Green list update ‘not enough’ to save summer as travel bosses criticise ‘overly cautious’ approach

All of 14 new green list countries, with the exception of Malta, have been put on a ‘watch list’, meaning they risk being moved back to amber

Travel bosses have welcomed the expansion of the green list to include 14 new destinations, but warned the change “fails to go far enough” to allow the industry to recover from the pandemic.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the slight easing of restrictions on foreign holidays on Thursday (24 June) evening, with Spain’s Balearic islands, Malta and several Caribbean islands now among the list of locations from which travellers do not have to self-isolate on their return.

Sign up to our Travel Guide newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below

Travel industry leaders have said the limited opening up of foreign travel is still not sufficient enough (Photo: Getty Images)
Travel industry leaders have said the limited opening up of foreign travel is still not sufficient enough (Photo: Getty Images)

At a glance: 5 key points

- Fourteen new countries and territories will be added to the green list of destinations from 4am on Wednesday (30 June), including the Balearic islands, Madeira, Barbados, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

- All of the new destinations, with the exception of Malta, have also been put on a ‘watch list’, along with Israel and Jerusalem, meaning they are at risk of being moved back onto the amber list.

- Mr Shapps said that people visiting amber list countries who have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine may soon no longer need to quarantine on their return to the UK, with an announcement due next month.

- There are fears of potential new EU-wide restrictions on travellers from the UK over concerns about the spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant just as cases on the continent are coming down.

- Several new countries were also added to the red list, with returning travellers required to stay at a Government-approved quarantine hotel. The affected destinations include the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Kuwait, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda.

What’s been said

The travel and tourism sector welcomed the latest changes, but expressed frustration that the limited opening up of foreign travel is still not sufficient enough to help the industry recover from the pandemic.

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said any extension of the green list “is welcome”, but “this is not not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs”.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, added: “It’s a constructive step that the Government has recognised that Antigua, Barbados and Grenada can be classified as ‘green’ allowing family and friends to finally reunite and enable much needed holidays.

“However, today's (24 June) announcement fails to go far enough.”

Calls have been made for the aviation sector to be given more financial support by the Government to help protect jobs in the industry, with the union Unite saying the furlough scheme should be extended until spring next year as a “minimum”.

Travel bosses have also urged the Government to scrap the current 10-day quarantine rule for travellers returning to the UK from amber list countries, saying those who are now fully vaccinated should no longer have to self-isolate.

Ms Dee urged the Government to publish details of its plans as soon as possible to “save what remains of the summer season”, stating: “While this is not yet the vaccine dividend people in the UK had hoped for, it is welcome that Government intends to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from quarantine.

“In the meantime, the overly cautious approach continues to have major financial impacts for airports.”

Mr Shapps said it was the Government’s intention that such a rule would be introduced “later in the summer”, although there are concerns across the sector that it is already too late to save the summer holidays.

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: “While welcome, these limited movements on green list countries won’t be enough to salvage the summer season for the international travel sector.

“International connectivity extends far beyond tourism and underpins our whole economy.

“The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means we should be in the vanguard of safely restarting international travel.”

The holiday company On the Beach said it would not be taking new bookings for July and August while so much uncertainty remained about countries on the watchlist, while Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French was more optimistic, saying he expected a “bumper weekend” of bookings.

Mr French said the announcement was “fantastic news for our customers who are desperate for a holiday and have been waiting with bated breath for this latest update”.

Background

There are fears that EU-wide restrictions on travellers from the UK may be imposed amid concerns about the spread of the Delta Covid variant, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressing EU leaders to impose stringent quarantine requirements on arrivals.

She told the German parliament on Wednesday (23 June): “We have not yet managed to ensure that all 27 Member States have the same entry requirements for people arriving from virus variant areas, in this case Great Britain, but in other countries also.

“With us you have to be in quarantine when you come from the UK. This is by no means the case in every European country. But I would like that.”

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, warned that travellers need to be “extremely cautious” about booking trips abroad this summer, even to green-list destinations, as restrictions could be changed with minimal warning.

He said: “Countries can be downgraded quickly and with little warning, as we saw with Portugal, while several European countries have introduced quarantine requirements for UK residents.

“Restrictions around international travel are changing regularly and when they do, the cost to holidaymakers is significant.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.