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Spain and Greece to strike holiday deal with UK – even without vaccine passports

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But amid uncertainty over the bloc’s flailing vaccine strategy, Spain and Greece have made it clear they want to do a deal direct with the UK. Spain’s tourism minister Fernando Valdes has said the country is considering opening a “green corridor” for vaccinated Britons. His Greek counterpart, Haris Theoharis, also confirmed that UK holidaymakers will be welcomed with or without a Europe-wide vaccine passport. Mr Valdes said: “Right now we have discussions with our colleagues in the UK.

“For us, the British market is our main market. Since we are a member of the European Union, the solutions have first to be part of the discussions in the EU.

“Obviously, if that cannot be reached, we will be thinking of green corridors that can help us restart tourism flows.”

He said reopening Spain to British tourists was dependent on how the pandemic and vaccination programmes evolve but added: “Maybe this summer we will be regaining British tourists here in Spain.”

Resorts in the Balearic Islands are leading the calls for a deal to be brokered with the UK and have offered to operate a pilot scheme for vaccine passports for use in Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca.

Greece also made it clear it was ready to do a deal directly with Britain’s Government.

Mr Theoharis said: “I have to be categorical that bilateral or multilateral deal aside – it doesn’t matter – the UK will be open to Greece.

“Technical issues are to be solved but I think the political will is there.

“Ideally, we would like a European deal for everyone to travel but otherwise we have to find other ways for people to come to Greece.”

The UK’s largest tour operator Tui has revealed it plans to resume holidays to Spain from May 21, while airline and tour operator Jet2 has slashed holiday prices by £110 per person.

Tui boss Andrew Flintham also revealed this week that the company was in “close co-ordination” with Greece, Spain and Cyprus about enabling beach holidays.

Under Boris Johnson’s roadmap, the earliest possible date that Britons can go on overseas holidays is May 17. But Home Secretary Priti Patel recently warned that it was “too early” to book.

Aviation minister Robert Courts said he would “absolutely reject any suggestion” that foreign holidays were being pushed “into the long grass”. He told a committee of MPs: “This is very much about bringing the right people together in the right way, following the Prime Minister’s road map, and making a difference to ease restrictions on the sector as quickly as we can.

“Yes, safely, but in a sustainable and robust way.”

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said this week summer holidays overseas will depend on European countries catching up with the UK on their vaccination programmes.

The EU Commission is set to propose legislation to create an EU-wide Digital Green Pass on March 17.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “It should facilitate Europeans’ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”

Meanwhile, families are snapping up domestic breaks following the publication of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, under which leisure travel is set to resume in England on April 12.

Fewer than one in 10 UK self-catering holiday options are left available across some operators this summer as the nation prepares for a post-lockdown staycation boom.

Just eight percent of school summer holiday dates are still available for properties advertised by Oliver’s Travels.

Unique Homestays also said that 92 percent of its available dates have been booked up for the summer months.

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Travellers will be offered a week-long tour of Britain’s coastal waters this summer.

P&O Cruises, the UK’s largest cruise line, said it wants to offer guests a proper holiday at sea while relaxing, dining and being entertained.

Its president Paul Ludlow said: “We hope that the UK ultimate escape staycation option will have wide appeal and we will do our utmost to make it a very special time.

“There really will be something for everyone and the opportunity to spend precious and much-longed for time with family and friends.”

The firm said a number of health and safety measures would be in place to “enable everyone to enjoy a wonderful holiday this summer”.

It had extended the suspension of sailings until next month due to the pandemic.

The cruises, leaving from Southampton, will go on sale later this month with details of prices and dates to be announced.



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