Japan unveils $19.51 billion plan to subsidise holidays for tourists

It’s an announcement that sounds almost too good to be true.

But under a bold tourism plan to lure visitors back to Japan, the government has launched a new campaign that will help offset travel costs for visiting tourists.

According to The Japan Times, Hiroshi Tabata, the head of the Japan Tourism Agency, said the $19.51 billion plan hopes to attract foreigners by offering to subsidise half of their travel expenses.

While little detail of the programme has been announced, the government says it could be in place as early as July (despite travel bans to Japan still in place).

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Holidays 2020: Simon Calder says June holidays are ‘effectively written off’ for Britons

There may well be a light at the end of the tunnel for holidays this year after a series of announcements from various countries saying that they will be allowing tourists at some point. The latest country to announce it will be opening their doors to tourists is Spain. The holiday hotspot for Britons insisted last week that Spain will reopen to tourists in July.

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And today, Spain further sparked hope for British holidays after the country’s Foreign Minister said they will be lifting their quarantine rules for tourists from July 1.

Currently, the country is still in a ‘State of Emergency’ due to its high coronavirus case rate.

Today, Travel expert and journalist Simon Calder joined Eamon Holmes and Ruth Langsford on ITV’s This Morning to discuss summer travel options for Britons.

During the show, Mr Calder discussed the exceptions to the UK’s quarantine rules, which will be put in place from June 8.

Mr Calder confirmed that anyone arriving from June 8 onwards into the UK will need to quarantine for 14 days.

Ruth asked Mr Calder whether there were exceptions to that rule.

Mr Calder said: “There’s many exceptions, so obviously transport workers, seasonal, agricultural workers, people working in the medical professions who need to help us with the coronavirus outbreak.

“And indeed anyone coming in from the Common Travel Area as you know that’s the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

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“And that’s created the so-called ‘Dublin dodge’ where all you need to do actually if you don\t fancy quarantine is fly to Dublin airport, put a foot on Irish soil and then fly to whichever UK airport you want.

“I am not condoning this.

“It would increase greatly the risk to anybody else you encounter along the way.

“But I’m afraid that loophole is right in the middle of the quarantine rules.

“However, for the vast majority of people who booked to travel in June, this effectively means their trip is off because the vast majority of people will not be able to sit at home in really quite Draconian conditions – in a room on your own, not mixing with any family or friends, not going out at all.

“People won’t want to do that and so effectively, June has been written off.

“We got confirmation of that from the second-biggest tour operator Jet2 on Friday and TUI, the biggest holiday company is currently considering its position.”

Travellers arriving in the UK will have to fill in a form detailing the address where they’re going to isolate.

Officials can then call or visit the address at any given time during that 14 days.

Anyone caught not at home will receive a fixed penalty notice of £1,000.

Mr Calder said: “Anyone coming in can say they don’t have suitable accommodation, and the government will have to find somewhere for them to quarantine for two weeks.

“Whether that’s a nice hotel in London or a cottage by the coast, they haven’t announced the exact locations.”

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Planning a great escape this year? Follow our staycation guide

After more than two months in lockdown the public has been given a few glimmers of hope for a return to normality. But although some schools look set to reopen from next week, and there is more freedom to roam outdoors, health secretary Matt Hancock has said the possibility of a relaxed break abroad is unlikely this summer.

Which means many families will be looking at the possibility of a “staycation” and with UK holiday parks and tourist attractions gearing up to open their doors with strict guidelines on social distancing, and space for far fewer people, it will surely be a summer like no other.

When can we go on holiday?

Under the current rules, day trips to outdoor spaces are permitted but taking any kind of overnight trip, including to visit a second home, is not. Hotels and bed and breakfasts remain closed. Some holiday parks are telling customers that they expect to stay closed well into June.

There is expectation that the tourist industry could start to reopen from the beginning of July, mooted by culture secretary Oliver Dowden last week. The government has been keen to push that this will only be possible with social distancing to ward off a possible second spike.

VisitBritain has called for an extra bank holiday this year, potentially around the school half-term holiday in October, in order to make up for lost earnings from the two May bank holidays spent in lockdown.

Where can we go when things do open up?

Many people will be eager to get into the countryside, which may result in a rush, albeit short-lived, towards rural locations, according to Marloes de Vries of analysts Mintel.

“There will be a temporary increase in demand for rural and remote destinations,” she says. “Consumers locked down in small homes in cities will be keen to enjoy nature and open spaces.”

Outdoor spaces are also likely to prove popular as they allow for social distancing but should large numbers focus on the same destinations, the element of isolation could be lost.

Claudia Unger, an analyst at research firm Phocuswright, says the common hotspots are Cornwall, the Cotswolds and the Lake District but she believes people will search beyond those. She says: “Wales and the Yorkshire Dales come to mind, and, of course, the Highlands. These are known for their tranquility, scenic beauty and isolation – which could look very different when hordes of tourists come in.”

How much will it cost?

Although many people may find that they have more in their pockets now as they aren’t spending on travel and entertainment, there is a huge uncertainty about the future of the economy and the looming recession. As a result, those who are hoping to go on holiday this summer aren’t expected to splash out on short breaks and weekends away, instead, opting to spend on one family getaway.

“Travellers tend to prioritise their main holiday in difficult economic times and cut back on top-up/short breaks of one to three nights,” says de Vries.

This is especially likely as many workers will have stockpiled or carried over annual leave, giving plenty of time for longer breaks, she says. “As a result, family/beach holidays should prove more resilient than holiday types which tend to be shorter, such as city breaks.”

The tourism industry has been crippled and will be looking to recoup some losses when it reopens, meaning costs may rise amid heavy demand, says Unger. Typically, school holidays mark the beginning of heightened prices but consumers should be ready for earlier spikes.

This could lead to families looking for alternative options such as Airbnb. But Unger says prices here will also rise in the most popular locations. “Airbnb is a mixed bag: houses and accommodation available for sole use will likely see a spike in enquiries and prices – in countryside locations,” she says. “However, renting out a spare bedroom or apartments in city-centre locations will likely remain in low demand.”

Do I need different travel insurance if holidaying in the UK?

Some travel insurance policies don’t include UK cover but a good one should set out what countries are and are not covered. Consumers should look at their documents before they depart and see whether the cover is included. If it is not, insurance for the UK is widely available.

You may question why you should take out insurance for a “staycation” as medical cover is unlikely to be necessary because of the NHS. However, it can cover for train and flight cancellations and delays, holiday cancellation, lost or damaged luggage and valuables which are lost.

The travel destination will typically need to be a certain distance away from the home, such as 25 miles, before it comes into effect and many policies insist on a minimum amount of time for the duration of the trip, such as three nights.

How will we get anywhere with restrictions on the transport network?

Research suggests that there is low confidence in travelling on public transport. That, combined with the low cost of petrol, will mean people will be more likely to travel by car, leading to possible jams. For those who do take public transport, prices may also increase.

“Costs are likely to rise as fewer people will be allowed ‘on board’ (trains, ferries and airplanes). There are also additional deep-cleaning and disinfection costs which means more time is needed for the turnaround of a rental car or aircraft. A plane on the ground loses money – the same would be true for a rental car that’s waiting to be serviced before it can be leased out again,” says Unger.

Sounds like things are going to be very different this year …

Haven, one of the largest holiday parks companies, says it will reopen at the beginning of July but with limits on the number of people who can come, as well as measures to ensure social distancing. Centre Parcs is also working to reopen with social distancing.

The coming holiday seasoncould see one-way systems for people to navigate tourist attractions such as heritage sites, as well as pre-booking, additional hand-sanitiser stations and staff dressed in PPE.

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Package holiday deals will be more expensive for three years post-coronavirus

While international travel is off the agenda for Aussies at present, experts have warned future European summer holidays may cost more for the next three years due to the coronavirus crisis.

While it’s hoped prices will eventually return to pre-pandemic levels, flights and hotels may end up being much pricier until 2023.

Kuoni’s UK Managing Director Derek Jones told Travel Weekly that while hotels will offer low prices to encourage bookings initially, prices will increase there after.

“I think you might see some really good offers in the marketplace right through to the middle of next year, at least,” he explained.

“I think we will see capacity constrained over the next maybe two, three years, which inevitably is going to mean the prices will start to move as they yield off lower capacities.”

Out of the UK, airlines and tour operators are already offering cheap deals for later this year – with popular budget airline easyJet opening flights for 2021.

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Some experts think the price of holidays could skyrocket. Picture: iStock global roaming, Dilvin Yasa, EscapeSource:Supplied

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Closer to home, while international trips are set to be a while off yet, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce hinted at domestic flight bargains when the country opens borders once again.

Mr Joyce pointed to flights from as little as $19 post-pandemic between Melbourne and Sydney, as a way of getting domestic tourism moving again.

Other travel experts, however, have expressed concerns over the cost of future holidays, with expectations of doubling prices for some locations.

Martyn James, from UK consumer website Resolver, said “it’s likely the cost of overseas package deals will double,” adding that guests will also get less for their money with limits on buffets and swimming pool access.

Aviation expert Matt Purton added the price of international flights from ports around the world could rise by 30 per cent after lockdown, while Paul Charles, from The PC Agency travel consultancy, said holiday prices will rise as “airlines will have to make more money from their economy passengers” as fewer will travel for business purposes.

There is some good news, however. Mr Jones predicts prices will go back to pre-pandemic levels with cheap holidays available one day.

Some carriers predict a drop in airfares.Source:Supplied

“I don’t see a fundamental shift in the position of holidays in terms of value, I think it will level back to something similar to the position we’re in today,” he said.

He also said that while “getting there will be more expensive,” meaning flights and cruises might cost more, properties in tourist destinations are likely to offer cheap prices with “land prices once you’re there being slightly lower”.

Holidays abroad are unlikely to start again soon for Australians, despite the push for a trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.

Domestic travel will be the first step in Australia’s tourism recovery plan, with both NSW and Victoria allowing for intrastate recreational travel from June 1.

In the UK, the government still advises against all non-essential travel, which isn’t likely to change in the upcoming months.

Countries such as Portugal and Greece are looking into ways to allow British citizens to return, such as “air bridges” which would let international travellers avoid the 14-day quarantine.

With international travel unlikely for some time, all eyes are on domestic trips.Source:Supplied

Yet with borders still closed and a mandatory two-week quarantine when returning to the UK from abroad, staycations may be the only holidays heading into their summer period.

The UK government also warned that plans, revealed by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, to allow people to fly between countries where the spread of the virus is low, are not going to be put into practice anytime soon.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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Covid-19 coronavirus: 2020 is the year of exploring our own backyard

COMMENT:

I’m going to sound really disgustingly positive for a bit but bear with me.

The Covid-19 pandemic is, by far, one of the worst s*** sandwiches we’ve been handed in our lifetime. It’s a tragedy on multiple levels and it’s going to take us a long time to recover from it.

However, as far as places to be when the whole world is closed off and all borders are shut, we’ve really lucked out in New Zealand.

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France travel restrictions: Can I travel to France in July? Are there flights?

France travel restrictions have kept people from entering one of Europe’s most visited countries for months now, as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Cases in the nation have gradually declined, and officials slightly relaxed restrictions on May 11, with more to come.

Can you travel to France in July?

Several European countries are now eyeing a relaxation in travel restrictions, as the tourism sector flounders.

While the virus is now less present in the general public as it was before, the threat remains, and the latest easements will come with conditions.

Borders in France will reopen next month but in a limited capacity.

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Currently, plans from French officials outline the only incoming changes to international travel will come from local borders.

From June 15, the French government will allow travel between the Swiss and German borders.

Any further changes have not emerged as of yet, with no word on when travel from the UK will resume once more.

France has revealed how it will treat any incoming British travellers when it does eventually resume travel, however.

The French Government announced yesterday it will quarantine any France-bound UK travellers for two weeks after they land.

The new rules will come into effect from June 8 this year.

Their intentions also mean they will quarantine anyone else entering the country from another nation on lockdown.

Their move came following an earlier announcement from Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said anyone entering the UK would receive similar treatment.

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Under new Government guidelines, and visitors coming into the country, also from June 8, would have to quarantine for 14 days.

Travellers will need to inform the Government where they will quarantine and face spot checks during the duration.

Anyone found breaching the new rules may be forced to pay a £1,000 fine to “reduce the risk of cases crossing our border”.

The rules do not apply to those arriving in the UK from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

EasyJet recently announced it would resume flights into France starting from mid next month.

Last week, the airline said it would operate trips from a small number of routes on June 15, mainly covering domestic journeys.

Flights will run from four UK airports, including London Gatwick, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Belfast International.

One confirmed route will run between Gatwick and Nice, while EasyJet will also operate reopen routes from Paris Charles de Gaulle, Nice, Lyon, Geneva in Switzerland, Lisbon, Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain.

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Michigan Officials Intercept COVID-19 Patient From Flying

A person who tested positive for the coronavirus while visiting the state of Michigan and wanted to return home was tracked and intercepted at an airport before they could catch a flight.

The Ingham County Health Department notified the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing on Friday that a person who tested positive for COVID-19 was possibly boarding a flight and should be prevented from doing so.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail issued a cease-and-desist order after the person, who was visiting family in Ingham County.

“We can’t have people hopping on planes that are known positive with COVID-19,” Vail told the Lansing State Journal newspaper. “We just can’t.”

After testing positive, the person told health department staff they wanted to return home.

“It was like, ‘No you can’t,’” Vail said.

The newspaper said it became clear to staff who stayed in contact with the person that the patient was not complying with the order and possibly planned to go to the airport. Vail contacted the airport; the airport called the airline; the airline located the passenger before they got to the security checkpoint and the passenger was denied boarding, according to airport marketing manager Spencer Flynn.

“We let them know what the health department told us,” Flynn said.

The person left voluntarily and later agreed to remain in the county.

“This is the first case we’ve had to step in,” said Flynn, who added that the airport did not have any further departing flights that day, and that a cleaning contractor came and sanitized the area.

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The art of slow travel: Discovering the Wairarapa

Like many Kiwis, I have had international travel plans cancelled. Long gone are my dreams of dark-sky star-gazing, snorkelling in some of the world’s clearest waters, and relaxing in a tropical climate.

So what did I do instead? I spent the weekend exploring a bit closer to home.

Heading from Wellington over the hill to the Wairarapa for the weekend, Castlepoint had been on my list of places to visit for a long time. This small east coast beach town, just an hour from Masterton, is a wild and strangely therapeutic place to visit.

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American Airlines Reaches Traffic Milestone

In the face of the industry-devastating coronavirus pandemic that has decimated the demand for air travel, American Airlines saw a glimmer of hope this week.

Wednesday, May 20, marked a milestone. According to Fox Business, American carried its highest amount of passengers since March 22, a span of almost two months

Capacity was down 95 percent across the board during March and April; for American, demand is still down 84 percent compared to the same time period last year but nonetheless has grown slightly during the month of May.

“In April, we had a 15 percent load factor and so far, month-to-date in May, we’re at 35 percent,” American Airlines executives said during a digital investor conference. Meanwhile, in April of 2019, the carrier was flying planes that were 85 percent full.

In general, people are staying away from travel. Even car trips are expected to be down, as AAA failed to deliver a Memorial Day travel forecast for the first time in decades.

For American, it’s a small sliver of good news in the face of rough news—the world’s largest airline is also the most vulnerable for bankruptcy, according to a new study of risk assessment by the firm RapidRatings.

“American is the most at risk and that’s it in every way you look at it. American stands out as the weakest of this cohort,” RapidRatings CEO James Gellert told Yahoo Finance.

His firm, which has done similar work for McDonald’s (MCD) and Unilever (UL), looks at whether a company can withstand shocks like the COVID-19 crisis, which has devastated the global economy.

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TSA Adding Extra Health, Safety Guidelines Ahead of Summer Travel

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced changes to the security screening process to prevent cross-contamination at the checkpoints between employees and travelers.

As a reduced number of airline passengers prepare to fly during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the TSA has already started implementing the changes and plans to have airport checkpoints nationwide up-to-date by mid-June.

While the number of travelers is drastically lower than it was in year’s previous, TSA officials has experienced a steady growth of travelers coming through airport checkpoints in recent weeks.

“In the interest of TSA frontline workers and traveler health, TSA is committed to making prudent changes to our screening processes to limit physical contact and increase physical distance as much as possible,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “We continue to evaluate our security measures with an eye towards making smart, timely decisions benefiting health and safety, as well as the traveler experience.”

Travelers should expect several new procedure changes, including being asked to scan their own boarding passes, separate food for X-ray screening, pack carefully to avoid slowing down screening process, practice social distancing and wear facial protection.

Airline passengers who have not flown since the viral pandemic began are also likely to notice some other changes, such as reduced security lane usage, some TSA agents wearing eye protection, plastic shielding at document checking podiums and routine disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces.

A study from earlier this month found that over half of American travelers want to make their first trip (once it’s appropriate to travel again) a domestic visit to reunite with friends and family, following so much self-isolation.

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