Dear Fellow Motorhomer,
March and the return of motorhome touring edges closer. Thankfully the Covid-19 situation continues to improve in the UK, the vaccination rollout progresses very well and case numbers remain in the right direction. This is good for both our health and for progressing towards Coronavirus restrictions being eased.
At GB Motorhome Tours the last month has been an extremely busy period, with many alterations to the spring tour programme being required. With foreign travel for UK citizens remaining prohibited until at least a point after 17 May 2021, all foreign tours for this spring have been cancelled. Tour participants have been notified and they will shortly be offered priority to replace their foreign tour with a UK tour, more about these UK tours later. GB Motorhome Tours fully understands the importance people place on their holidays, so whenever we are forced to cancel tours we will always try and offer an alternative tour around a similar time to enable those who would like to continue with a holiday to do so. With all foreign travel destinations unachievable until at least later in the year, three UK motorhome tours have now been arranged for this spring. They are :-
A Journey around Ireland – 23 May to 18 June 2021 (26 nights) starting and finishing in Stranraer, Scotland for the ferry to/from Ireland
Scotland Highlands and NC500 – 24 May to 16 June 2021 (23 nights) starting and finishing in Scotland
Exmoor Coastal Fleeces to Flamingos – 21 June to 2 July 2021 (11 nights) starting near Taunton and finishing near Gloucester
Further information for these tours is contained on the GB Motorhome Tours website page for additional 2021 tours. The full itinerary for each tour will be on the GB Motorhome Tours website from Friday 26 March 2021 and at that time bookings for the tours will also be available.
As well as offering those with cancelled spring foreign tour bookings the option to join one of the UK tours they have also been offered the chance to move their foreign tour booking to the same tour re-arranged at a later date. Three of the five tours that were arranged for this spring have moved to 2022 (Greece, Western Turkey and Poland) with the other two (Grand Duchy to Cote d’Azur and Gentle Germany) having moved to September this year. These September re-arranged tours are now on the GB Motorhome Tours website and bookings can be made, subject to places remaining available.
GB Motorhome Tours have always offered a flexible approach to customers who need to make changes to bookings for any reason and throughout the Coronavirus pandemic this has enabled tour participants to switch tours to fit in with their own personal circumstances. This flexibility will continue to be a feature of GB Motorhome Tours.
Since early January leaving from the UK for new travel has been prohibited for UK citizens. However, at the time of the start for this winters Canary Islands tour travel was permitted and whilst the uncertainty of travel over this winter was certainly not for all, it was an opportunity some wished to take. The Canary Islands tour ran from mid-December throughout January and finished at the end of February. The weather throughout was great and the Covid-19 cases in the Canary Islands remained low. No doubt, the all year round warm weather that the islands enjoy, that naturally leads to an outdoor lifestyle plays a big part in keeping Coronavirus cases low. Throughout the Canary Islands, shops, cafes and restaurants all remain open and working normally, with social distancing between tables implemented. Travel in and between each of the 7 islands is open and you are free to explore. For next year the Canary Islands 2022 tour again features in the tour programme and is now available to view and book on the GB Motorhome Tours website.
‘For us it was the first tour with GB Motorhome Tours. From all our heart we say it was the best holiday we have ever been on. All the 68 days, Kevin and Nurcan created a permanent state of safety and protection, for us to fully enjoy the entire programme of the tour. You can go to the Canary Islands on your own but I don’t think you will ever be able to feel, see, taste and enjoy so many things we lived together. We will definitely go on future tours. Very enthusiastic for our next GB Motorhomes Tour. Elena and Mircea Costache – Canary Islands – Dec 2020/Feb 2021
Since last September GB Motorhome Tours have completed 4 tours, 2 in the UK, 1 in Ireland and the Canary Islands winter tour. These have been accomplished in compliance with Coronavirus regulations and in a safe and sensible manner. Wherever possible, GB Motorhome Tours will continue to offer tours for those who wish to travel, both in the UK and on the continent. Over the last 12 months GB Motorhome Tours have built up a wide range of experience and expertise of touring within travel regulations, including making tours socially distanced. This experience continues to be put to good use for the forthcoming UK spring tours which will all be socially distanced.
Usually at this stage of the year, the GB Motorhome Tours programme for the following year would have been finalised with tours made available for booking. Be assured there will be a full tour programme for 2022 and some tours for the early part of 2022 are now being added to the GB Motorhome Tours website and available to book. Further tours will be added as we go.
In the last two months newsletters (these are available to read at Newsletter – GB Motorhome Tours) we have been looking at various items in preparation for future post Brexit travel. So far the newly UK introduced Global Health Insurance Card, along with personal and vehicle travel documents required for continental motorhome travel going forward have been considered. This month we look at what is commonly being referred to as the 90 days out of 180 days rule.
One of the overriding principles of the EU is that free movement of people must be granted to all member’s citizens by all member states. It was this principle that was probably the major decision maker for many people who voted for Brexit. Whilst the EU would likely agree to further free movement if this was requested by the UK, it would require the arrangement to be reciprocated by the UK government for EU citizens. As this would go against everything the UK government campaigned for, to achieve Brexit, it really is not going to happen. That leaves UK citizens in the default position of being from a third party country for travel in the EU, which limits time in the EU to no more than 90 days in any period of 180 rolling days. Whilst 90 days will be fine for some people there are many hundreds of thousands and possibly over a million UK citizens who have regularly spent more than 90 days in 180 within the EU for many years and wish to continue to do so going forward. So what are the possibilities around this?
Firstly, pressure from UK citizens may see the current position become untenable for the UK Government going forward and require them to negotiate an agreement with the EU. This could take the form of a simple visa being required by both UK and EU citizens wishing to spend longer than 90 days out of 180 in the EU/UK. This would certainly resolve the issue whilst also allowing the UK government to class it as ‘selective movement’ (due to a visa being required) rather than ‘free movement’. On this basis it would not go against the governments Brexit position of ending free movement, and could well be a solution.
However, if this is not the case then EU member states can set their own rules on the length of time they allow third party countries citizens to stay in their own countries. EU members are not bound by the 90 day rule if they choose to act differently. Spain and Portugal have both indicated this is a route they will consider if other possibilities do not open up for UK citizens to spend longer than 90 days in their countries.
It is also worth mentioning at this stage, that despite being EU members, time spent by UK citizens in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Ireland does not count towards the 90 days. This comes about for the first four countries with them having different status within the Schengen area (EU visa scheme) to the remainder of the EU member countries and for Ireland, it is exempt through being a member of the UK common travel area.
There is certainly some way to go on this topic and it is one GB Motorhome Tours continues to follow closely. For now, and probably the remainder of 2021, it is unlikely to impact many UK citizens as they will not get away as much as they would have liked for this year and will therefore not exceed 90 days in 180. Going forward we will bring you further updates as progress on this issue is made.
With the longer days and some better weather now arriving in the UK it certainly feels like the right time to start planning to get the motorhome moving again. Take a look at our Spring UK tours for some exciting possibilities. If there is anything you would like to ask feel free to contact us, we are always happy to answer any questions.
We look forward to once again be travelling with you soon.
Nurcan & Kevin, Sue & Ron, Liz & Dave, Cheryl & John