Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

Jamaica’s Tourism Minister has declared the country ready to meet the coronavirus testing demands for people who are travellers to the United States now that they (the demands) – that travellers to the US must present a negative test result before departure - have come into full effect. Travellers, on arrival, will then be quarantined for 14 days.

Previously there were concerns that travellers from Canada were not able to secure testing there. Now, however, Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says that the infrastructure has been bolstered to meet the demand for WHO (World Health Organisation) COVID-19 virus testing.

"All visitors who come to Jamaica will have access to approved testing arrangements that will, he says, “in turn, enable them to meet the requirements of their respective countries for re-entry." Testing requirements were previously introduced by the Canadian and UK governments to facilitate entry or to avoid self-quarantine.

With a special task force in place, there have been great improvements to the testing framework, with Mr Bartlett declaring: "The task force has done a lot of work, including taking steps to assess and determine the capacity to respond to the need for testing of all visitors going back to their country.

“I am pleased to say that that work is completed." He also said that they are now able to assist in securing accreditation and resources for labs to do the necessary COVID testing, with facilities now in place at all of Jamaica’s major hotels.

He added: “Furthermore transportation arrangements are also in place to facilitate the movement of visitors to the closest testing centre, if one is not available on property.” Mr Bartlett said that visitors will also be able to pay for the tests before arrival at the facilities with a policy that is being developed for visitors who test positive before leaving Jamaica.

"For visitors who test positive, we have a dedicated care programme that is set in place.

“Hotels in the country will now be able to allow visitors to stay at their facility, in a specially designated area, during the allotted period, so that the relevant requirements to enable them to go back home, are met.”

Curiosity never goes out of style and this year ToursByLocals has introduced a selection of new tours to explore. In a year where connection is more important than ever, allow exceptional guides to help you uncover local stories and destination secrets, travelling like an ‘insider’ for a truly authentic experience.

The world's leading online marketplace for private tours, ToursByLocals provides highly curated, customisable, private tours for the discerning traveller, led by local guides in 188 countries. Pick from carefully tailored, hassle-free itineraries curated by expert local guides who know the destination inside and out, or work with a friendly, handpicked guide to co-create the exact experience and level of enrichment you require in 2021.

The half-day, full-day and multi-day private tours are continually awarded five-star ratings by the more than one million travellers who have discovered destinations with ToursByLocals since 2008. Enjoy immersing in a destination in the knowledge that every last detail will be taken care of, from the South of England, sunny Sierra Leone to South America’s smallest country. With no-risk refunds, with cancellation for any reason up to the day of the tour, these are some of the new tours to explore in 2021:

England

The Hound of the Baskervilles Tour: Uncover clues like detective Sherlock Holmes on this gripping tour that unravels the story behind the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, including the people, places and legends that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The tour is delivered by an award-winning guide who is a descendant of one of the people involved in the creation of the plot, making it completely unique with secrets in abundance. Explore fascinating Bronze Age villages and previously burned down churches with mysterious black magic associations; hear about the evil Squire Cabell and his pack of hounds, the coach driver whose name is now etched into fictional folklore and see the 200-year-old prison that Seldon escaped from in the story.

Plymouth Devon Private Walking Tour: Join local guide Chrissie in discovering Plymouth which has seen the departure of some of the world’s most famous voyages - namely the Mayflower, which set sail to America 400 years ago. Explore the old medieval town, take in sensational views across the water and learn about the city’s survival in wartime Britain. Reach the Mayflower Steps, which commemorate the sailing of the Pilgrims in September 1620 and imagine excited travellers setting sail for the New World.

Sierra Leone

Banana Island Leisure and Historical Tour: Explore the peninsular coast of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Set off with a guide brimming with local knowledge in the morning and marvel at views of a historic fishing village. Enjoy a boat ride and tour of Banana Island which is also referred to as ‘Banana Islands’ because of its combination of three smaller islands named Dublin, Ricketts and Mes-Meheux (not habited). Meet friendly locals and admire stunning natural scenery with Shekuba, a Sierra Leonean guide based in Freetown.

Suriname

Highlights of Paramaribo: Suriname’s beautiful, undiscovered capital offers a fusion of cultures and religions as well as fascinating heritage sites in this South American country. Let local guide Nelson lead the way on this walking tour through the historic city. Highlights include visiting vibrant markets, lush gardens and the elegant wooden cathedral in Paramaribo, located on the banks of the Suriname River and home of almost half of the small nation’s population.

 

Liberia

Monrovia Highlights and History - Half Day Tour: Explore the lesser-known glistening coast of Liberia with local guide, Nitto. Get an insider’s point of view on the best spots to visit in this vibrant coastal city. Learn about the tumultuous slave trade history, visit the National Museum of Liberia and enjoy a stop at the art stores at Mamba Point.

· Duration: Three hours, 30 minutes

· Price: £572 per tour (up to five people)

Qatar Airways continues where it left off in 2020, further expanding its strategic partnerships signing an expanded codeshare agreement with Iberia. The agreement will enhance connectivity between the two airlines’ complementary networks and will offer additional travel options to our customers travelling between the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport. Sales of the added destinations have commenced already with the additional codeshare flights already started.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are pleased to further expand our codeshare cooperation with Iberia, Spain’s largest carrier and the leading airline connecting Europe with Latin America. Despite the challenges of 2020, it has been our priority to maintain reliable global connectivity for our passengers.

“This expansion of our strategic partnership with Iberia further strengthens connectivity between the hubs of Doha and Madrid ensuring more flexible travel options for our customers. Qatar Airways and Iberia have enjoyed the mutual benefits our partnership has brought us since its establishment in 2017, providing more choice and seamless global connectivity for our millions of passengers. As global travel recovers, we look forward to further expanding our commercial cooperation with Iberia and continuing to provide the unrivalled five-star service our passengers have come to expect.”

Iberia Group Chief Excutive, Javier Sanchez-Prieto, said: “The extension of the codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways is very good news for us. At Iberia we work so that, when countries eliminate their restrictions, we can offer our clients the widest and most comprehensive network possible. The extension of this codeshare agreement with our oneworld partner, Qatar Airways, opens up new markets in Australia and Africa and improves the connectivity we offer between Spain and the rest of the world with a very high-quality service offered by our partner, Qatar Airways.”

The expanded commercial cooperation will increase the number of destinations available to Iberia passengers from 29 to 36 on Qatar Airways’ network, including new destinations in Angola, Australia, Mozambique, New Zealand and South Africa. Qatar Airways passengers will also benefit from additional connectivity, with the ability to book travel to and from an additional four destinations on Iberia’s network in Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Senegal. As oneworld alliance partners, Qatar Airways Privilege Club and Iberia Plus members are ensured recognition of their tier status with benefits including access to lounges worldwide, through check-in, extra baggage allowance, priority check-in and boarding plus accrual and redemption of miles, across the partner carriers’ networks.

Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It also provides assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. Qatar Airways’ strategic investment in a variety of fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft, including the largest fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft, has enabled it to continue flying throughout this crisis and perfectly positions it to lead the sustainable recovery of international travel.

The airline recently took delivery of four new state-of-the-art Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, increasing its total A350 fleet to 53 with an average age of just 2.7 years. Due to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand, the airline has grounded its fleet of Airbus A380 as it is not environmentally justifiable to operate such a large, four-engine aircraft in the current market. Qatar Airways has also recently launched a new programme that enables passengers to voluntarily offset the carbon emissions associated with their journey at the point of booking.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to over 130 by the end of March 2021.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.

Hamad International Airport (HIA), the airline’s home and hub, was recently ranked 'Third Best Airport in the World', among 550 airports worldwide, by the SKYTRAX World Airport Awards 2020. Rising from fourth position in 2019 to third in 2020, HIA has been steadily rising in the ‘World's Best Airports’ rankings since the start of its operations in 2014. In addition, HIA was voted the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ for the sixth year in a row and ‘Best Staff Service in the Middle East’ for the fifth year in a row.

Iberia is the main Spanish airline and the leading carrier on routes between Europe and Latin America. It offers easy and convenient connections at its hub in T4 in Madrid-Barajas airport. Since 2014 it ranked among the five most punctual airlines in the world according to FlightStats, while it was awarded its 4th Skytrax star in 2017. The airline is a member of the oneworld alliance.

In response to the latest U.S. CDC travel requirements, AMResorts and Sandals Resorts are deploying Covid-19 testing programs at their properties. Beginning January 26, AMResorts guests will be able to schedule a test through their concierge. The tests will be administered by the Hospiten international network of private hospitals, and results will be available the same day.

Hospiten's testing program will be available at most AMResorts destinations, except in Costa Rica, Curaçao, San Martin and Acapulco, Ixtapa and Huatulco, Mexico. According to AMResorts, details of the test provider in those markets are "pending".

In addition, AMResorts is providing free and extended quarantine coverage for all guests traveling to the U.S., through March 31. Under this policy, a guest who receives a positive test result while on the property and is unable to leave will be covered for the cost of quarantining the property for up to 14 days.

Meanwhile, the all-inclusive Sandals and Beaches resorts are also offering free on-site Covid-19 testing through March 31. In a statement, Sandals Resorts International said all tests "will be conducted by approved and practicing medical professionals, with the utmost convenience of our guests in mind. Appointments for the tests will be scheduled by resort staff once guests arrive at the property.

 

Responding to strong demand for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Frontier Airlines has announced new twice-weekly service between Miami and St. Thomas, on Sundays and Thursdays, beginning March 7, 2021.

USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte welcomed the announcement from the Denver-based carrier, which earlier signalled the start of service between Orlando and St. Thomas, with flights twice per week (on Mondays and Fridays), beginning February 19, 2021.

“We are once again thankful for this partnership with Frontier as the carrier works to meet existing and create new demand for travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands with affordable fares,” said Commissioner Boschulte, who along with Governor Albert Bryan Jr., Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe and other senior government officials, met with Frontier executives in Miami in March last year to explore airlift possibilities.

Daniel Shurz, Frontier Airlines’ senior vice president of commercial, cited the airline’s “exceptional growth at Miami’s convenient airport” to herald the new service, which starts in time for spring break travel. He said the new flights will maintain Frontier’s high health standards, including required wearing of face masks, temperature screenings and enhanced onboard cleaning.

Frontier requires all customers and crew members to wear a face covering throughout their travel journey. Plus, anyone flying with Frontier must complete a health acknowledgement prior to flying confirming that:

• Neither they nor anyone in their household has exhibited COVID-19-related symptoms in the last 14 days
• They will wash/sanitize their hands before boarding the flight
• They understand and acknowledge the airline’s face covering policy and pre-boarding temperature screening policies

During flight, main cabin air is a mix of fresh air drawn from outside and air that has been passed through an air filtration system that features HEPA filters capable of capturing respiratory virus particles at more than 99.9% efficiency – similar to those used in hospital environments. Frontier’s modern all-Airbus fleet is among the youngest in the world; all aircraft currently in operation are less than four years old.

Every traveller aged five or older who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands, by air or sea, including anyone in-transit to another destination, is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and submit a COVID-19 test result prior to travel at: usvitravelportal.com.

 

Staycations are expected to boom in 2021 after lockdown ends, UK holiday firms have said.

Bosses at the Caravan and Motorhome Club said the lifting of restrictions would be like "a cork popping from a bottle". Director general Nick Lomas said although coronavirus had hit the industry hard, they were optimistic about the coming season. Other firms said they also expected more people to holiday in the UK.

Mr Lomas said: "2020 was a very difficult year for the tourism and hospitality sector and the Caravan and Motorhome Club had suffered significant financial losses." He did, however, add: "When our campsites were allowed to be open last year we actually saw record levels of bookings, with new memberships up by 14%. Sadly, this surge does not make up for the losses we suffered during nearly six months of lockdown."

But, despite the current restrictions, Mr Lomas said he had every reason to believe this year could finish as one of "the best and busiest yet", due to the appetite for outdoor UK holidays. "In fact, we think that 2021 is going to be like a cork popping from a bottle," he said.

Experience Freedom, which operates glamping holidays in the UK, said bookings for 2021 were already up as people looked to spend more time in the "great outdoors". Smaller operators such as Anne's Vans, based in Lincoln, are also expecting to benefit.

Owner Anne Davies said so far they had no bookings, saying "uncertainty over when lockdown will end" was putting people off at the moment. However, she said: "Based on last years’ experience we are expecting a bumper year in 2021... once this latest lockdown is over."

The chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, David Butterworth, said visitor numbers after the first lockdown ended were "unprecedented". He added: "The challenge for 2021 is to capitalise on this trend, and capture the hearts and minds of the people who have experienced the Dales for the first time to make sure they keep coming back."