As French hotels, villas and chateaux open back up, where to stay while maintaining distance - Telegraph.co.uk

As French hotels, villas and chateaux open back up, where to stay while maintaining distance - Telegraph.co.uk


As French hotels, villas and chateaux open back up, where to stay while maintaining distance - Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: 24 Jun 2020 02:54 AM PDT

One of the many things we are dreaming about right now is escaping. Somewhere warmer, brighter and more spacious, full of joie de vivre.  The very idea of France, with its buttery morning croissants, leafy vineyards and noble chateaux seems like an unbridled decadence in these times. 

And there, from Paris to Nice, bars, cafés and restaurants have reopened at last. Some hotels, too, have already flung open their doors. We'll have to wait still for the grand announcement, but there are whispers that it could be possible for us to cross the Channel from July.  

The rules and regulations are yet to be set out, but since we might have to quarantine for two weeks on either side of la Manche, to make it worthwhile, you may as well settle down for as long as you can. And that means seeking out comfort in as luxurious a bolthole as can be found. From wine estates to bucolic chateaux and hotels with their own secluded villas, these are eight possible options. 

Villa Eleana, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap d'Antibes

The grande dame of the French Riviera, famed for its Cannes Film Festival parties, plans to reopen its glass doors on July 1. Don't expect to be air kissing George Clooney or Robert de Niro any time soon, though. 

Villa Eleana has a view onto the bay

It is here that Madonna is said to accept only yellow roses, red fruits and black coffee for breakfast, in the privacy of one of the hotel's suites. Go one better and commandeer Villa Eleana, the three-bedroom mini mansion which is discreetly situated a short distance from the main hotel. 

The all-white sanctuary has its sitting room and a private garden overlooking the bay of Juan-les-Pins. It also has a kitchen but fret not - you won't have to cook for yourself. Your butler can fetch three-Michelin-starred langoustines and mara des bois strawberries from the hotel's restaurants instead. 

The sitting room at Villa Eleana

While you'll still have access to the hotel's saltwater pool, tennis courts and gym, this is a chance to hunker down in seclusion. And you'll want for nothing. The villa has its own pool, so there's no need for mingling, and your private butler will handle the rest. 

For an idyllic sundowner, the villa comes with its own cabana on a cliff top overlooking the sea.

Rates from €17,500 (approx. £15,500) per night B&B, including airport transfers from Nice Airport, two one-hour body treatments per day, car with driver for five hours per day, private butler, laundry and exclusive access to a seafront cabana; oetkercollection.com

Villa Alore, near Saint Tropez

Escape to the country and stay in a sprawling villa overlooking the port of Saint Tropez, the longtime jet set playground. It all started with Brigitte Bardot and her starring role in And God Created Women (1956), and then came Cher and Grace Jones, Prince Charles and Paloma Picasso, all partying at the hotel Byblos in town.  

Villa Alore near Saint Tropez

High up above the bay, Villa Alore emanates bucolic decadence with creamy interiors and green lawns - and it's available for hire now. Five guest suites are done up in a bright neutral palette with French doors opening out onto the patio. 

The large kitchen is fitted with a marble breakfast bar and cooking facilities to please even a Michelin-starred chef (who can be flown in for you by Onefinestay). Vast sofas, chandeliers and a fireplace mean the living room is a home away from home. A staffed service is optional and includes a discreet daily housekeeping team, personal concierge and a villa host. 

A staffed service is optional

Outdoors, there is a terraced dining area for evenings en famille, a long stretch of lawn perfect for petanques and a large heated swimming pool with views over the bay. Sundecks and chillout spaces are dotted around and an additional pool house features a summer kitchen so you can remain outside as long as possible. 

Minimum stay is seven nights. The weekly rate starts from $39,665 (approx. £35,500) including fully staffed service, such as a private Michelin trained chef, discreet daily housekeeping team, personal concierge and dedicated private villa host; onefinestay.com

Domaine des Etangs, Massignac

The Charente region in France always flies somewhat under the radar, but it's a hub for makers (JM Weston and Hermes artisans work nearby in Limoges) and gastronomy (the area is known for its butter, beef and oysters). 

Domaine des Etangs is a vast estate

Spending time here is perfect for creative or literary souls with a need to reinvigorate their imagination. And the Domaine des Etangs estate seems curated to do just that - set in over 1,000 hectares of countryside, it's a paradise of forest, grassland, landscaped gardens and lakes. You could get lost for hours winding through the foliage and lounging by the water.

Lodgings are kingly, with options to stay in the renovated château or its farm cottages. With 29 rooms and suites in total, the estate can be hired out in its entirety for a grand old time - and it has already reopened to the public. 

The 11th-century chateau at the heart of the property comprises seven bedrooms, a fumoir, library, dining room, and an array of salons, or party rooms. Choose to stay here if you're in search of amusements and sneak up to the vast castle attic which is filled with snooker tables and games. For a more secluded space opt for one of the six farmhouse cottages. 

There is a hidden games room in the attic of the castle

There is also a vegetable garden, Gallo-Roman baths, two swimming pools, a tennis court and a Michelin-star restaurant on site. Boating, horse riding, fishing, tennis and yoga are on offer, in addition to the spa, Moulin des Etangs, located inside a converted water mill. In all, one couldn't possibly get bored. 

Exclusive hire of Domaine des Etangs starts at €80,000 (approx. £71,657) for two nights for the entire property including the castle, restaurant, farm cottages and all facilities; domainedesetangs.com

Chalets Hibou and Pelerin, French Alps

The living room in Chalet Hibou

After months of being cooped up in lockdown, what better way to break free than with your own private adventure retreat. Fresh mountain air is just part of the allure at Eleven Experience's Chalet Hibou and Chalet Pelerin, set high up in the historic mountain village of Le Miroir which has just 500 full-time residents. 

The Alpage is a sheep herder's hut turned off-piste dining outpost 

Both of the chalets are perfect for families. Chalet Hibou has five king bedrooms, one queen bedroom with a sitting area and one bunk room, all with en suite bathrooms. Chalet Pelerin has four bedrooms and one bunk room, a children's playroom and indoor pool. 

Relax with a glass of cremant in the outdoor hot tub, or sweat off lockdown in the Finnish sauna and steam room. You'll be cooked for by an open fire in The Alpage, a sheep herder's hut turned off-piste dining outpost where chef Natanel whips up Savoyard dishes like pumpkin velouté with the region's famed Beaufort cheese, Côte de Bouef, raclette and fondue. 

Chalet Pelerin has four bedrooms and one bunk room, a children's playroom and indoor pool 

A local dairy farmer will deliver yogurt to your door each morning to accompany a lavish mountain breakfast spread of muesli, home-made bread, and fresh farm eggs to set you up for a day whizzing along famous Tour de France routes, trekking alpine forest trails or paddling in sapphire blue lakes with expert guides. 

Summer rates at Chalet Hibou start from £6,542 per night for a private chalet buy out based on 14 guests. Summer rates at Chalet Pelerin start from £4,597 per night for private chalet buy out based on 10 guests. Price includes private concierge, full guide service, all gear for activities, pre-arrival planning with an Eleven Experience Manager, use of the Alpage, all meals and house alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks; elevenexperience.com 

Villa Clarisse, Ile de Ré

Ile de Ré, a 30-kilometre-long island in the South West of France, is a summer hotspot for bourgeois Parisians (or 'les bobos' as islanders call them, meaning bohemian bourgeois). Its summer residents have included actors such as Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis and Audrey Tautou, and many discreet politicians who you may encounter over a noisette coffee and a copy of Le Figaro at any one of the local cafés.

Villa Clarisse is in Saint Martin, the capital of Ile de Ré

The vibe here is cycling to-and-fro between breezy oyster farms where you can taste some of the best bivalves in the world (pair them with a Bordeaux rather than sampling the local plonk) and sandy beaches which, somehow, never get too busy. All shutters and doors on Ile de Ré must be painted in one of 12 permitted colours and houses must not be built higher than two stories so tastefulness is guaranteed. 

One of the many salt beds on the island

Villa Clarisse is an 18th-century mansion, located in the heart of the old town of Saint Martin,  the main town on the island, and home to several top restaurants such as the Baleine Bleue. The house itself is nestled on a quiet cobbled street, and has nine suites, making it the ideal bolthole for families and can be rented in its entirety. It has its own outdoor pool and spa treatments on request. A private chef is available on demand, as is a butler.

Villa Clarisse is available for private rental from €2,500 up to €6,620 per night (approx. £2,239 and £5,929) depending on the season; villa-clarisse.com

Terre Blanche, Provence 

Why not luxuriate in a villa at the perfectly manicured Provencal village-style hotel, Terre Blanche? Known for being eco-friendly, with electric transport, donkeys providing natural weed control, and enthusiastic use of local suppliers, the most spectacular thing about it is the view onto Provencal forests and mountains as far as the eye can see. And then there is the Michelin-star restaurant, wine cellar, spa, tennis court, championship golf courses and golf academy. 

The Terre Blanche Prestige Villa 

Reopening on July 10, this five-star hotel comprises 115 suites and villas. Different grades of villa are on offer, but the pinnacle is the Terre Blanche Prestige Villa. 

Terre Blanche is set out like a Provencal village

It has three bedrooms (one master, one king, one twin) each with en-suite bathrooms, a living room and office space, cinema room, kitchen and dining room and a sprawling outdoor terrace which also includes a private swimming pool and hot tub. All of the villas come with the option of a private chef.

The Terre Blanche Prestige Villa has a minimum stay of three nights, at €4,590 per night (approx. £4,111); terre-blanche.com

Vineyard House, Château Troplong Mondot, Saint Emilion

For enhanced isolation, head deep into the vineyards of Chateau Troplong Mondot in the renowned wine region of Saint Emilion for a stay in the Vineyard House (La Maison des Vignes). It is already open for bookings. 

The Chateau seen from above

Secluded among the vines, along a path lined with hydrangeas and lavender bushes, the rustic house is best for a couple or a small family. The sitting room is warmed on colder nights by an immense fireplace, two double suites have private bathrooms and the terrace which opens out onto the vineyards themselves. While the house is lost among the vines, it's still only a 20 minute walk from Saint Emilion. 

There are two double suites in the house

The property does not have a kitchen for guests to cook themselves, but meals are served on a private terrace.  Picnic lunches in secret spots are available and small plates are served in the evening. 

The pool at Chateau Troplong Mondot

During the day you might observe the workings of the winery (and don't miss out on the tastings), take an electric bike out along the quiet back roads to the neighbouring chateaux, or head up to the sky in a hot air balloon. It would be criminal not to see the evening off without a glass of Troplong Mondot in hand. 

A two night 'Romance by Troplong Mondot' experience starts from €1,560 based on two people sharing on a B&B basis, including bespoke picnic, a private tour of the estate, and a hot air balloon ride. For more information visit troplong-mondot.com

Domaine du Chalet, Champagne

Situated between Reims and Epernay, where better to escape post lockdown than true Champagne country? The obvious perk is the champagne, much needed after all this angst, but the property itself is just as interesting: built in 1860, Domaine du Chalet is one of the heritage estates of the Champagne region. Secluded in the village of Chigny-les-Roses in the Montagne de Reims natural park, the stately home's staff will keep your glass filled with Palmer and Co. champagne. 

Domaine du Chalet is situated between Reims and Epernay

There are four suites with private bathrooms in the main house and one externally - the Canopée suite, which is essentially a decadent, terraced treehouse, located ten metres high in a beech tree. How's that for isolation?

The Canopée suite is located ten metres high in a beech tree

Food, wherever you are on the estate, is prepared by Damien Litaudon, Chef at the House of Palmer & Co. Dishes offer a modern and creative wine-pairing experience, highlighting regional produce such as ham, truffles, mustard and cheese. When you aren't eating, take a tour of the estate, swim in the indoor heated pool or sample a selection of champagnes on the terrace. 

Price on request; domaine-du-chalet.com/en/

Sign up for the Telegraph Luxury newsletter  for your weekly dose of exquisite taste and expert opinion. 

#TimeForTravel: Emirates extends route network for July; Paris Orly Airport reopens - The Moodie Davitt Report - The Moodie Davitt Report

Posted: 29 Jun 2020 12:55 AM PDT

While "a crisis like no other" (in the words of the International Monetary Fund) rages, it is important to identify and highlight the sectors of the aviation, tourism and travel retail business that are beginning more rapidly, to recover.

In this column, we bring you regular updates about how airports, airlines, travel retailers and brands are planning for and investing in the recovery; how governments are opening borders; and how various stakeholders are shaping up for the new normal. Please send your contributions to Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com.

Europe

EU governments today agreed to lift travel restrictions on a 'safe list' of third party states whose residents can travel into the regional bloc from 1 July.

The list agreed by the EU Council of Ministers includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China will soon be added, subject to reciprocity, said the Council. The US is not included on the initial list.

Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) are also permitted, while residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican are considered as EU residents for the purpose of this recommendation. UK travellers can visit EU states but must quarantine on their return. EU governments lifted restrictions between EU states on 15 June though some governments continue to limit visitors from certain states.

The list of travel-friendly states will be updated every two weeks, said the Council.

The criteria to determine the third countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted cover the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations.

Qatar/Canada

Qatar Airways will operate three flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport every week from 4 July as it continues to extend its network. The airline already operates four flights per week to Montreal in Canada.

Qatar Airways has kept up a service to Canada throughout the COVID-19 crisis

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: "We have worked closely with the Government of Canada and its embassies around the world during this crisis to safely bring home over 16,000 Canadians through our scheduled flights to Montreal and special charter flights to Toronto and Vancouver.

"Qatar Airways has never stopped operating to Canada throughout this crisis and we are pleased to be able to further strengthen our support to the people of Canada with the addition of these three weekly scheduled flights to Toronto."

Kuwait

Commercial flights at Kuwait International Airport will resume on 1 August, the government's communications office has said.

The government has agreed on a three-stage resumption plan, with the airport initially operating at 30% capacity.

Egypt

EgyptAir will resume flying tomorrow (1 July), with new destinations being introduced throughout July.

From 1 July, the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt will start flights to Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Athens, Beirut, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Dubai, Erbil, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Tunis, Juba, London, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Rome, Sharjah, Toronto, Vienna and Washington.

Flights to Copenhagen, Guangzhou and Geneva will resume on 8 July. From 15 July, the airline will restart its service to Barcelona, Dar es Salaam and Madrid.

A health declaration form will need to be filled out by non-Egyptian Passengers during the flight before landing.

South Africa

Airports Company South Africa will reopen Port Elizabeth, Upington and Bloemfontein airports tomorrow (1 July).

"Airport management and staff have been getting ready for this moment for a few weeks now; they have implemented the extensive measures that are required by the regulations. Airport staff have been trained and are ready to activate the new procedures," Airports Company South Africa Spokesperson Gopolang Peme said.

The airport operator reopened South Africa's three busiest airports – O.R. Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka – on 1 June and reports passengers have been receptive to the hygiene measures.

Turkey

ATÜ Duty Free, the partnership between TAV Airports and Unifree Duty Free/Gebr Heinemann, has started reopening its stores in Turkish airports.

The retailer first of all restarted operations in the ATÜ store in the domestic terminal of Milas-Bodrum Airport last week. This has now also been joined by the Hermès, Bvlgari and Montblanc boutiques in Istanbul Airport.

Read the full story here

UK

London City Airport CEO Robert Sinclair has released a message that welcomes passengers back to the airport as it reintroduces additional routes.

The London airport resumed commercial operations on 21 June, with several new routes set to be introduced in July.

Domestic flights to Teesside and Dundee will restart on 6 July. This will be followed by British Airways CityFlyer journeys to Ibiza, Florence, Málaga and Palma on 10 July. The airport's most popular route – KLM's flight to Amsterdam – will restart on 13 July. The network will then be boosted on 20 July with flights from the London airport to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin.

Lebanon

Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport will reopen on 1 July, with Middle East Airlines set to resume operations on the same day.

Passengers from Abu Dhabi, Accra, Amman, Athens, Baghdad, Basra, Brussels, Cairo, Dammam, Dubai, Erbil, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul, Jeddah, Lagos, Larnaca, London, Medina, Najaf, Paris and Riyadh will need to have tested negative for COVID-19 96 hours before flying with the airline. A further test will then be done on arrival.

Passengers flying from Abidjan, Copenhagen, Doha, Kuwait, Milan, Rome or Yerevan will take a test on arrival and a further one 72 hours after landing.

Estonia

Tallink Grupp is adding more departures to its Helsinki-Riga and Turku-Tallinn routes for August, citing strong consumer demand. The temporary Helsinki-Riga route was originally due to operate only until 16 August, but it will now continue until at least 28 August.

Between 17-28 August, Silja Serenade will operate on this route with departures from Helsinki on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Baltic Queen will ply the Turku-Tallinn route on weekdays in July, and on weekends from 31 July, with additional departures on Fridays. The increased sailing schedule offers Tallink an opportunity to build its crucial onboard shopping business.

"The two new temporary routes Helsinki-Riga and Turku-Tallinn have proved very popular among our customers very quickly, so we are pleased to be able to offer even more opportunities to travel on these routes in August," said Tallink CEO Paavo Nõgene.

"As travel opportunities to more distant places remain limited and confidence to travel further afield than the Baltics and Finland this summer is low, it is important that we continue to provide suitable options for everyone who wants to travel in our region. We will only sell a certain amount of tickets for each departure so that the vessels would not be too crowded and so that everyone has the opportunity to keep the desired distance from others. This is the main reason for adding more departures."

Ireland

Aer Rianta International (ARI) today reopened its stores under The Loop brand at Dublin Airport. They have not traded since mid-March, when the government ordered the closure of all non-essential retail to contain the spread of coronavirus. The openings will be followed by more in coming days across the ARI network, at Cork, Muscat and Beirut airports.

Click here for the full story.

France

After 13 weeks closed, Paris Aéroport Orly reopened on Friday 26 June. The first flight to take off was a Transavia service to Porto.

As part of the gradual resumption of traffic, said Groupe ADP, around 70 flights operated last Friday on domestic (mainly Air Corsica), Schengen (Transavia) and overseas routes (the latter with Corsair International, Air Caraïbes and French bee). More than 8,000 passengers used the airport on its first day back in business. Click on the video below for footage of the return to service.

UAE

Emirates continues to expand its route network as travel restrictions ease, announcing today that it will re-start passenger flights to Cairo, Tunis (both from 1 July), Glasgow (from 15 July) and Malé (from 16 July).

This will bring Emirates' network to 52 destinations in July through its Dubai hub. The company said it will continue to grow its network serving the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas.

Customers can also travel to Dubai following the announcement last week that the city will be open to business and leisure visitors from 7 July.

International

Dufry is ramping up its store operations around the world amid eased travel restrictions, an increase in flight connections, and a boost in airport activity.

In the second half of June, Dufry has reopened or is reopening multiple key operations across various global locations. These include stores at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2; several Spanish airports such as Madrid, Barcelona and Mallorca; Zürich in Switzerland; as well as numerous shops in Cancún, Mexico; Jordan, and the US.

Recognising that the sector leader serves as a bellwether for the fortunes of the travel retail channel. The Moodie Davitt Report is providing exclusive coverage of Dufry's progressive return to business via a regular new column.

Click here for full details.

Germany

Terminal 1 at Munich Airport will reopen on 8 July. Operations will initially resume in areas C, D and E.

Most of the airlines that operated in Terminal 1 before it was shut down will return. Only Eurowings, Qatar Airways, Tui Fly, SunExpress, and Pegasus Airlines will remain in Terminal 2 for the time being.

All handling areas that are being reopened have been kitted out with floor markings, protective screens, information posters, hand sanitizer dispensers and other services designed to prevent infection.

Nearly 200 passenger and cargo flights are currently taking off and landing at the airport every day, with the daily passenger numbers up to around 10,000.

In July, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad Airways are set to resume several long-haul routes from Munich. The airport is expecting to see over 250 aircraft movements a day from the start of the month.

Taipei

Passengers travelling with selected airlines are now able to transit through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

The Central Epidemic Command Center has announced that passengers flying with China Airlines, Eva Air and Cathay Pacific can now transit through the airport if their connecting flight is with the same airline and within eight hours of their arrival. Flights to areas of China where COVID-19 continues to spread have been excluded and Mainland Chinese nationals are still barred from transiting through the airport.

Transit passengers must stay in a designated area and remain separate from other airport users, as is currently seen at Singapore Changi Airport.

Deputy Head of the Central Epidemic Command Center Chen Tsung-yen added that these passengers will still be able to access duty-free shopping and food in the waiting area, according to The South China Morning Post.

Germany

Passenger traffic at the two Berlin airports – Schönefeld and Tegel – has doubled in the past week.

Flughafen Berlin said 8,000 passengers are currently being handled every day across the two airports. The airport operator added that it is expecting this number to be well above 10,000 by the beginning of July.

Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg CEO Engelbert Lütke Daldrup said: "All of us, including the airlines and Berlin's airports, are noticing a significant increase in the willingness to travel. We are pleased that the airlines have reacted quickly and comprehensively to the lifted travel restrictions in Europe."

Around 70 destinations are expected to be offered from the two airports this summer.

Alongside the growth in traffic, dining and shopping facilities at both airports are also opening again. At Schönefeld, F&B outlets Almhütte and Quickers are now open, as are Essbahn and the pharmacy at Berlin Tegel, with car rental trading at both airports. Opening hours are still limited and arranged in line with flight times. More services will follow at the beginning of July as flight operations increase.

Turkey

Milas-Bodrum Airport today welcomed its first scheduled international flight following the easing of travel restrictions. A Sunexpress flight from Hannover landed this morning, with further services from Sunexpress, Corendon and Edelweiss planned from other European destinations.

The return of tourism: TAV Airports staff greet passengers on the Hannover flight to Bodrum

TAV Milas-Bodrum Operation Coordinator Iclal Kayaoglu said: "Domestic flights have been going on since the beginning of the month, thanks to the comprehensive precautions we took in collaboration with our stakeholders. We hope that the international flights continue to increase and look forward to welcoming more guests from all over the world."

Germany

Frankfurt Airport has reported rising passenger volumes, with flights to many popular destinations having resumed.

Ahead of the summer holidays beginning in many German states next week, the airport has released a video detailing the measures it has taken to protect passengers as travel picks up.

Flights from Frankfurt to popular summer destinations, as well as some long-haul locations, are picking up. Fraport Head of Service Quality Thomas Kirner commented: "The approach that our airport and the airlines are taking to mitigate the risk of infection has been designed with this trend in mind.

"By requiring everyone to wear face coverings and implementing many other measures, we've paved the way for vacationers to safely begin their trips. There's no need for anyone to miss out on their well-deserved holidays; like everywhere else these days, they just have to follow the rules."

UAE

Dubai-based airline flydubai is to restart flights on 7 July. It will initially serve 24 destinations, climbing to 66 over the Summer.

Chief Commercial Officer Hamad Obaidalla said: "We welcome a return to service in a safe and measured way. We have redesigned our passenger journey that is built upon existing high standards to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and we can now bring people together once again. This, along with the clear and simple guidelines set out by the authorities means it's the perfect time to return to the skies."

From next month flydubai will operate services to the following destinations, subject to government approvals: Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Almaty, Amman, Baku, Beirut, Belgrade, Bucharest, Dubrovnik, Esfahan, Juba, Kabul, Khartoum, Kiev, Krakow, Lar, Nur-Sultan, Prague, Sarajevo, Shiraz, Sofia, Tbilisi, Tehran and Yerevan.

USA

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is planning a sharp increase in flight numbers over the Summer as business returns to the region. Since casinos reopened on 4 June, said the airport company, domestic tourism demand has surged.

By August, scheduled daily flight arrivals into Las Vegas is slated to increase to more than 330. That compared to 11 at the lowest point of travel during the pandemic, In May, the top ten domestic carriers combined to average 145 scheduled arrivals daily. In June that total rose to nearly 200, and in July it will exceed 280 per day.

Southwest Airlines will see the largest jump in summer service, averaging 156 daily arrivals in August compared to 87 in May. Delta Air Lines will increase from an average of ten arrivals a day in May to 32 in August.

Most of the increases will come from US routes but flights from selected foreign markets, led by Canada and Mexico, are expected to follow as restrictions are lifted.

"McCarran International Airport is at the forefront of the Las Vegas comeback story," said Clark County Director of Aviation Rosemary Vassiliadis. "The significant investment in increased scheduling shows the confidence our airline partners have in travellers' demand to return to our incredible destination, and it underscores the hard work being done to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 here at the airport."

Thailand

Phuket Hotels Association President Anthony Lark says the campaign "evokes the soul of the destination"

Phuket Hotels Association and global hospitality branding agency QUO have partnered to unveil a destination recovery campaign to boost tourism in Phuket.

The 'Imagine Phuket' campaign showcases the myriad of sights, sounds, and flavours of Phuket to inspire travellers to visit the island. It is one of the first islands in Asia to embark on such a significant relaunch initiative.

The campaign brings together 75 of Phuket's leading hospitality players to inspire travellers to visit Phuket once again.

Phuket Hotels Association President Anthony Lark commented, "Phuket is the leading resort destination in Asia and one of the most-loved resort destinations anywhere in the world. Our members have come together with QUO to create a campaign, in both English and Thai, to evoke the soul of the destination."

"The Imagine Phuket video, and integrated social media campaign, are designed to drive emotion," added QUO CEO David Keen. "We know that there is a massive desire to travel again, both locally and internationally. Our intent is to bring the story back to Phuket."

Phuket's hospitality sector has been severely impacted by the pandemic. The island has already lost THB120 billion (US$3.9 million) worth of income due to the slump in tourism, with losses expected to more than double by year end if the situation doesn't improve.

PHA: Imagine Phuket Eng from QUO on Vimeo.

Scandinavia

All seven Viking Line vessels will have returned to passenger service from 2 July, with the Mariella and Cinderella ships returning to duty on this date.

Mariella will sail the Helsinki–Tallinn route; Cinderella will operate Stockholm–Mariehamn waters, as well as special cruises from Stockholm to Visby.

"It is such a joy to see people returning to our ships. Our passengers have expressed their satisfaction with our range of timetable options. Holidays in the surrounding countries remain very popular and we believe that this will be a busy summer," Viking Line Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kaj Takolander said.

The ferry company added that its pre-order option, which allows for retail purchases to be delivered directly to cars or picked up onboard, is increasing in popularity.

US

Hawaii has said arrivals from out of state will no longer have to quarantine on arrival from August if they have a valid COVID-19 negative test.

All arrivals in the archipelago have been subject to a 14-day quarantine since March, but from 1 August they will be able to avoid this if they have tested negative 72 hours before their arrival.

"The health of our community continues to be our primary focus and priority," the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, said. "This multi-layered screening process allows travellers to return and allows us to continue to protect the health and safety of our community."

Malaysia

Malaysia Airlines will reopen its Golden Lounge network from 1 July as the carrier prepares to resume international flights from next month.

The initial schedule will feature weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kochi, Sri Lanka, Taipei, Guangzhou, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Surabaya.

It will fly twice weekly to Dhaka, Kathmandu, London, Osaka, Narita, Incheon, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Denpansar and Phuket.

Malaysia Airlines will fly three times a week to Manila, four times to Jakarta and Bangkok and five times to Singapore.

The inflight dining service will be modified to limit contact between cabin crew and passengers, said the airline, but will be available for all cabin classes. Duty free services will remain suspended for the time being.

Montenegro

JSC Airports of Montenegro Chief Executive Officer Danilo Orlandić reports that Montenegro has introduced a new methodology for further border opening. The country thus maintains its distinctive policy of providing the highest-degree protection from #COVID-19 both for its citizens and tourists. The protocol is effective Sunday, 21 June at 24:00.

Germany

Passenger traffic at Berlin Schönefeld and Tegel airports has more than doubled compared to last week, to around 8,000 per day. The move follows the lifting of a travel warning for EU countries last week, with capacity added by airline partners.

As the holiday seasons begins, Schönefeld and Tegel are offering flights to 52 destinations in 31 countries. By the beginning of July the number of daily guests is expected to reach well over 10,000 and around 70 destinations are expected to be offered from Berlin's airports this summer.

Asia

AirAsia sold 41,000 seats yesterday (23 June), the highest in a single day since travel restrictions were introduced in the airline's markets.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said: "We are encouraged by this positive trend and we foresee this will continue in the coming weeks."

Traffic for the airline's website has grown +170% in recent weeks. The most popular routes included Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Kuala Lumpur for Malaysia; Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Hat Yai for Thailand; Manila to Puerto Princesa and Davao for the Philippines; Delhi to Srinagar, and Bengaluru to Hyderabad for India; and Jakarta to Denpasar and Medan for Indonesia.

"We are aiming to increase our flight frequencies to around 50% of our pre-COVID operations and we look forward to resuming all domestic routes in the coming weeks and months to cater to the increasing demand. Currently, we are operating 152 daily flights across the region," Fernandes added.

"We look forward to the reopening of international borders in recognition of the fact that air transport provides the connectivity that is essential for the resumption of economic activities and the global recovery efforts."

UK

KLM will resume flights from London City Airport on 13 July, restoring the popular connection between Amsterdam and London. Last year, Amsterdam was the most popular route at the central London airport, with 664,621 passengers flying between the two locations, up +6.9% year-on-year (the route was served by up to three airlines, including KLM).

This positive news follows the recent confirmation of BA CityFlyer's first returning routes at London City, and the resumption of flights on Sunday.

Austria

Gebr Heinemann this week reopened its operation at Vienna Airport Terminal 3 after 98 days of lockdown.

Country Director Roman Koch offered an upbeat message to colleagues and business partners.

"We are immensely proud of our team that has shown a tremendous amount of team spirit during this challenging time," he said. "We are now giving our best to gradually get back to where we used to stand. It will be a long walk requiring a lot of endeavour and perseverance. However, we are positive and hopeful that step by step we will successfully move forward."

He added: "For the months to come, only Terminal 3 will be in operation, hence our focus will be on our shops in that area while our shops in Terminal 2 will be partly reconstructed."

Japan/Italy

Good news from DFS: the world's leading luxury travel retailer reopened its T Galleria by DFS on the Japanese island of Okinawa at the weekend and will reopen the acclaimed T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS in Venice on 1 July. Click here for full story.

DFS gets back to business on Okinawa

Latin America

Airports Council International Latin America and Caribbean (ACI LAC) Director General Rafael Echevarne offered an up-to-date snapshot of planned travel reopenings across the region during a webinar hosted by South American duty free association ASUTIL. See chart below.

Mexico is the only country open for all travel in and out, he noted. Chile and Brazil have remained open for domestic travel, while Ecuador is allowing inbound travellers with a 14-day quarantine in place.

ACI LAC is forecasting recovery of regional traffic to 2019 levels by 2023.

Full story coming soon.

Planned start of travel by country, with restrictions in place (Source: ACI-LAC)

Ireland

Shannon Airport, the birthplace of duty free in 1947, will reopen to flights from 1 July. Ryanair is due to restart 16 services to these destinations: Alicante, Barcelona-Reus, Faro, Fuerteventura, Kaunas, Krakow, Lanzarote, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Malaga, Manchester, Palma, Tenerife, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Vienna.

Shannon Airport recommends that all passengers wear a face covering when inside the airport terminal building. Only travellers should enter the building.

Protective glass screens have been erected at customer facing areas throughout the terminal including at check-in, customer service desks, security screening areas, retail and at boarding gates.

Distancing will be introduced at Shannon Airport shops and restaurants, with other precautions throughout the terminal (Photo: Cathal Noonan, True Media)

Passengers are requested to limit the use of cash in shops, bars and restaurants, with contactless payments the preferred choice across all outlets as they reopen. Socially distanced seating will be in place. Physical distancing queueing will be in place when shopping and ordering food at the airport. Once food orders are placed, customers will return to their seats and their orders will be delivered to their tables.

International

Research by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has found that 22% of destinations worldwide have started to ease restrictions for tourists.

The UNWTO research shows 48 countries have now started to open up; this is a large increase compared to the seven countries that had eased restrictions as of 18 May. The majority of places that are more open to tourists are in Europe, where 37 of the 48 destinations are located.

However, 65% of all destinations worldwide (141 locations) still have their borders completely closed to international tourism.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: "This latest overview of global travel restrictions shows that a growing numbers of destinations are beginning to ease the restrictions they introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is being done in a responsible and measured way.

"However, this crisis is not over. UNWTO will continue to work with our member states around the world to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and to ensure that, when the time is right, tourism can help drive a responsible and sustainable recover."

Ireland

The Irish Task Force for Aviation Recovery has called on government to ease travel restrictions and remove the 14-day quarantine for inbound travellers by 1 July.

The Task Force was set up by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to examine proposals to protect the Irish aviation industry.

Its interim report calls for "clarity" about what will be required to ease the restrictions on non-essential travel to and from Ireland. Ideally, these restrictions should be eased by 1 July, the report noted.

It added: "Much of the Irish achievement and leadership in aviation is now imperilled by the economic impact of Covid-19. Deeper and lasting damage is imminent. Without clear visibility on government intentions as regards economic coexistence with the virus, the national aviation industry is struggling to plan the management and retention of its assets, including workforce, aircraft, routes and physical infrastructures."

DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, welcomed the publication. "Tourism, trade and foreign direct investment are key elements of the Irish economy and over the medium-term, aviation will play a major role in helping the Irish economy to begin to recover from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said DAA Chief Executive Dalton Philips.

US/China

Delta Air Lines has become the first US airline to announce resumed travel connecting China with the US since a temporary suspension was put in place in February.

In a welcome move, the airline will restart its service between Seattle–Tacoma and Shanghai Pudong airports via Incheon in South Korea on 25 June. This will at first operate twice a week. Delta added it is planning to also resume its service from Detroit to Shanghai via Incheon in July.

Delta and other US airlines have not taken off for China since February

Delta Air Lines President – Greater China and Singapore Wong Hong said: "We are excited to resume our services between the US and China, as economic and social activities start to recover. With a mission to connect the world, Delta is committed to getting our customers to their destinations safely and confidently, especially at this critical time."

Europe

A survey of travellers conducted by SchengenVisaInfo.com shows that 80% are planning to travel to the Schengen Area within the first three months of border reopening. Most will travel for tourism purposes.

The survey, undertaken from 1 to 10 June, had 2,636 responses from 87 countries, both within and beyond the EU.

For almost three months, non-EU/EEA citizens have been ineligible to enter the Schengen Area, due to an entry ban introduced by the Member States in March, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Europe. Many borders were also closed to travellers within the region.

With borders reopening, of those that now plan to travel into or within the Schengen region, 62.5% said they would aim to do so within one month of restrictions easing. Germany and France top the list of Schengen countries that travellers plan to visit.

Of the travellers surveyed, 46.4% do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Area, as they are nationals of one of the 62 countries under the Schengen visa-free regime.

Other planning to travel either hold a valid Schengen visa or hope to apply for one to travel within a short timeframe.

Taipei

Business travellers from 15 territories are now permitted to enter Taiwan.

The Central Epidemic Command Center has approved entry for travellers from New Zealand, Australia, Macau, Palau, Fiji, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mongolia, Bhutan, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, effective yesterday (22 June).

Business travellers from these destinations will be allowed entry for up to three-months if they provide a letter of invitation, travel itinerary and evidence of a negative COVID-19 test from the past 72 hours.

Arrivals from these countries will still be required to quarantine. Those from low-risk territories (New Zealand, Australia, Macau, Palau, Fiji, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mongolia and Bhutan) can leave quarantine if they test negative after five days.

Singapore

Customers flying from a number of Asia Pacific destinations with Singapore Airlines and its subsidiaries can now make return trips that transit through Singapore Changi Airport.

As of yesterday (22 June), those travelling to and from certain destinations in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand can now transit in Changi on return trips. This widens the prospect for tourism between the approved locations.

The latest list from Singapore Airlines of approved destinations for return travel

Passengers are still only permitted to transit in Changi for outbound flights to other destinations in the Singapore Airlines network. For example, return trips for Tokyo-Singapore-Sydney can be booked, but only one-way trips are available for Tokyo-Singapore-Copenhagen journeys.

Dedicated areas for transit passengers have been created at Singapore Changi Airport

As reported, Changi Airport Group has revealed a dedicated area that will ensure transit passengers do not mix with other passengers. In the transit space, travellers can make duty free purchases using a concierge service and have the products delivered to the transit area. Products ordered on the iShopChangi ecommerce service can also be delivered.

UK

HMS Host International reopened its acclaimed Leon restaurant at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 yesterday.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce the reopening of our Leon restaurant in Terminal 2 at Heathrow airport today," said HMSHost International CEO Walter Seib.

"More good news to share is that it looks like we are the joint first hospitality business to open in an airport airside in the UK. Well done to Andre our Hospitality Manager; Rob, our Store Manager; and the entire team in Leon LHR, to make this a very successful (and safe) reopening."

New Zealand/China

UAE

International

Courtesy of MSC Cruise Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway, we publish welcome news of how the cruiseline is planning an ambitious and adapted winter season 20/21.  "We are bringing back 14 ships into service right across the globe, allowing us to once again deliver our memorable retail experiences," he said.

"We will have four ships in South America, four in the Caribbean (including launching in Port Canaveral), two in South Africa, one in Mediterranean, one in the Middle East, one in Asia and one incredible world cruise.

"Cruise retail is coming back soon."

Qatar

Qatar Airways has further boosted its global network by reintroducing flights to Budapest, Dar es Salaam, Dhaka, Istanbul and New York in the past week. The Doha-based airline now operates over 270 weekly flights to more than 45 destinations.

Qatar Airways said that bookings continue to rise as travel restrictions ease worldwide. To reflect this, it is increasing the frequency of its services to the following destinations:

  • Athens (increased from three weekly to daily flights)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (increased from three weekly to daily flights)
  • Dublin (increased from five weekly to daily flights)
  • Islamabad (now operating two daily flights)
  • Jakarta (increased from four weekly to daily flights)
  • Karachi (now operating two daily flights)
  • Lahore (now operating two daily flights)
  • Milan (increased from five weekly to daily flights)
  • Rome (increased from six weekly to daily flights)
  • Singapore (increasing from three weekly to daily flights)

As reported, Qatar Airways has maintained a robust network throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline accumulated over 1.3 billion revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) during April – more than triple the tally of its nearest competitor.

UK

Dufry-owned World Duty Free has reopened after a three-month shutdown. Terminal Manager Jamie Anderson posted the news on LinkedIn, saying, "After a long week last week preparing for our main store at LHR T2 to re-open, we pulled the shutters back at 5am this morning. First sale this morning was to a lady that spent £100 on Shiseido at 5.10am.

"We have five flights to Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi this morning and a charter to Xi'an in China, two flights to Korea and Air India to Hyderabad this evening – a total of over 60 flights departing today. Well done to all the team involved in the reopening."

UK

Virgin Atlantic has revealed its plan to restart passenger flights, with a limited schedule from 20 July and then a wider range of services from 1 August.

Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen said: "As countries around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, we look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to many destinations across our network. From 20 July we are planning to resume some services and then from 1 August onwards, we will resume passenger flying to 17 additional destinations around the world including Tel Aviv, Miami, Lagos and San Francisco."

Back in the air: Virgin Atlantic will resume flights from its Heathrow and Manchester bases from 20 July

Jarvinen called on the UK government to review its 14-day quarantine policy for visitors, and urged "a multi-layered approach of public health and screening measures, including air bridges, which will support a successful and safe restart of international air travel."

Virgin Atlantic has delayed the restart of its London Heathrow to Orlando service to 24 August. Seasonal services from Glasgow and Belfast to Orlando will resume for selected dates in summer 2021. The airline said it expects more flights to resume in September and October.

As reported, Virgin Atlantic has exited London Gatwick Airport and will operate from Heathrow and Manchester in the UK as part of its cost-cutting response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UAE

Dubai will welcome tourists and visitors from overseas from 7 July, the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has announced.

The committee added that from today (22 June) foreign nationals holding resident visas issued in Dubai will be able to return to the emirate. Citizens and residents of Dubai will also be allowed to travel to any destination willing to receive them from 23 June.

International tourists travelling to Dubai from 7 July will need to fill in a Health Declaration Form before boarding and test negative for COVID-19 96 hours ahead of departure. They will also be subject to thermal screening on arrival.

Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said: "This is a strong affirmation of Dubai's readiness to resume aviation and economic activity after comprehensive planning, review, and preparation.

"We are confident that the multi-layered measures that have been put in place in the air, on the ground, and throughout our city, enables us to mitigate risks of infection spread and manage any required response effectively."

Ready for takeoff: Emirates will announce more destinations in the coming days

He added: "Currently, Emirates connects Dubai to 40 cities, and with the latest directives, we have the opportunity to expand our network and offer additional destinations, which will be communicated in the coming days."

Cyprus

Hermes Airports, which operates Larnaca International Airport and Paphos International Airport, has moved to phase B of its recovery plan.

The two busiest airports in Cyprus are now connected to further countries. These have been placed in Category A, B or C.

Passengers arriving from Thessaloniki Airport are greeted at Paphos Airport by the Cypriot Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Yiannis Karousos (right)

The Category A countries are Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, North Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Travellers from these destinations will have to complete a Passenger Locator Form.

Arrivals from Category B countries (Belgium, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Jordan, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Romania and the UAE) will need to complete the same form and prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past 72 hours.

All other countries are classed as Category C. Only Cypriot citizens, those legally living in Cyprus and persons allowed to enter the country under the Vienna Convention can enter Cyprus from these countries. Arrivals from Category C countries will also need to complete the Passenger Locator Form and prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the past 72 hours.

Hermes Airports CEO Eleni Kaloyirou said: "This is a very different restart, after a period of time which was unknown for all of us. Through the measures which are in effect as of 9 June at Larnaca and Paphos airports, we aim to make passengers feel safe and secure during their journey via the airports. At the same time, with the restoration to a large extent of the flight schedule, we aspire to give Cypriot tourism the necessary drive to restart and make up for the time lost."

Since they reopened as part of the first phase on 9 June, 11,604 passengers have travelled to and from Cyprus through the two airports.

Morocco

The Moroccan government has announced domestic flights will resume on 24 June as lockdown restrictions are marginally eased across the country.

All international flights will remain suspended, with no indication on when these will restart.

France

Nice Côte d'Azur Airport will further accelerate its recovery in July when it will be connected with 79 destinations and Terminal 2 will fully open.

The airport, which has served 19 locations in June, will next month increase its network to 17 destinations in France and 62 internationally.

Aéroports de la Côte d'Azur Chairman of the Board Dominique Thillaud said: "With this flight schedule, Nice Côte d'Azur regains its position as a contributor to the economic dynamism of the area and enables the entire southern region's residents to travel, as well as tourists, whether for business or leisure, to return to Nice."

Ukraine

Alexander Kolomytsev, Deputy Director General at the Gebr Heinemann partnership in Ukraine, BFGH Travel Retail, reports that the stores at Boryspil International, Igor Sikorsky Kyiv International and Odessa International airports have reopened.

"First steps to recovery!" he writes. "The recovery path is hard and slow, but we returned stronger and prepared, proud and brand new, with an increased liquor, tobacco and confectionery Premium Taste shop in KBP (Boryspil International). We welcome all passengers of Ukraine to enjoy the modern advanced ambience of the shop, selected products and attractive price offers."

Estonia

Baltic Sea cruise-ferry company Tallink has extended the number of services on its Tallinn-Turku route this Summer due to strong demand, a move that should also boost the crucial onboard revenue shopping channel.

The new temporary route, served by the Baltic Queen vessel, was only launched on Monday but a surge in bookings has led to the company adding 12 more return trips in late July and early August.

Importantly for Tallink's onboard retail business, all departures will make a short stopover in the Åland Islands, allowing passengers the opportunity for tax free shopping during the trip.

Tallink Grupp CEO Paavo Nõgene said: "The popularity of the Tallinn-Turku route shows that our customers have really been looking forward to us opening this route. They are using this opportunity to travel and discover Tallinn and Estonia directly from the Turku area, or to travel directly from Tallinn to Muumin World, Naantali resort or to Western Finland in general.

"Since the interest is significant and we don't want to pack the trips too full, we have decided to add extra departures to the route to offer everyone a spacious and comfortable journey. We are very pleased that there is such a great interest in travelling between our neighbouring countries and we look forward to seeing everyone onboard."

Malta

Malta International Airport will open on 1 July, with flights to selected destinations initially (see also 17 June news). These include Germany, Austria, Sicily, Cyprus, Switzerland, Iceland, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Luxembourg and Czech Republic. In recent days this list has been extended to include France (selected locations), Italy (selected locations), Spain (selected locations), Poland, Greece and Croatia. Restrictions on all other flight destinations will be lifted on 15 July, Prime Minister Robert Abela has confirmed.

The Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection and the Malta Tourism Authority plan a "spectacular event" including a fireworks display on 1 July to coincide with the reopening of the airport to commercial flights.

Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli said: "Many were sceptical that we could arrive at this stage this quickly, but we managed, thanks to the efforts of countless people. On 1 July we shall celebrate reaching this goal in the context of our promise that there will be a summer. We started delivering on that promise and our commitment towards this goal takes on a new dimension."

Germany

Frankfurt Airport will be connected with 175 destinations by the end of June.

The German airport has reported that in the number of weekly flights to Mediterranean holiday destinations has been increasing in the second half of June. Weekly connections to Mallorca have jumped from six to 26, and the Greek islands will be served by the airport for the first time since March from 29 June.

Of the 175 destinations, about 50 of these will be intercontinental routes, with the airport opening up to further locations in the Far East and the Americas.

Frankfurt Airport added that it will continue to process all traffic through Terminal 1.

Diverse destinations: The Frankfurt Airport departures board on 19 June

UK

Scheduled passenger flights from East Midlands Airport will resume on 21 June.

Passengers arriving on the Ryanair flight from Alicante at 15.20 will be the first to step inside the terminal since March.

A total of 16 Ryanair flights to and from the airport are scheduled for before the end of June.

"This is a really positive development," East Midlands Airport Managing Director Karen Smart said. "I am confident that many people across the region will start using their local airport again for a quick and easy getaway to their favourite holiday destinations when conditions allow."

NOTE: For our earlier updates, click here

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