Thomas Cook, the UK’s oldest tour operator, could be making a return to the travel industry a year after the company folded.
The owners of Club Med and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chinese conglomerate Fosun, saved the brand from completely vanishing after it went under in September last year.
According to some reports it looks like Fosun could be bringing back Thomas Cook as a travel agent.
Sky News has reported that Fosun is awaiting necessary regulatory approvals and for any quarantine updates on British citizens.
Thomas Cook looks set to relaunch as just an online travel agent and will be dropping the Thomas Cook airline, high street shops and branded hotels previously operated by the company.
The relaunch is reportedly set to go ahead this month, exactly a year after the company collapsed.
The firm filed for administration on September 23rd last year. The news left 150,000 UK holidaymakers stuck abroad and caused the biggest peacetime repatriation of Britons abroad, totalling to an estimated cost of £150m.
The 178-year-old firm was bailed out by Fosun. Chairman Jiannong said: “The group has always believed in the brand value of Thomas Cook.
“The acquisition of the Thomas Cook brand will enable the group to expand its tourism business building on the extensive brand awareness of Thomas Cook and the robust growth momentum of Chinese outbound tourism.”
He added: “Following the acquisition, the group will focus on business expansion, using the newly acquired Thomas Cook brands to create synergies with the existing businesses of the group.”
The Chinese firm bought the assets including the trademarks, domain names, software applications, social media accounts and licences. However, 555 stores were sold for just £6m to rival Hays Travel.
Travellers arriving in UK without negative Covid test fined £500 then let in anyway
Anyone arriving in the UK must now show a negative Covid test
The new rules for travellers came into effect at the start of the week, with people entering the UK now required to show proof of a negative Covid test.
But according to reports, some passengers have been turning up without a valid negative coronavirus test, and are being fined £500 each and allowed to enter the country by Border Force.
Speaking to the Mail Online, the Home Office confirmed that anyone who arrives without the necessary proof will be fined but still let into the country – although they are required to quarantine for ten days.
People have been facing two hour queues as they arrived into the country due to the new checks, although some passengers claimed there was a complete lack of social distancing.
Gabrielle Rivers, a research fellow at Oxford University, told The Times after arriving from Washington: “I don’t know how they would expect old people to cope. They are crowding people together in tight spaces. If we didn’t have Covid then, we will now. It was very rammed.”
Journalist Graeme Culliford, arriving from Dubai, added: “It took a while because of the queues at customs. I suspected they would not check for negative Covid tests but they did. They were very thorough in the end.
“There were a few altercations between passengers and border officials and at one point I heard one official say he’d fined three people £500 already for not having proof of a test.”
Following the government’s suspension of travel corridors, anyone arriving in the UK – including British citizens – must now have a negative test and quarantine on arrival.
These measures were brought in to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants, including the ones that have originated in South African and Brazil.
Spain’s new tourism plan will let Brits holiday without restrictions in a matter of months
Spain has revealed when it will be reopening to British holidaymakers with restriction-free travel.
In a bid to boost tourism and welcome tourists back to Spain the country has launched a campaign that should reassure travellers it’s safe to visit.
Currently, Spain remains off the UK travel corridor list meaning arrivals from the country will have to self-isolate on entry to Britain (excluding the Canary Islands).
Visitors must present a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours on arrival to enter the country.
The latest €2 million campaign hopes to welcome visitors without restrictions by the end of March, reports the MEN.
There will be a daily updated ‘Travel Safe’ section on the spain.info website which will have measures in individual regions including, for example, restaurant capacities.
The Turespaña strategy will continue while coronavirus restrictions remain, already welcome in popular destinations including Menorca and Ibiza.
The Balearic Islands are expected to be the first to welcome restriction-free travel. The Balearic tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, told local media: “First of all, however, there is the task of positioning, selling and explaining to the world that the islands are a safe destination.”
See the Covid-19 measures in Spain here.
Manchester Airport opens brand new Covid-19 testing facility for passengers
It’s set to make travel easier.
Manchester Airport has launched a new Covid-19 testing facility today, as part of a move by its parent company the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in partnership with travel medical provider Collinson.
This means the full range of tests – RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, Rapid Antigen and Antibody – will be available to all passengers in a brand new facility just outside of the main terminal building.
MAG has also become the first operator to give passengers the chance to book discounted pre-flight testing appointments on the high street, at selected Boots stores in the UK.
The news means passengers using Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports will be given maximum flexibility when planning their trips, and comes in the week that the UK Government lifts England’s international travel ban.
Certain governments currently allow pre-departure tests in order to shorten or completely alleviate quarantine requirements in the destination country, while others require them in order to gain entry.
Passengers will also now be able to book any tests they need to shorten their self-isolation period upon return under the UK Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.
The scheme, announced last week, will launch on December 15th and allows travellers arriving from higher risk countries to reduce their period of quarantine by taking a test five days after they arrive in the UK.
‘Test to Release’ follows in the footsteps of a number of countries who are already offering quarantine-free inbound travel to those able to provide evidence of a negative test.
Boots offers an in-store RT-PCR Covid-19 testing service – which returns results within 48 hours – from more than 50 stores across the UK, specifically for customers who do not suspect they have Covid-19.
MAG passengers will be able to access a 5% discount, which customers can access through the airport’s website.
Airport testing prices through Collinson start at £40 for Antibody tests, £50 for Antigen tests, £79 for RT-LAMP tests and £99 for RT-PCR tests.
Managing Director of Manchester Airport, Karen Smart, said: “As the UK emerges from a ban on international travel, we know our passengers are keen to start flying again, but that many of Manchester Airport’s most popular destinations, such as the Canary Islands, require a negative test before you arrive.
“This new facility will make the process of showing you’re infection-free when planning and booking a holiday as easy and cost-effective as possible in the current circumstances. Our new booking platform makes it easy to select the right test for your destination, and at the location that is most convenient for you.
“Located right by the terminal building means passengers can either opt for a test on the day of departure before they go through security, or visit in the run up to their journey at a time to suit them.
“This also means Manchester is perfectly placed to support the introduction of a UK arrivals testing regime, which will enable travellers to reduce the length of time they need to self-isolate if they test negative after five days.
“This is the latest example of MAG leading the way as we look to work with Government and the rest of our industry to get Britain flying again.”