simple furnishings. Four-poster beds are protected by mosquito nets, and louvred window shutters on all sides allow the Indian Ocean breeze to do the cooling, assisted by ceiling fans. Food is served only at set meal times, and eaten in the communal lodge house restaurant.

Read the full guide.

Ryanair to return to Belfast airport after 11 years

Ryanair has announced it will recommence flights from Belfast City Airport after a hiatus of 11 years.

It will run flights to and from eight destinations in mainland Spain, the Balearic islands and Italy between June and October.

The airline will offer up to seven flights a week to each of the following destinations:

  • Malaga
  • Mallorca
  • Faro
  • Alicante
  • Barcelona
  • Ibiza
  • Milan
  • Bergamo
  • Valencia

Andalucía introduces Covid-19 insurance for visitors

Andalucía will offer Covid-19 travel insurance to international tourists staying in regulated accommodation in 2021.

The region's International Travel Insurance for non-resident travellers will be in place until December 31. Cover includes:

  • Medical, surgical and hospital expenses related to Covid, up to €4,000
  • Additional transportation and repatriation costs
  • The cost of an extended stay at regulated accommodation

Juan Marín, vice president of the regional government of Andalucía and minister of tourism, said: "The introduction of the International Travel Insurance for Andalucía has consolidated our preparedness to once again begin receiving tourists. Hospitality and tourism are vital to the local economy of Andalucía and the UK is an important source market for us; so it is with pleasure that we can confidently say we are in a position to welcome back our British visitors."

Find out what to Med destinations could look like this summer.

CAA: 90pc of flights cancelled in pandemic have been refunded

The majority of passengers whose flights were cancelled during the pandemic have now been refunded, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

More than 95 per cent of refunds have now been paid to 20 million passengers whose flights were cancelled during the Covid crisis, Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the CAA, confirmed. The refunds totalled more than £3 billion.

Speaking to MPs on the transport select committee on Wednesday, Mr Moriarty said many of the major airlines were now at 100 per cent or 99 per cent refund levels. He said that some refunds were "less straightforward: due to problems such as bookings made via an online travel agency.

He added:

This is an enormously important issue for consumers and I appreciate that. In the early days of the pandemic airlines were overwhelmed with the scale of the issue; that’s one of the reasons we took action.

I’m not complacent, there are some refunds that still needs to be paid and these will often be more complicated cases.

Replace travel corridors with testing, says industry campaign

The government should scrap the travel corridor regime that oversaw holidays last summer and replace it with a broader, more rigorous testing of passengers, according to the Save Our Summer campaign.

Nine in ten respondents to a new SOS survey of nearly 400 of the travel firms supporting the campaign said they did not want to see the same arrangements in place this summer, reports travel publication TTG

The government’s travel corridor regime caused disruption for passengers and travel companies as countries were moved on and of the s were rolled on and off list, often at short notice.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency and co-founder of SOS, said:

Firms across travel and tourism are united in calling for the government to introduce widespread testing for arrivals instead, even if it means extra costs. This would enable travel to seamlessly start up safely and responsibly, in the same way schools are doing.

Seychelles: reopening is the next step for economic recovery

The Seychelles has announced that it will be welcoming visitors from across the world, irrespective of their vaccination status, as from March 25, 2021.

The contribution of travel and tourism to the country's GDP is around 65 per cent. 

The Seychelles will reopen to all visitors from March 25 Credit: Getty

These are the remaining restrictions after March 25:

  • Visitors will now only be required to present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to departure
  • There will be no quarantine requirement nor restriction on movement upon entry into Seychelles
  • Additionally, the minimum stay in establishments upon arrival will no longer be applicable

Sylvestre Radegonde, the Seychelles' minister for foreign affairs and tourism, said on Thursday: 

The vaccination campaign has been quite successful. The government has done everything in its power to make sure that the population is protected. We have now arrived at the point where opening our borders further is the next step to allow for our economic recovery. The measures being announced reflect broadly the recommendation of our tourism partners and have been done in full consultation with and the endorsement of our health authorities.

Staycation prices a third higher in holiday hotspots this year

The cost of staycations could be a third higher this year as British tourists look to have their first post-pandemic holidays.

A snapshot investigation by consumer group Which? showed that the cost of holiday lets in some of the UK’s most popular seaside locations had risen by a third on average, while some had soared even higher.

There have been warnings that, with foreign holidays off the table for many, there will be unprecedented demand for UK trips this summer, pushing prices up.

The Which? research tracked prices of 15 holiday lets listed on Airbnb and Vrbo for last summer when booked in May and June and compared them to the amount charged in February for this summer.

It found the price of one let in Brighton had soared by 140 per cent, from £53 a night to £127, with the average increase being 35 per cent.

Read the full story.

What happened yesterday?

The main headlines from Thursday: 

  • Bookings soar for Spanish holidays
  • British Airways launches rapid-result Covid tests
  • Ryanair promises year of low prices to boost holiday revival
  • 'Measures may not be enough’: Travel bosses react to yesterday’s budget announcement
  • Greece tightens travel restrictions
  • Italian ski resorts come to terms with a lost winter ski season
  • Hancock optimistic for 'great British summer'
  • Seychelles to reopen this month

Now onto today's news.