British tourists going on holiday to Portugal cheer as EasyJet plane doors close

Scenes of jubilation aboard an EasyJet plane travelling from Gatwick to Faro

Words by Foreign Affairs Producer Natalie Wright

After the 'will they won’t they’ of last week, the Portuguese government finally announced on Friday that it would welcome British tourists from one minute past midnight this Monday morning.

And so, we find ourselves on board the 9.35am EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Faro, to speak to the very first international holidaymakers from England in many months.

The flight is almost full, no hangover here from the indecision of the past days - and those who have decided to flee to the warmer climes of the Algarve are, on the whole, very excited.

In fact, as the captain announces the closing of the doors, a raucous 'woop’ erupts on board.

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One holidaymaker Debbie Murray is heading out to Portugal with nine friends for her first holiday in two years and says she can’t wait to get there to "party, party, party!"

Hangovers of a different kind may be somewhat delayed too as the pubs and bars in the Gatwick departure hall remain closed. A reminder that not all is back to normal.

There is still a touch of trepidation. Most people have not travelled for many months now.

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Everybody on board is brandishing a negative Covid PCR test certificate and a Portuguese passenger locator form - just part of the increased bureaucracy involved in holidaying 2021.

It is not just those heading for the beaches who are smiling behind their masks, for airline staff it has also been the strangest of times.

Cabin Manager Laura Daly was over the moon to be transporting Brits on their holidays once more.

We touch down in Faro to join the gaggle of freshly landed aircraft.

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Within the space of just over an hour, there have been six other flights arriving here from English airports, including Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted.

Just some of the 5,500 British passengers expected in the region on Monday.

Unlike our flight, the road ahead is sure to be a bumpy one for British tourists, but many will be watching with great interest as people finally start travelling for leisure once more.

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