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Digital NHS COVID Pass available in Wales for urgent travel

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People living in Wales who have received the Covid vaccine will be able to access their vaccination status via the internet from today [25 June] to generate an NHS COVID Pass for urgent outbound international travel.

Vaccine certificates have been available in Wales since May for those who need to urgently travel internationally and provide proof of their vaccination status, with certificates being sent in the post. 

The paper certificates will continue to be issued only for people who are unable to access the digital Pass. Access to the NHS COVID Pass in Wales means that proof of vaccination will be available for people to show on their phone, tablet or laptop.

Covid vaccination status is available if you:

  • Have had the COVID-19 vaccine 
  • Were vaccinated in Wales
  • Are aged 16 or over

The digital pass will show if you have been vaccinated against Covid, although you will still need to check entry requirements for the country you intend to visit such as number of vaccination doses, testing and isolation, and will still need to follow travel rules such as pre-departure testing.

Your Covid vaccination status can be viewed online on the NHS COVID Pass website, where you can either download or print it as a PDF document.  This is the only valid digital vaccination status available; any alternative services claiming to offer proof of vaccine status for a fee are not legitimate.

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Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “I’m pleased that people in Wales can now access their vaccination status via the NHS COVID Pass if they need to travel urgently and have completed their vaccine course.

“It’s important to remember that the Welsh Government advice on travel hasn’t changed, and people should only consider international travel if absolutely essential.”

People in Wales can now access their vaccination status on their phone, tablet or laptop using the digital NHS COVID Pass. Work is ongoing to integrate England’s NHS App and NHS Wales systems to allow people in Wales to use it.

People can request a bilingual NHS COVID Pass letter by calling 0300 303 5667.


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Cardiff Airport

Wizz Air scraps most Cardiff flights from September

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Popular low cost airline Wizz Air has announced that it is cancelling most of its flights from Cardiff Airport between September and April.

Around 40 of its staff are being offered positions at other UK airports over the Winter.

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Services affected include destinations such as Alicante, Corfu, Heraklion, Faro, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el-Sheikh, and Tenerife.

The airline blamed the “challenging macro-economic environment” for the cuts, which kick in from 19 September.

Wizz Air will continue to fly from Cardiff to Milan and Bucharest as part of its Winter schedule launching on 30 October.

Marion Geoffroy, managing director, Wizz Air UK, said: “We are very disappointed to have to suspend several routes from Cardiff Airport for the winter season.”Though these routes have proved popular through the summer season, it would not be commercially viable to continue to operate them through this coming winter due to the challenging macro-economic environment. This leaves us with no option but to pause these routes until next spring.

“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this will cause customers who already booked flights with us. We are in touch with all affected customers to explain their options.The airline currently bases a single Airbus A321neo at the Welsh gateway with up to 40 staff.

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“We continue to value our close working relationship with Cardiff Airport and plan to resume base operations at the airport next year… It takes time to build up sustainable operations at any base and we are prepared to build up operations at Cardiff over the long term.”

Wizz Air has announced most of its flights from Cardiff will be cancelled from September

Cardiff Airport announced the launch of Wizz Air to great fanfair in December 2020, however due to the pandemic flights did not actually start until April 2022.

Spencer Birns, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airpot, said: “It is disappointing and frustrating for our customers whose travel plans are disrupted as a result of Wizz Air’s reduction of operations at Cardiff Airport over the winter, which we understand is due to economic factors.

“We always encourage airlines that fly from Cardiff to ensure that they look after their customers who are booked to travel in the event of disruption and understand that Wizz Air have put steps in place to do this for those passengers who have already booked to travel in the period of the pause.

“We have seen great demand for travel to and from Wales this year and our teams have been working really hard to ensure our customers have been able to take safe journeys through the Airport facilities with minimal disruption.

“We remain confident that the people living in Wales really want to make use of flight services that are cost effective and convenient. Our efforts to work with airlines to deploy more capacity on high demand routes will certainly continue.

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“The announcement today of the two new routes to Italy and Romania commencing this autumn along with the summer 2023 schedule is welcome news. We look forward to Wizz Air increasing its operations to popular holiday destinations from Cardiff again next spring”.

Wizz Air launched its services at Cardiff 4 months ago, but has now cancelled the majority of them over the Winter.

Julie James MS, Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, said: “Whilst this is disappointing news for Cardiff Airport, the airline has stressed to the Airport Board that this is a temporary change to its operations at Cardiff Airport, which was launched in April this year, following a 12 month delay due to the pandemic, and that it remains committed to resuming its scheduled summer timetable from Cardiff Airport from April 2023.

“Despite this difficult commercial decision, I welcome the news that Wizz Air will continue to offer services from Cardiff over the winter season to Milan and Bucharest.”

Welsh Conservative spokeswoman for transport Natasha Asghar MS said: “This is incredibly disappointing news for Cardiff Airport, which has already seen falling passenger numbers and continues to make a loss.

“Wales needs an airport that will attract airlines in order to boost the economy and show Wales off to the world.

“Labour ministers need to monitor the situation and provide urgent clarity as to when the services will resume and what alternative routes are being planned from other airlines”.

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Neath Port Talbot

Free waterfall park and ride returns for the Summer

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A popular park and ride scheme aimed at easing tourist traffic congestion heading to waterfalls near Pontneddfechan in the Neath Valley is returning for the Summer.

Neath Port Talbot Council is working in partnership with Brecon Beacons National Park Authority and local transport operators DJ Thomas and Forge Travel to reintroduce the free Waterfall Country Park Ride Service this summer.

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Starting at Lancaster Close Car Park in Glynneath, the service will run on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday from Saturday 23rd July to Sunday 4th September 2022. 

Originally introduced in 2021, the Waterfall Country Park and Ride pilot project has been extended for a further two years with the aim of having a positive impact on the local community by easing intense visitor parking pressures in nearby Pontneddfechan, one of the main starting points for walks in Waterfall Country. It will also improve the visitor experience by avoiding the need to drive down crowded lanes and searching for space in very busy car parks. 

Visitors will be able to catch the service from the Lancaster Close Car Park and designated bus stops between Glynneath and the Village Hall in Pontneddfechan. 

In response to visitor feedback, this year will also see the introduction of a second bus service operating between Glynneath and Gwaun Hepste Car Park which is located within the National Park and is the starting point for the very popular Four Falls Trail. 

It is hoped that in addition to parking at Lancaster Close, visitors will take time to explore the town of Glynneath and the many independent shops and cafes that operate in the town.

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Waterfall Country is a hugely popular visitor destination which hosts a range of beautiful waterfalls. In recent years the small villages within Waterfall Country have seen a huge increases in visitors, leaving the local community unable to cope with the number of cars attempting to park in the area.

Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “We are pleased to be able to extend the Waterfall Country Park and Ride pilot for an additional two years and to expand the service up to Gwaun Hepste Car Park. We wold urge visitors to make use of this free and convenient service and to be mindful of the impact that high levels of visitor traffic can have on local residents within Waterfall Country.”

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Chief Executive of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, added: “A range of ongoing measures have been implemented by our partners and ourselves to ease visitor pressures across Waterfall Country and the impact on local communities. Last year’s Park and Ride Service was a success and we are asking visitors to be mindful again this summer and utilise the service where possible, to assist our local communities.”

(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Gower

Pembrokeshire and Gower both rank in Top 5 underrated UK staycation spots

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According to social media platform Reddit, Pembrokeshire and Gower Peninsular are two of the most underrated staycation spots to holiday in the UK this year.

Reddit has teamed up with Airbnb, English Heritage, Rough Guides, and Trainline to help Brits discover spectacular, yet underrated, staycation spots that are just a stone’s throw away.

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Reddit is where people go to dive deep into their interests, hobbies, and passions, sharing real-life thoughts and perspectives and building community along the way; and, travel tips are no exception. In fact, we’ve seen a 34% increase year-over-year in conversations about UK travel destinations and holidays across Reddit.

The community makes Reddit a go-to hub for holiday-goers to chat and share real and unfiltered recommendations. Redditors are able to engage with other like-minded staycationers and ask hard-hitting questions about their potential trips… is it dog friendly? … suitable for little ones? … travelling alone?…what’s the food scene like?

Timed with the official summer holiday season, we’ve huddled with some of the leading travel resources and platforms in the UK, including Airbnb, English Heritage, Rough Guides, and Trainline, to share the ultimate guide for underrated summer travel spots. Whether people are itching to get off the beaten path, looking for short trips, or have an upcoming unplanned bank holiday to take advantage of, Reddit has them covered.

While a foreign, exotic holiday destination may often be the dream trip, if people know where to go, a UK staycation can offer just as much beauty, adventure, and luxury. And, it can often be the more sustainable choice as people can forgo flying and instead travel by train, bus or car – keeping their carbon footprints low and avoiding the hassle and stress that an airport often brings.

From beachy vibes on the Welsh coast to a Highland hike, there’s something for everyone on our list.

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Based on conversations on Reddit, here are the best underrated staycation spots this summer as judged by Redditors – with some destinations also seeing search increases according to Airbnb:

  1. Bedfordshire, England
  2. The Highlands, Scotland
  3. Orkney Islands, Scotland
  4. Pembrokeshire, Wales
  5. Gower Peninsula, Wales
  6. Yorkshire England
  7. Lancashire, England

BEDFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND

Happily Bedfordshire has more to offer than £1 flights to Magaluf via. Luton Airport. This Redditor shared a few scenic snaps from Wrest Park in the quaint village of Silsoe, Bedfordshire; a magnificent 19th century French chateau style house set in an outstanding restored landscape garden originating in the 17th century.

According to their post, no matter their mood, they always feel more centred after a couple of hours wandering the grounds. Fun fact: Wrest Park’s grounds reflect three centuries of English garden design, including one of the few remaining early 18th century formal gardens.

People are starting to catch on; the number of visitors to Wrest Park has increased by 12% since 2019, according to English Heritage, with 2021 being its best ever year yet. Respectively, the latest statistics from Trainline shows that train travel to nearby Flitwick station has gone up by 174% this year. So get there quick!

‘Santina’ Shepherd’s Hut with hot tub & open views
Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/

Quirky 18th Century Thatched Cottage
Perry, United Kingdom

www.airbnb.co.uk

THE HIGHLANDS, SCOTLAND

The Highlands of Scotland covers the northern two-thirds of the country and holds much of the mainland’s most spectacular unspoilt scenery. So much so that this redditor was surprised to see that the Lochniver beach they used to visit as a child looks the exact same all these years later.  

The signature combination of mountains, glens, lochs and rivers, surrounded on three sides by a magnificently pitted and rugged coastline, guarantees wonderful moody views. While you’re in the Highlands there try wild camping in the region – as this redditors puts it: ‘it doesn’t get much better than this!’

Fort William is gaining in interest — having seen almost  130% increase in Airbnb searches over the past year.  In line with that, according to Trainline data, Fort William has seen a 146% in  train passengers over the past year. If you’re hoping to recharge make sure to check out the Corrour Estate – this redditor describes it as the perfect spot to disconnect as a solo traveller

 Rosie the Road Workers’ Living Wagon
Roy Bridge, Inverness-Shire


ORKNEY ISLANDS, SCOTLAND

Speaking of Scotland, they also boast a set of stunning and untouched islands.The Orkney islands are a unique and fiercely independent archipelago, and features in the Rough Guides reader survey as the most beautiful places in Scotland. In fact, according to data from Airbnb searches for the Orkney Islands have increased by over 120% in the last year.  

This wild life enthusiast spent an entire week on the islands and was so chuffed they took 1600 pictures – you can take a look at some of their top snaps on Reddit

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For an Orcadian, the Mainland means the largest island in Orkney rather than the rest of Scotland, and their history is inextricably linked with Scandinavia. If you’re into your ancient civilizations this redditor in particular is raring to pay a visit and explore early Christian and late Druidic sites up there. 

Doehouse Cottage, Sandwick, Orkney
Orkney, Scotland

North Walls Kirk
Orkney, Scotland


PEMBROKESHIRE, WALES

‘Who needs holidays abroad when Wales exists?’ exclaims one redditor. The southern zigzag of the Pembrokeshire coast darts west from Tenby (one of the best holiday destinations in the UK according to this redditor) is a strange mix of caravan parks, Ministry of Defence shooting ranges, spectacularly beautiful bays and gull-covered cliffs. Insight from Trainline shows travel to the resort town has shot up by more than 50%. 

From Tenby, the coastal road passes through Penally, with its wonderful beach, and continues past idyllic coves, the lily ponds at Bosherston and the remarkable and ancient St Govan’s Chapel, squeezed into a rock cleft above the crashing waves. 

The ancient town of Pembroke really only warrants a visit to its impressive castle and the fine Bishop’s Palace in neighbouring Lamphey. 

“The Willow”
Pembroke, Pembrokeshire


GOWER PENINSULA, WALES

A fifteen-mile-long finger of undulating sandstone and limestone, Gower (Gŵyr) is a world of its own, pointing into the Bristol Channel to the west of Swansea. The winding lanes afford wonderful opportunities for exploration – in fact, not only will you find the most beautiful beaches in the world here, according to one redditor, but you’ll also find an up and coming to-die-for  gastro scene; with a mix of traditional pubs and modern bars too.

[Airbnb listing in Gower] 

The entire peninsula is fringed by sweeping yellow bays and precipitous cliffs, with caves and blowholes to the south, and wide, flat marshes and cockle beds to the north. Bracken heaths dotted with prehistoric remains and tiny villages lie between, and there are numerous castle ruins and curious churches lurking about. 

Hidden Gem – Cosy, Modern Cottage w/Log fire
Gower, Swansea

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YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND

It’s easy to be glib about Yorkshire – to outsiders it’s the archetypal “up North” with all the clichés that implies, from flat caps to grim factories. For their part, many Yorkshire locals are happy to play up to these prejudices, while nursing a secret conviction that there really is no better place in the world to live.

In some respects, it’s a world apart, its most distinctive characteristics – from the broad dialect to the breathtaking landscapes – derived from a long history of settlement, invention and independence. Make your way to the rural market town of Otley, just north of Leeds; the perfect spot for amazing views, dog friendly walking trails and pubs according to one redditor.

If you find yourself in the south of the county stop by Roche Abbey – a 12th century now-ruined abbey situated in a valley landscaped by renowned gardener and landscape architect, ‘Capability Brown’ in the 18th century. The site has one of the most complete ground plans of any English monastery and the Gothic transepts still remain to their original height. 

One redditor was sizing up the location for an upcoming race, and was pleased he brought his camera along to capture the beautiful site… and they’re not the only ones! The abbey has seen somewhat of a resurgence this past year, reaching its highest levels of popularity since 2005 according to English Heritage. The closest train station is Conisborough, where the number of passengers has grown by 74% since 2021. 

As for Yorkshire’s other boasts (the beer’s better, the air’s cleaner, the people are friendlier) – anyone who spends any time here will find it hard to argue with those.

Robin Hood’s Bay Coastguard’s Cottage with a View
North Yorkshire, England


LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND

The historical county of Lancashire reached industrial prominence in the nineteenth century primarily due to the cotton-mill towns around Manchester and the thriving port of Liverpool.

Today, neither city is part of the county, and Lancashire’s oldest town, and major commercial and administrative centre, is Preston, though tourists are perhaps more inclined to linger in the charming towns and villages of the nearby Ribble Valley.

Along the coast to the west and north of the major cities stretches a line of resorts – from Southport to Morecambe – which once formed the mainstay of the northern British holiday. Only Blackpool is really worth visiting for its own sake, a rip-roaring resort which has stayed at the top of its game by supplying undemanding entertainment with more panache than its neighbours. 

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If you’re after a super non-obvious place these two redditors are gushing over the town of Ormskirk, for being the perfect central location to anywhere in the North West.  Data from Trainline shows that the number of passengers travelling to the town have increased by 127% in the last year.

Charming Garden Pod Couple/family with Hot tub
Forton, England


If you’re looking for more recommendations, travel conversations most frequently take place in the following subreddits: 

… or people  can easily search directly on Reddit. You can try some of these easy-to-use search templates to find the best Reddit travel suggestions:

  • “Yorkshire” and “travel” 
  • “Gower Peninsula” and “holiday”
  • “UK” and “staycation” 
  • “Scotland” and “camping”  
  • “England” and “beach” 
  • “UK” and “solo travel”
  • “Wales” and “trip”
  • “Yorkshire” and “break”
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