Where to go on holiday once lockdown ends
As our government announces its plan to gradually bring us out of lockdown, and other governments around the world ease their own restrictions too, we look at which of our favourite holiday destinations are likely to open up to UK holidaymakers first - plus a few places that, believe it or not, never really closed!
Every month we've been asking UK holidaymakers when they expect to get on a plane again and where they want to go. In May, more than 50% of travellers said that they expect to fly again before the end of 2020, and every month 10%-15% keep telling us they'll be on the first plane the government says is safe!
Our top destinations for a post-lockdown break
With so much of the world still going through its own coronavirus lockdowns, where can British holidaymakers actually fly to?
We've rounded up some of the UK's favourite holiday destinations and looked at what their national governments, tourism ministers, local authorities and travel industries have been saying to analyse which places you're likely to be able to go for a holiday first, and why. Please bear in mind these are our best estimates of when we'll be able to visit these locations - nothing is final until the governments of the UK and other countries formally agree.
Italy - June 2020
Let's start simple - Italy recently declared that it was planning to open its borders, without restrictions, from 3rd June. Regional goverors said they were considering health passports or mandatory 14-day quarantines for anyone coming into the country; the national government said no; and so on 3rd June, if nothing changes, Italy's borders will once again be open to visitors.
Our round-up of destinations we expect to be flying to before the end of the year
- Italy - June 2020. Italy has already declared its plan to reopen its borders without restrictions from 3rd June, so tourists will probably be flying to Rome before Brits are allowed to drive to an airport.
- Mexico - June 2020. Mexico's economy normally depends heavily on oil and visitors from the US, and neither is in great shape right now. Their tourism officials are already enticing international visitors to come back when the crisis abates.
- Iceland - June 2020. Iceland has also kept its borders open to the UK and EU throughout the crisis, currently requiring a 14-day quarantine on arrival. From June 15th visitors will be able to either undergo a coronavirus test or opt for the quarantine.
- Spain - July 2020. The Spanish government recently declared that Spain would reopen for tourism in July, with Britain mentioned specifically as one of the countries welcome to visit. As the UK's biggest holiday destination by far, that's a huge boost to our holiday options this summer.
- Cyprus - Aug/Sep 2020. Cyprus very recently said it would wait for the UK to get the virus under control before adding us to the list of visitors, so assuming we do so we should be there by the end of the summer
- Greece - Aug / Sep 2020. Greece now says it will wait for the UK to get our own corona numbers down before we can visit, so while we won't be incluced in the first wave of visitors we could be visiting by the end of the summer .
- The Maldives - Sep / Oct 2020. The Maldives - like Macau, the Seychelles or Cape Verde - tops the global tables of countries most reliant on tourism, so is expected to find creative solutions to reopen as soon as it's safe to do so.
- The UK! As soon as lockdown ends, we should at least be able to travel around our own country, and there's enough to see and do here to keep even the most adventurous spirit busy, at least for one summer.
Iceland - June 2020
Iceland's response to the coronavirus was something of an outlier in global terms. It closed its borders to visitors from outside Europe, but visitors from the EU and UK are still welcome provided they quarantine themselves for 14 days on arrival. Since you're not allowed to leave your house right now anyway, 14 days in an Reykjavik hotel might even seem like a fairly minor hardship for then being allowed to head out and explore a fantastically-beautiful, almost-empty country afterwards.
Of course, currently you would be breaking the UK's internal lockdown if you left home just to get on a plane to Iceland, and you'd be pressed to get travel insurance; and it's possible that once global travel spins back up the Icelandic authorities might take a harder line on visitors. But from June 15th Iceland plans to replace even the mandatory 14-day quarantine with a test for the virus, at which point it'll become one of the easiest and most hassle-free places on earth for us to visit.
And if you're being rigorous about your social distancing (good!) - Iceland is a whole country home to just 300,000 people, half of whom live in the capital. Once you've driven away from Reykjavik you can go a whole day without seeing another soul, which makes staying six feet away an absolute breeze.
See 18 awe-inspiring things to do in Iceland below.
Mexico - June 2020
Like Greece, Mexico depends heavily on tourists. And not just tourists - in particular, the Mexican economy normally relies on a combination of US tourists and oil. With the USA very sadly suffering the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world their holidaymakers are unlikely to be as welcome until they get their own situation under control. And the corona crisis has also badly affected the global price of oil, hitting both of Mexico's normal economic staples. That means Mexico is even more keen than usual to attract visitors from further afield.
Mexico's beach resorts are some of the best in the world - Cancun in particular is popular not just with (relatively nearby) America, Australian and Canadian visitors but has been a magnet for Brits. With good weather, the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum just a daytrip away and probably the best reef snorkelling outside Australia it's another spot which lends itself to both a relaxing week or two on a sun-lounger or a dash around the cenotes and sites.
Mexico's tourist office is well aware of the country's need for tourist dollars - even in April it was already sending out targeted ads encouraging visitors from Australia and Canada to visit soon.
We hope to be back soon too.
Holiday Extras Travel Guides YouTube Channel
At Holiday Extras we like to travel. Our video team visits and reviews all of the most popular holiday destinations for our original video travel guides. As a company, our "wanderlust" perk lets everyone on the team spend two weeks a year working overseas, on top of their holidays. And every year, we help eight million UK travellers have a better trip by sorting out their airport parking, hotels, lounges and other holiday extras - more than anyone else in the business
Spain - July 2020
When Spain's tourism minister Iago Negueruela commented at the end of April that Brits wouldn't be allowed to the Balearic island before 2021 because we had so many corona cases here, that looked like the end of holidays to Spain this year. However, on May 24th Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared that Spain would reopen to tourists - explicitly including British tourists - in July.
Watch our latest Tenerife guide below.
"We are sending everyone a message today: Spain will be waiting for you from July."
- Pedro Sanchez, Spanish PM
This is much faster than originally planned - even the Canaries, which are heavily dependent on tourists and British tourists in particular, were talking about opening up to international visitors only by October. But with infection rates at tourist hotspots such as th Canaries, Balearics and Costa del Sol much lower than in the main cities of Madrid and Barcelona, the Spanish tourism industry has a clear plan for how holidays can resume safely by July.
Greece - August / September 2020
The Greek islands are one of our favourite places on earth - the perfect combination of sunshine, blissful idling on white sand beaches, ancient culture everywhere you look, great food and friendly people. No wonder then that Greece is third on the bucketlist of places British holidaymakers are looking forward to once flying resumes.
The Greek islands have escaped the coronavirus relatively lightly. With a tight, early lockdown and the obvious benefits of being isolated by sea, Greece as a whole has seen few cases of the virus. So it's a great place to rest and recuperate safely and get over the lockdown.
"We are a country that will be open to all, not only because we are the best tourist destination, but because competing destinations are in great difficulty."
- Giorgos Gerapetritis
Why do we think Greece is likely to open up soon? Because they say so and have published a clear plan to. Greece's tourism minister Harry Theoharis recently confirmed that the islands were in conversation with British tour operators to find safe ways to get visitors back to the islands as soon as possible, and another government minister Giorgos Gerapetritis told a local Greek radio station: "We are a country that will be open to all, not only because we are the best tourist destination, but because competing destinations are in great difficulty."
22% of the whole Greek economy is based on tourism, and the number is much higher for tourist hotspots such as the most popular islands. The Greek economy has also suffered under harsh EU austerity measures since the last financial crisis of 2008, so it's understandable the government, and the tourism industry there, is keen to get through this latest crisis as quickly as it's safe to do so.
To see more about one of our favourite Greek islands, watch our Santorini guide below.
Turkey - September / October 2020
Just four hours from London and with similar resorts (and cuisine!) to the familiar Greek islands, Turkey is an increasingly-popular destination for British tourists. With the details of Brexit still under negotiation it also comes with the benefit of sitting just outside the EU, so even after the end of the year the paperwork we need to visit shouldn't change.
Turkey's minister of culture and tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, has a clear plan for how tourism will return to the country - first with visitors from Asia, then Russia and the Baltics, and finally Europe towards the end of the year.
Turkey was one of the top ten destinations British holidaymakers were looking forward to visiting after lockdown according to our poll in April, so we're optimistic about being back soon.
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