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From boosters to Brexit: What will your holiday look like in 2022?

No entry for the unjabbed, EU visas and the art of ‘trip stacking’ - here’s everything that should be on your travel radar for the year ahead, says Lucy Thackray

Friday 31 December 2021 15:59
<p>You’ll need to keep track of more than your passport in 2022</p>

You’ll need to keep track of more than your passport in 2022

If you thought 2021 was complex, get ready for 2022. While the travel industry is optimistic about the freedoms enabled by Covid-19 vaccines, and an increasing amount of destinations are opening up to holidaymakers, there will still be fresh paperwork, new buzzwords and new scenarios to plan for.

Here’s what to watch out for when holidaying in the year ahead.

Vaccine passports

Get ready to wave that vaccination record with pride - an increasing number of destinations are demanding that you show proof of full vaccination in order to either enter the country or its indoor venues. This sounds straightforward for most adults, but it’s trickier for family breaks - while some 82 per cent of over-12s have now been double vaccinated in the UK, most under-12s have not.

Yet several countries are already effectively banning unjabbed children from indoor venues, with strict rules around showing proof of full vaccination. Some - such as France and Germany - apply the rule only to over 12s, but New York recently implemented rules for children as young as five. Regardless of new variants and surging cases, vaccine passports look to become an everyday part of travel. Austria is trying to help families enjoy a normal trip with their Holiday Ninja Pass, a record of frequent Covid testing that can be used by teens and children during trips - although at the time of writing, all but those with a booster jab must currently quarantine on entry to Austria. Enter our next hot topic...

Booster jabs

Forget being double-jabbed - being “boosted” will be the new must-have status for holidaymakers in 2022. Just a few months into the first vaccines being approved, researchers were drawing conclusions about how long they give effective protection, with most concluding that immunity wanes at around five to nine months after your second jab. Hence the UK’s mega-rollout of booster shots as the earliest-jabbed crossed the five or six month line. As the travel industry learns to live with Covid-19, boosters will be increasingly vital for travel abroad.

Some countries already insist that you must have had a “final” vaccine dose within the past nine months to enter - Austria and Croatia have each imposed “expiry dates” of 270 days on proof of full vaccination. Elsewhere, the EU recently voted to cap vaccine passports’ validity at nine months, meaning you’ll need a booster jab after that time for your NHS Covid Pass (or similar) to remain valid across Europe; and France has already insisted over 65s get a booster in order for proof of vaccination to be deemed valid on their travels.

Post-Brexit ripples

You may have thought that post-Brexit rule changes (such as needing to get your passport stamped on entry and exit from the EU) would have been wrapped up in 2021. But the Etias system will be the next thing to come in - that’s the European Travel and Information and Authorisation Scheme. From an unconfirmed date in “late 2022”, travellers from the UK will have to pre-register their details and pay €7 to access all countries in the Schengen Area of Europe.

Rather than a visa, Europe says that Etias is “a pre-travel authorisation system for visa-exempt travellers” - a similar concept to the US Esta and Canadian eTA.

Elsewhere, the EU’s long-planned Entry/Exit System (EES) will also kick in from 2022, with facial and fingerprint biometrics to be collected from every non-EU visitor to Europe’s Schengen area. Industry experts including The Independent’s Simon Calder have predicted chaos for those arriving by road, rail or ferry, with no e-gate system or equivalent set up for those travellers.

With long-stay visas for European countries proving tricky for UK travellers in 2021 - Britons cannot stay longer than 90 days in any 180 day period - there’s hope on the horizon when it comes to visiting specific nations within the EU. Portugal, Spain, Malta and Greece are all expected to cooperate with frequent British visitors and second-homers by creating easier or cheaper visas for stays longer than three months.

Lastly, watch out for a jump in roaming costs from your mobile network provider - until January 2021, phone users were mostly able to use their phones across the EU with no add-ons to their mobile tariffs. Post-Brexit, Three, EE and Vodafone have all announced plans to start charging customers extra for the privilege - EE’s changes come in from January, while Three adds a fixed charge to European usage from May. The Republic of Ireland and Isle of Man will be exempt from the new charges.

Selective destinations

The ability to filter certain types of tourists and reopen to visitors in phases means some countries may start to become more exclusive - and not just for unvaccinated travellers. A tourism minister in Bali made waves in September when he commented that the island would  be aiming for “quality tourism” and suggested that backpackers would not initially be allowed in. The minister quickly corrected his wording, but many countries from Vietnam to New Zealand are implementing phased reopenings that start with certain nationalities or visa holders before opening out to the wider world.

Other popular holiday spots have been using the general tourism slump caused by the pandemic’s border closures to question who should be allowed back in once travel resumes, and how they could be managed. Venice - which has suffered from the effects of overtourism for years - is reportedly set to introduce a visitor’s fee, online booking system and even theme-park-style turnstiles from next year, to control the numbers of tourists allowed in. New Zealand earlier this month released a “roadmap” for how tourism might restart once global Covid cases decline, suggesting that a “new normal” may not be reached until 2024.

Last-minute jaunts and ‘trip stacking’

If the emergence of the Omicron variant has taught us anything, it’s that travel rules can change in a heartbeat. This will have shaken the faith of many travel fans who had foreseen the industry’s recovery as one steady upward trajectory, rather than two steps forward, one step back. More flexibility on moving or changing bookings has been one blessing of the pandemic era, with many more travellers trusting tour operators as the most secure way to book a trip.

So it seems likely that more travellers will wait to book closer to their intended travel dates, in order to have a clearer picture of the travel landscape at that point. In terms of advanced bookings, a more privileged trend is “trip stacking” - booking two trips for the same time period in the hope that at least one of them might come off.

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