Travel news latest: UK ‘won’t hesitate’ to move green list counties to amber or red, PM warns

There are fresh doubts over the future of summer holidays, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns he will have “no hesitation” in moving countries from the green list to amber or red, if necessary “to protect the people of this country.”

Boris Johnson said that while he is “going to try and allow people to travel”, the Government’s “priority is to continue the vaccine rollout”.

His comments come the day before Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce the latest changes to the traffic light system – with hopes that the Canary Islands, Greek Islands and Malta will make the green list.

The Prime Minister, while sympathetic to hopeful holidaymakers, has once again urged for caution when it comes to foreign travel. “We have got to be cautious and we have got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.

“We will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list, to the red list, if we have to do so.”

Countries on the green list currently include Portugal, where the seven-day case rate is 36 per 100,000 population, Iceland (26 per 100,000), Gibraltar (0) and Israel (1 per 100,000) – but, following the PM’s remarks, their place is not guaranteed and restriction-free travel could be revoked in the future. For contrast, the UK’s own case rate is 

Scroll down for more on this, and today’s other top travel stories.

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2:14PM

Turkey to ask UK for holiday restart in time for summer

Leaders of the UK and Turkey will meet this month to discuss the prospects of summer leisure travel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

He is expected to appeal to the Prime Minister to revoke Turkey’s current ‘red list’ status, which prohibits direct flights into England and forces all passengers on non-direct transport to undergo hotel quarantine. 

Erdogan has said the decision to red-list Turkey was politically-motivated, and that he could not reach Johnson when the announcement was made last month. Turkey’s own travel restrictions on Britons are markedly more relaxed, requiring a negative PCR test and passenger locator form.

Turkey, which has administered first vaccine doses to 19 per cent of its population, has already held talks with Germany and Russia to prepare for the summer tourism season, which resulted in ‘positive developments’, reports Reuters.

The country will today enter the next phase of its lockdown easing, with a partial lifting of its weekend lockdowns and daily curfews, and a reopening of restaurants. 

turkey

2:00PM

Record number of British campers

Britons are going wild for the great outdoors, new data reveals. 

A record number of new members joined the Camping and Caravanning Club, the UK’s not-for-profit members organisation that was founded in 1901, in April.

The club’s Michelle Jewell said: “National Camping and Caravan Week is a celebration of the great outdoors and the feeling of freedom to enjoy the simple things around us in nature, and with camping at its heart.

“We’ve seen a big increase in membership and bookings and are looking forward to welcoming campers on to our sites for a much-needed break in our wonderful countryside.”

Motorhome sales have also increased – by more than a third in the last year, according to the National Caravan Council – and campsite bookings in 2021 are up by a whopping 59 per cent compared with previous years.

1:30PM

Poll: Share your plans

The sun is shining, the kids are off school and the heatwave is in full swing. How are you spending the half term? Let us know in our latest Twitter poll.

1:26PM

Blackpool’s vintage trams begin fundraising

A £1million fundraising campaign has been launched to save Blackpool’s vintage trams from ruin.

The resort’s Transport’s Heritage Department is seeking support from locals and visitors to build a new roof on the depot where the iconic trams are stored and to help keep up with the maintenance costs of the fleet of 35 trams.

“Whilst a million pounds is deceptively easy to say, I fully recognise it’s a big ask, but when all’s said and done, it’s a big roof! I have always believed in the incredible power of lots of people working collectively together for a common cause, and a lot of people making a small contribution can have a major impact on the outcome,” said Bryan Lindop, head of heritage at Blackpool Transport.

The trams are an iconic part of the seaside town – particularly during the annual Illuminations – with some of the fleet dating back to 1901.

vintage tram

1:15PM

In focus: The amber list

All eyes are on the green list as we wait to hear which, if any, of our favourite holiday destinations will be deemed safe for travel in Grant Shapps’ next review.

It’s not just the green list that’s set for changes, there’s amber and red to consider too.

What does it mean if a country is classified as amber and can you visit them? We explain everything here.

1:02PM

The key dates of the travel roadmap – and what it means for your holiday

We are expecting an update to the ‘traffic light’ list tomorrow – but don’t expect it to be a momentous one, warns our consumer travel expert  Nick Trend

If you’re holding out for green list news before you book your holiday, you’ll need to get clued up on the likely timings of future updates – which Nick’s handy calendar reveals. 

The key dates for your diary.

12:53PM

Where does the ‘green list’ leave cruise holidays?

This summer, the peaceful Douro could be your best bet for a river cruise

This summer, the peaceful Douro could be your best bet for a river cruise

Credit:
Getty

Sailing options may be limited, but it’s still possible to snare some memorable cruise holidays over the coming months – such as Portugal, Iceland and the Faroes.

Dare to dream, say our cruise experts.

12:41PM

Thailand receives new vaccine doses, ahead of hopeful reopening

Thailand’s ailing vaccination programme has been boosted by the first deliveries of its AstraZeneca drug.

The locally-produced AstraZeneca doses were today delivered to Thailand’s Ministry of Health, AP reports. It is unclear how much of the drug was delivered, but AstraZeneca is set to provide 6 million doses to Thailand in June. A further 10 million doses will follow monthly from July to November, with a final 5 million doses in December. 

As reported earlier (9:57am), the Thai island of Phuket hopes to extend restriction-free travel to Britons next month, as its population nears a 70 per cent vaccination rate. However, vaccination progress on the mainland has been much slower, with just 3.6 per cent nationwide having received their first jab. 

12:22PM

Travellers set up camp outside Queen’s private quarters at Windsor Castle

Up to 30 vans and motorhomes were seen parked outside the monarch’s current residence on Tuesday evening:

Windsor Castle with travellers parked outside


Credit:
Jim Bennett /Kelvin Bruce

Windsor Castle with travellers parked outside

Officials attempted to move the travellers on last night, with pictures showing police, council officials and Windsor Park wardens in discussions with the group. It is understood that the group has since dispersed.

12:08PM

‘Scotland should stop with the hostility – it needs English tourists to survive’

Like many Scottish tourism workers, John MacInnes is eager to see English tourists return

Like many Scottish tourism workers, John MacInnes is eager to see English tourists return

A recent Twitter spat shows that the attitude of some Scots towards English visitors is baffling, shameful and embarrassing, writes Mike MacEacheran:

For us Scots, both the spirit of warm hospitality and reality of our banner-waving internationalism are deeply woven into our national psyche. Any hint of the opposite – watering-down the stereotype of blow-you-away friendliness – is not what anyone wants.

Like all parts of the UK, Scotland and its tourism businesses are crying out for much needed love. Which makes a 
social media debate that flared up this week not only completely baffling, but, frankly, shameful and embarrassing. The inane topic was about not wanting English visitors to cross the border for holidays…

Read the full piece.

11:58AM

Green list? Two likely suspects for quarantine-free travel

Ahead of the traffic light list update that’s expected tomorrow, let’s take a look at the stats of two likely new additions.

Covid cases are rock-bottom in Malta:

Meanwhile, Finland’s vaccination rate is soaring: 

11:20AM

Holiday restart ‘hinges on June 21’ decision

The prospect of restriction-free travel this summer depends entirely on the extent to which lockdown rules are eased on June 21, according to an industry source. 

“Everything hinges on June 21,” the source told trade publication Travel Weekly. “June 21 will dictate what is announced for travel and aviation from June 28. There will be no clarity until we know that decision.”

An update to the UK’s ‘traffic light’ system is expected tomorrow, with reports that Malta, Finland, and some islands – in both the Caribbean and Europe – will be given the green light for quarantine-free travel. However, industry leaders have called for wider easing. 

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren insisted “much of Europe could be opened to safe travel,” because of rising vaccination rates. Meanwhile, “Islands like the Balearics and the Canaries could move to the green list,” argued Tui’s northern region managing director Andrew Flintham.

11:03AM

‘Few tourists’ for green-listed Azores 

For some crowd-free green-list sunshine this summer, the Azores is a very good bet indeed, says Telegraph Travel’s Mark Stratton. The island of Săo Miguel, in the Portuguese archipelago, remains quiet despite its quarantine-free status:

To follow Mark’s whale-watching adventures in the Azores, you’ll find him on Twitter.

10:56AM

Holidaymakers face testing ‘carnage’ this summer

Delays and shortages of Covid-19 tests could create ‘carnage’ for travellers this summer, the travel editor of consumer body Which? has warned.

Speaking to The Times, Rory Boland advised holidaymakers to book tests through their tour operator, and ensure that travel disruption is covered by the company should a test result not be delivered in time for departure:

The best-case scenario is that you’ve booked a package holiday and the test is booked with the tour operator. That way if you don’t get the result back they will allow you to move the departure. But that’s not a given and will be no consolation.

The private testing system is already struggling, it will be carnage when people start travelling again.

10:33AM

Green list review expected tomorrow

Holidays overseas are now allowed to a select group of ‘green-listed’ countries after restrictions for overseas travel were eased last month – and we are expecting the Transport Secretary to update the list tomorrow

But which destinations might be given the green light – and will any have their status revoked?

We take a look at the numbers.

10:13AM

Why Peru has the world’s highest Covid death rate

A Quechua woman has her temperature taken while waiting to vote in the general elections in April

A Quechua woman has her temperature taken while waiting to vote in the general elections in April

Credit:
Getty

Based on population, Peru’s per capita rate now more than doubles that of Brazil, the country with the highest death toll, reports Simeon Tegel:

Peru’s official Covid-19 death toll more than doubled this week after the government admitted it had been using a faulty methodology, making it the country with the highest Covid-19 mortality per capita in the world.

The figure jumped from just over 68,000 to 180,764 following pressure from public health experts to revisit the data.   

The startling number is the result of a cocktail of government errors and pre-existing problems, including poverty and a severely underfunded healthcare system in the country of 33 million. 

Read the full story. 

9:57AM

Phuket to open to vaccinated Britons from July 1

A Phuket sports stadium has been turned into a vaccine hub

A Phuket sports stadium has been commandeered as a vaccine hub

Credit:
Getty

The Thai island of Phuket is set to reopen to international tourists from July 1, with direct flights set to recommence from London via British Airways (3 per day) and Thai Airways (1 per week).

Visa rules and testing requirements will stay in place, but the current madnatory 14-day quarantine will be dropped. The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ scheme is dependent on the local vaccine rollout reaching 70 per cent of the population. To date, 50 per cent of the islanders have received their first doses.

By contrast, just 3.6 per cent of Thailand’s wider population have had their first vaccine. 

If the scheme is successful, it will be expanded to nine other Thailand tourist destinations: Krabi; Phang-nga; Koh Samui; Pattaya; Bangkok; Buriram; Cha-am; and Hua Hin.

“There will be a ‘standard of practice’ for each of these places, but there will be some variations depending on their geography,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “Above all we have to prioritize the safety and health of the public to prevent further outbreaks.”

9:28AM

School holiday dates could be shaken up, Education Secretary hints

Gavin Williamson has signalled that school holiday periods could be shaken up, in a bid to get the education system back on track post-Covid. 

“We wouldn’t be looking at taking an amount of time away from holidays, but we have been looking at the structure of the school year,” the Education Secretary told Sky News.

“At the moment that’s not something we are progressing – our key focus is how the structure of the day best serves students.” He added that the Department for Education was “very much looking at what else is needed”.

9:21AM

Tunisia ends quarantine and testing for vaccinated travellers

Tunisian police on a quad bike patrol a beach in Tunisia's Sousse resort on May 22

Tunisian police on a quad bike patrol a beach in Tunisia’s Sousse resort on May 22

Credit:
Getty

Tunisia has relaxed its entry requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers, and those who have recovered from Covid-19. Eligible visitors will no longer have to quarantine for 7 days on arrival in the country, or take a test before they visit. 

Restrictions have also been relaxed for travellers on an organised tour, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or have Covid antibodies. They must still take a PCR test, but are able to travel freely – as long as they remain in their group, and use private transport and accommodation.

All non-exempt travellers aged over 12 must present a negative PCR test, taken 72 hours before their arrival in Tunisia, and self-isolate for seven days.

8:55AM

Airports’ Covid e-gates will be ready by end of June

Covid e-gates for holidaymakers are on course to be ready by the end of June at Britain’s major airports, as Border Force accelerates plans to cope with a potential surge in foreign travel.

Work to update the e-gates at the four major airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham is expected to be largely finished by June 28.

The move suggests the Government aims to be ready for an expansion of foreign holidays in July that could otherwise be thwarted by lengthy queues due to Border Force officers having to conduct manual checks of all arrivals’ passports and passenger locator forms (PLFs).

Charles Hymas has the full story.

8:47AM

Tuesday’s headlines 

Before we begin, a quick catchup on yesterday’s travel news:

  • Heathrow opens terminal for red-list passengers
  • France restricts travel from UK to combat Indian variant spread  
  • More countries to be added to red list amid concerns over Covid variant spread 
  • Ryanair calls on Grant Shapps to open UK to entire EU
  • Islands of Guernsey to drop testing and self-isolation for visiting Britons
  • Cyprus could be green-listed this month, says its deputy tourism minister 

Now, on with today’s stories. 

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