MILLIONS could enjoy a summer break abroad using ferries as sea bridges to the Continent.
The plan emerged as a top tourism chief urged people to holiday at home this year.
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Meanwhile, a minister wants more folk to go camping or caravanning in Britain this year.
The British Ports Association said a sea bridge scheme could easily link Britain with France, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.
It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps contradicted No 10 by saying air bridges were being considered to low-risk nations to allow exemption from 14-day quarantine.
Port bosses on Tuesday insisted that ferries were ideally suited for social distancing as people could stay in their cars while travelling.
Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the BPA, said: “We have seen speculation of air bridges.
“We see no reason why this could not be rolled out to ferries.”
The fight for a holiday raged as Brits headed to beaches and parks during a mini heatwave.
Wednesday is set to be the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures likely to peak at 82F (28C).
Caravan sites in England hope to open as early as June.
The Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told Sky: “I know there are a lot of campsites that are very keen for people to come.”
However, she warned that it’s a decision for “later this year, potentially July”.
And Visit Britain’s chief wants a “year of domestic tourism”.
Patricia Yates said: “There’s a real job to be done in convincing people it’s socially responsible to travel and enjoy a holiday and that it’s safe.”
But the BPA’s Mr Ballantyne reckoned sea bridges were the answer.
He said: “It is easier to implement safety measures at a port, I would argue.
“If you are in a car going on holiday by ferry you have a greater opportunity to keep your distance.
“You can also allow people out on deck and that sheer space lends itself to social distancing.
“Parts of the maritime sector are on their knees and we need to look at how we can recover safely.
“Passengers are vital so where the risk is low, a recovery in travel and tourism industries should be encouraged to support the continued resilience of critical freight corridors.”
No 10 and the Department of Transport are at loggerheads over plans for a 14-day quarantine.
Ministers have indicated lorry drivers on ferries will be exempt.
Despite Mr Shapps’ announcement to the Commons on Tuesday, No 10 still insisted the idea of exempting some countries was “under consideration” but was “not agreed policy”.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The PM has said that people arriving from overseas will be required to self-isolate in order to prevent a second wave of cases.
“Ultimately we will always be guided by the science and the public’s health will always come first.”
Full details are yet to be published but it is understood rule-breakers may be fined up to £1,000.
Greece is easing restrictions and tourism chief Harry Theoharis said Athens would “welcome reciprocity”.
He said: “If we welcome people from the UK, we would hope the UK would do the same thing.”
Transport committee chairman Huw Merriman said Greece is a “really good example” of where an air bridge would be appropriate as they have the “issue under control”.
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