Travel: Green list summer holidays could resume May 17th
- Jet2 flights cancelled until June amid increased foreign travel uncertainty
- UK government set to lift coronavirus travel restrictions on May 17th
- UK’s “green watchlist” could include Spain, Malta, and the Caribbean
- Expedia launches tool that allows holidaymakers to check COVID-19 travel restrictions
The Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) unveiled its new framework for the safe resumption of foreign travel on Friday, and their guidance suggests that overseas holidays can go ahead from May 17th.
Recommendations included a new and highly-anticipated traffic light system, “green watchlist”, and COVID-19 travel certification, which would allow border authorities to verify whether travellers have been tested or vaccinated against the virus.
The news has been welcomed by travel-hungry Brits craving a holiday this summer after spending months under lockdown rules.
While the UK government is yet to confirm the issuing of COVID-19 passports, it remains a possibility given that earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated that he “has not given up on allowing Britons to jet abroad this summer.”
However, the British government approved the new traffic light system, which will rank countries as “green”, “amber”, or “red” based on their relative COVID-19 data to ensure international travel can resume safely.
Traffic light system introduced for international travel
We do not yet know which countries will be classified as “green”, “amber”, or “red”, but experts have shared insight into how the British government may categorise nations.
Head of The Points Guy UK Nicky Kelvin said: “While much remains uncertain, using past evidence, we can predict which destinations might be the safest for Britons this summer.”
Mr Kelvin believes that nations that have vaccinated a significant proportion of their population or have progressive vaccine rollouts, such as the US, Israel, Chile and the United Arab Emirates, could make the UK’s green list.
Nicky Kelvin also expects Caribbean nations and countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia, Malta, and even Spain to be added to the new green list.
However, “looking at the COVID-19 situation in countries such as South Africa and some southern American countries could remain on the “red list”, says Mr Kelvin.
That said, the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice warns against all but essential travel, especially to European holiday hotspots.
Following the FCDO’s assessment on the current COVID-19 risks in France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal, it advises against non-essential trips to these destinations. Nonetheless, that’s not to say Britons won’t be able to jet off to these destinations once coronavirus restrictions are lifted – but there may be consequences.
Currently, passengers arriving in the UK from “red list” destinations are required to quarantine in government-designated hotels at the cost of GBP 1,750. Whether this changes after May 17th remains unknown as the UK government failed to clarify these arrangements.
Several airlines, including Jet2, were also disappointed with the new framework on international travel and criticised the British government over the lack of clarity and detail. As a result, the airline stated that it is cancelling all Jet2 flights and holidays until at least June 24th.
Jet2 cancels flights days after announcing new Europe routes
Jet2.com has cancelled flights and holidays following the release of the GTT’s framework, arguing that the guidance offered is virtually the same as it was six months ago.
The tour operator had been preparing to relaunch flights and holidays from May 17th but axed plans as the future of foreign travel remains broadly uncertain.
Jet2 CEO, Steve Heapy, commented: “We have taken time to study the Global Travel Taskforce’s framework, and as we still do not know when we can start to fly, where we can fly to, and the availability and cost of testing we have extended our flight suspension.”
Mr Heapy added: “Rather than answering the industry’s burning questions, the recommendations made by the GTT leaves everyone asking more.”
The move comes a mere two days after the British low-cost leisure airline announced new Europe routes.
TUi, which has added 100,000 holidays to its service for 2022, was also left disappointed by the new foreign travel plan.
TUi announced 100,000 new summer holiday destinations
Anglo-German tourism giant TUi has added thousands of holidays to its service for 2022 after witnessing a 120% increase in holiday bookings for next year.
According to TUi, the most sought-after month is May, with family holidays being the most popular type of trip.
Given that the UK government is yet to decide on whether holidays abroad will go ahead from May 17th, it seems that holidaymakers are making bookings for next year instead to avoid having holidays cancelled or postponed.
Families also appear to be taking advantage of early booking deals and zero deposit offers that tourism companies and airlines are currently offering.
The increase in holiday bookings comes to the delight of TUi, which has been devastated by the pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions.
The Anglo-German tourism company recently announced that it would raise EUR 400m (GBP 348) by selling convertible bonds to strengthen its financial position as the pandemic drags on.
Even as holiday bookings for the company surge, TUi cut its capacity for peak summer months to 75% of 2019 for this year, expecting ongoing uncertainty to weigh on demand in 2021.
However, the firm is confident that activity will return to pre-pandemic levels over the next couple of years. The CEO of TUi said that the company would redeem bonds in April 2028.
Britons considering jetting off for the summer holidays have also been warned of delays of up to 10 weeks for passport renewals.
Passport applications delays of up to 10 weeks
Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) has urged Brits to renew passports as soon as possible as they expect the lack of travel during 2020 has created a backlog of applications.
Typically, the HMPO receives 7 million passport applications a year, but unsurprisingly, there were only 4 million applicants last year.
However, following the announcement of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown easing roadmap and signs that COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths are declining in the country, the agency expects a significant spike in applications for 2021.
With waits of up to 10 weeks being estimated, the HMPO is urging Britons eager to get away to renew passports now.
If my passport isn’t returned in time for my trip, will I be refunded?
Unfortunately, HPMO will not reimburse your holiday if they fail to return your passport in time for your break. It is also not covered on insurance policies.
How do I know if my passport is valid for travel?
Most of us will need at least six months validity from the expiry date on our passport (which can be found on the page featuring your photograph) to be allowed entry into another country.
As the UK is no longer a part of the European Union, you will also need six-month validity to travel to the EU and the Schengen Area in 2021 and beyond.
If you’re still struggling to find out if your passport is valid, go online and use the British government’s passport checker tool.
Can I use my burgundy EU passport when travelling even though the UK is now a sovereign state?
Yes – your burgundy passport will remain valid until the expiry date, but again, you will need at least six months validity from the expiry date to pass border control.
Can I check which countries have coronavirus travel restrictions?
Apart from using the UK government website to check which countries you can travel to; the Expedia Group has also launched a tool to help holidaymakers plan trips and identify which nations have restrictions in place.
According to Expedia, by inputting your departure, arrival airports and travel dates into their new tool, it will advise you on what COVID-19 restrictions are in place, quarantine and testing rules and the mask policy in your destination country.