Holiday boost for Britons as ‘vaccine rush’ means Italy set to open for ‘Covid-free’ trips

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Local officials have launched special immunisation campaigns on 30 of the country’s most popular tourist islands with the aim of jabbing their entire populations within three weeks. The “vaccine rush” will open up Mediterranean hotspots, such as Sicily and Capri, to international travellers without any restrictions. Italian politicians worked up the strategy to give a welcome boost to their pandemic-stricken tourism industry, which accounts for around 13 percent of the country’s economy.

And it will increase pressure on Boris Johnson to review his travel green list with holiday bosses also hoping to cash in.

Italy has already dropped all quarantine requirements for Britons arriving with a negative test.

But it is still classified as amber, with the Government advising against people travelling there on holiday.

Those returning from Italy face having to self-isolate for up to 10 days and fork out for at least three costly coronavirus tests.

Many of Italy’s remote islands have managed to remain Covid-free throughout the pandemic.

That means locals are hoping they can be quickly opened up to holidaymakers as soon as their small populations are vaccinated.

Sicily’s tourism boss Manlio Messina said: “The ‘Covid-free’ campaign is going speedily. On a daily basis across Sicily we’re vaccinating 56,000 people, and have the potential of reaching a target of 100,000 daily shots. Islands are our priority.”

He added the strategy “increases even more their charm for tourists looking for safe, pristine holiday spots”.

Kickstarting travel to Italy’s island is seen as the first stage of its plan to “reboot” after its economy was ravaged by the pandemic.

Mayor Antonio Fentini, of Tremiti in the Adriatic Sea, is revelling in his isle’s Covid-free status.

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He said: “My islands live off tourism, if you take that away from the equation what are we left with, how can our little economy survive? We can’t wait to get back to work.”

Some remote Alpine resorts in the northern Piedmont region are also planning to reopen to hikers under the “Covid-free” branding.

Italy was one of the European countries worst hit by the pandemic but has managed to transform its fortunes with an impressive jabs rollout to 30 million people – around half of its population.

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UK travel chiefs now want the Prime Minister to introduce regional travel corridors for areas with low infection and high vaccination rates.

Abta, the travel agents’ body, said: “We’re encouraging the Government to reintroduce the islands policy it had last year and adopt a regional approach to travel advice for large countries, as a risk-based and pragmatic way of opening up international travel to more places.”

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