Travel-starved Britons hurry to book villas in southern Italy

Travel-starved Britons hurry to book villas in southern Italy

Rush for la dolce vita: Travel-starved Britons hurry to book villas in southern Italy after quarantine rule for double jabbed UK arrivals was dropped

  • Fully-vaccinated Britons will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival in Italy
  • They will now only need negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival
  • Britons travelling to Italy must have had second jab at least 14 days before travel
  • Self-isolation rules remain in force for those who have not been double-jabbed 

Tourism chiefs have reported a boom in bookings for Italy after it said it would drop Covid-19 quarantine rules for double-jabbed arrivals from Britain from tomorrow.

Up to four million Britons visited Italy each year before the pandemic, before the industry was battered in the past 18 months due to international travel restrictions.

But the change in rules which comes into force tomorrow means fully-vaccinated Britons will only require a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival.

Anyone travelling to Italy must also have had their second vaccine at least 14 days before travel. The rules remain in force for those who have not been double-jabbed.

Now, travel experts say Britons have been rushing to book trips again, especially for southern Italian villas in Puglia, which often attract wealthier tourists from the UK.

The region, which forms the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’, runs along with the Mediterranean coast – and is known for its hill towns, beautiful architecture and port capital of Bari. 

Puglia is a favourite of celebrities including the Beckhams and Madonna, with the  singer a regular visitor who celebrated her 63rd birthday there earlier this month. 

Villa Trullo Oro Verde in Ostuni, Puglia, which is available for £2,148 per week in September

Travel experts have said Britons have been rushing to book trips again, especially for southern Italian villas in the likes of Puglia. The town of Carovigno in the region is pictured

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline today: ‘It’s proven that when countries open their doors more widely, then visitors respond positively and start booking.

‘Italy’s move to abandon 5-day quarantine for fully-jabbed British visitors will pay off, creating a stronger, late summer season, especially in southern areas such as Puglia.

What are the new rules for Brits travelling to Italy from tomorrow? 

DOUBLE VACCINATED?

ARRIVAL IN ITALY

  • Fully-vaccinated Britons will only require a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival.

RETURN TO ENGLAND

  • Take a Covid-19 test in the three days before you travel to England.
  • Then take a second test on or before day two after arriving in England.

NOT DOUBLE VACCINATED? 

ARRIVAL IN ITALY

  • Quarantine for five days and produce a negative test before you are allowed to move around Italy. 

RETURN TO ENGLAND

  • Take a Covid-19 test in the three days before you travel to England.
  • Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for ten days. 
  • Take a second test on or before day two and on or after day eight.
  • You can also end quarantine early on day five if you pay for a private test through the Test to Release scheme. 

‘There will be many, great-value villas available to hire in the late September and October season.’

Italy is currently on Britain’s ‘amber list’ for travel, which means arrivals from the country to the UK – including returning tourists – must take a PCR test three days before travelling and another after arriving.

Double-jabbed arrivals from Italy to the UK do not have to quarantine but others must stay at home for ten days, unless they pay for Test to Release after five days.

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza tweeted on Saturday that he had signed a decree ending ‘the mini-quarantine of five days’ for visitors from the UK.

The country had re-imposed the quarantine for those arriving from Britain from June 21 as the Delta variant spread rapidly through the United Kingdom.

However the minister said restrictions remained in force on people arriving from other non-EU countries.

Tourism represents 14 per cent of Italy’s gross domestic product and has been battered by the pandemic. Italy saw 65million visitors in 2019, making it one of the world’s most popular destinations.

Since early August, Italy has required proof of vaccination, recent recovery from coronavirus or a negative test for people wanting to dine indoors or enter museums and sports events.

Some coronavirus restrictions were placed on Sicily again last Friday as the spread of the Delta variant caused concern – the first time such measures have been re-imposed on a regional level since the start of summer.

These came into effect yesterday, after Sicily had been reporting more than 1,000 new cases of virus every day since the middle of August, and exceeded the threshold for number of hospital and intensive care beds occupied.

Mr Speranza said shifting Sicily to a yellow zone from a white zone ‘is the confirmation that the virus has not yet been defeated, and that the priority is to continue to invest in the vaccine campaign and on prudent and correct behaviors by each of us.’ 

Tourists at the Colosseum in Rome during the summer holidays in Italy last week on August 25

Britons have been rushing to book trips again to the likes of Rome, pictured on August 25

The new restrictions come as Italians begin to wind down summer holidays, with Sicily as a popular destination.

People in Sicily are now required to wear masks outdoors. Seating at restaurants is limited to four at a table, even outdoors. 

Meanwhile Italy’s national statistics bureau ISTAT said today that the country’s economy jumped 2.7 per cent in the second quarter, in line with initial estimates, helped by strong growth in both the industry and service sectors. 

The Italian government officially forecasts the economy will rebound 4.5 per cent this year after the record contraction of 8.9 per cent in 2020 when activity was ravaged by the pandemic.

Recent data has been stronger than expected, however, and government officials have said growth of around 5 per cent this year now looks likely provided there is no worsening of the virus situation. 

Also today, Ryanair has nudged up its passenger target for the autumn amid signs of a ‘very strong recovery’ in European short-haul flights, chief executive Michael O’Leary said today.

He said the Irish airline, Europe’s largest by passenger numbers, is expected to fly 10.5 million passengers per month in September, October and November.

That compares with a July forecast of an average of 10 million for each of those months. ‘As long as there are no adverse COVID developments, things are set fair for a very strong recovery,’ Mr O’Leary told Reuters ahead of a press briefing in Brussels.

He also said Ryanair was on target to exceed its 10.5 million passenger target for August. Capacity should return to pre-pandemic levels in October, from close to 90 per cent in September and 80 per cent in August, he added. 

But the airline is likely to fly with an average of 15 to 20 per cent empty seats on planes this winter compared with 7 to 8 per cent before the pandemic. 

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza (pictured in Rome on August 5) tweeted on Saturday that he had signed a decree ending ‘the mini-quarantine of five days’ for visitors from the UK

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said today (pictured in Brussels) that the airline has nudged up its passenger target amid signs of a ‘very strong recovery’ in short-haul flights

‘Through the winter, pricing will continue to build, but it will still be below (pre-)COVID,’ he said. ‘We don’t expect pricing to go back to pre-COVID levels until the summer of 2022.’

Home Office figures released last week showed that air passenger arrivals were still 87 per cent lower than normal last month. Just 1,439,800 people arrived by air in the UK, compared with 11,151,600 in July 2019. 

Ministers faced a furious backlash last week after they failed to open up any new major holiday destinations for quarantine-free holidays. 

Turkey remained on the red list, along with the Maldives and Pakistan, while Thailand and Montenegro turned red, meaning returning travellers must quarantine in hotels for 11 nights, costing £2,285, effectively putting them off limits. 

Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Switzerland and the Azores became green, but they were all previously amber so double-jabbed Britons could visit them without quarantining.

Three options for a last-minute holiday to Italy going this weekend

If you fancy a last-minute trip to Italy, here are some deals via Tui for a seven-night stay for two people, leaving from a London airport this Saturday.

Hotel D’Annunzio, in Lido di Jesolo (£523pp)

Family-run three-star hotel which is a few minutes’ walk away from the beach and 90 minutes from Venice. It has a suntrap pool and an Italian restaurant-bar. Price includes a twin room with a balcony, half-board meals and return easyJet flights from Gatwick. The hotel has a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor.

Grande Baia Resort And Spa, in San Teodoro, Sardinia (£944pp)

This four-star complex with 138 rooms is set in 197 acres of parkland, with direct access down to a secluded beach. The price is for a junior suite with a garden or pool view and terrace, and includes half-board and return flights from Gatwick to Olbia with easyJet. The hotel has a 4-star TripAdvisor rating.

Villa Diodoro, in Taormina (£978pp)

This hillside four-star hotels offers views across the bay to Mount Etna and is five minutes’ walk from the centre of Taormina. It features a large pool with a bar and the price includes half-board meals as well as return flights from Gatwick to Sicily Catania with easyJet. The twin rooms have a garden view.

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