Top European holiday destinations should be added to green list – travel bosses

The Government has been accused of being too cautious in its approach to allowing international travel.

Airplane stock
Airplane stock

Top holiday spots such as the Greek islands and the Canaries should be added to the quarantine-free green list, it has been suggested, amid criticism the Government has been too cautious in its approach to international travel.

Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are among just 12 destinations which will be on the green list from May 17, with some countries on the list still not accepting holidaymakers.

People returning to England from a green destination will not be required to self-isolate and are only required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

However, critics have hit out at the number of destinations on the list, and have called for the Greek islands, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands to be added.

Coronavirus – Sat Jul 11, 2020
Holidaymakers should be able to visit Spanish islands such as Ibiza, travel bosses say (Tom Pilgrim/PA)

These islands include top tourist destinations such as Mykonos, Ibiza and Tenerife.

EasyJet Holidays CEO Garry Wilson told BBC Breakfast: “The good news is travel is reopening and our customers can look forward to those well-earned breaks in the summer that they’ve been waiting many months for.

“I think the very disappointing news is just the number of countries that are on the list, and if you look at European countries there’s very few, and of those European countries the major holiday destination is Portugal.

“So we did think it was very cautious and it is really not aligning with the approach the Government has taken to open up domestic travel and we don’t think it is backed up by the science or the data.”

He added: “We believe, looking at the science and looking at the data, that places like the Greek islands, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, very popular holiday destinations, actually do meet those criteria and should be on that list.”

Tenerife stock
Mr Wilson said Tenerife meets the ‘criteria’ to be deemed safe to visit (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday that people “should not be travelling” to countries on the amber list, which includes Spain, Italy and France.

Holidaymakers who go against the guidance and travel to an amber destination must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.

Maria Elena Rossi, marketing director of the Italian Tourist Board, said on Saturday morning: “The fact we are on the amber list is a pity because for us the UK market is a very, very important source market.

“Before the pandemic we had more than 12 million overnights coming from the UK but we are very confident the situation might change.”

Ms Rossi added: “Italy is developing several Covid-free zones, especially in islands, which is a policy that has been enforced in other countries.

“We are working together with the UK tourism industry in order to be ready as soon as possible.”

Virgin Atlantic called for the US to be added to the green list, saying the Government has taken an “overly cautious approach”.

A spokesman said: “There is no reason for the US to be absent from the green list.

“This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the UK’s successful vaccination programme.”

Airlines UK, an industry body which represents UK carriers, said the Government must make “major additions” to the green list at the next review point in three weeks.

Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it on to the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.”

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, accused the Government of an “excess of caution”, adding that it is “extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business”.

While Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are planning to welcome UK tourists, the green list also features several remote British Overseas Territories and destinations where visits are heavily restricted, such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands.

Australian finance minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News in Australia on Thursday that the nation’s international borders are not going to reopen “any time soon” because there has been a “clear message” it does not want to risk the spread of infection.

At a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Mr Shapps said the Government must “make absolutely sure” the countries the UK reconnects with are safe.

He said: “We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid. But the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, most notably at the moment in India.”

His announcement prompted a surge in eager holidaymakers booking trips to Portugal, with Thomas Cook reporting that bookings were “through the roof” immediately after the announcement.

Tui UK said Friday was the “best day” for holiday sales this year, 60% of which were to Portugal.

Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the red list, meaning that those returning from those destinations to England after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

The traffic light system will be reviewed every three weeks, and there are four key tests the Government will take into account when deciding how to categorise a country.

These include the percentage of the country’s population to have been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

No plans on international travel have been announced by administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Mr Shapps expects their rules will be “broadly similar” to those for English tourists.

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