UK travel update: Experts predict green and red list changes and if they’ll be scrapped


Travel experts share their predictions for the next UK travel update with the Mirror including green, amber and red list changes and the impact if the current system is scrapped

Rear view of young woman traveler with hat sitting and relaxing on viewpoint at similan islands in Andaman sea at Phang Nga province near Phuket and Krabi in southern of Thailand. Summer Relax
Travel experts have shared their predictions for the upcoming review

The UK government is expected to give its next travel update on Thursday, September 16, with changes expected to affect the green, amber and red lists.

Meanwhile, there has also been speculation that the green and amber lists could be scrapped entirely by October 1, although there has been no confirmation of this at the time of writing.

We’ve spoken to various travel experts to pick their brains about everything from which destinations could be affected in the next review, to the impact on British holidaymakers if the current traffic light system is scrapped entirely.

So, what are the changes expected to the green, amber and red lists for Brits?

The good news is that experts aren’t predicting dramatic changes to the current categories. Spain, Greece and Portugal are likely to remain on the amber list as their low Covid case numbers continue continue to fall (this does offer potential for them to go on the green list).

Seamus McCauley at Holiday Extras says: “The main holiday destinations – Spain, Greece, Portugal etc – are stable, the Canaries are seeing significant improvements with Gran Canaria dropping down one alert level and the Azores and Lanzarote have very low Covid levels (so if you want our tip for some safe, reliable last-minute sun, try Lanzarote or the Azores!).

“There’s a band of countries in eastern Europe, from Poland down through Slovakia, Czech, Hungary and Romania with very low Covid levels, which should all go green where they’re not already, and further afield much of Africa and South America should come off the red list if the government simply follows the numbers on Thursday, including tourist favourites Egypt and South Africa .”

Matt Clayden, Travel Expert at Intrigue Travel, says that the firm has “been hearing from other parts of the industry that the Maldives may be added to the amber list along with Turkey ” – a huge help considering the Maldives is the company’s top destination.

Greece and the Greek islands are expected to remain on the amber list



Do you think the current traffic light system should be scrapped? Let us know in the comments below.

Paul Melinis, the Managing Director at river cruise and touring specialist APT, agrees. He predicts: “Looking at case rates over the last week, it looks likely that some of the most popular Mediterranean holiday destinations for Brits, such as Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy , will remain on the amber list, unless Shapps makes a move to end the current traffic light system, which we hope he will.

“For businesses such as ours, where customer certainty is key to securing bookings, having such big revenue-driving destinations remaining in Amber will be an ongoing blow to the industry. I would urge the government to make the right decision and help our sector get back on its feet.”

Generally, most travel experts are in agreement that scrapping the current traffic lights system could be beneficial both for the industry and for holidaymakers.

Benjamin Carey, FTS of Carey Tourism and a former member of the Foreign Office’s Travel Advice Review Group, explains: “Although the UK Government will probably try to maintain the current framework until the next review, it is likely to perform a U-turn soon, as it’s utterly unsustainable.”

Because vaccinated travellers no longer need to self-isolate when returning from amber countries, he says that there is “no practical difference” between the Green and Amber lists for Brits.

Seamus from Holiday Extras agrees, although he says that the “traffic light system is expected to be simplified, though not scrapped altogether”, claiming that the red list proved problematic because when there were significant numbers of tourists in red destinations, there were not enough hotel rooms for the subsequent mandatory quarantine.

So, what would the impact be for Brits if the traffic lights system is abandoned?

Experts are predicting that the current system could be overhauled in the coming weeks


Getty Images/EyeEm)

For Nicky Kelvin, Head of The Points Guy UK, “the reality is this probably wouldn’t have much impact on British travellers”.

He explains that for people who are fully vaccinated, the “traffic light system has effectively already been scrapped” because double jabbed Brits no longer need to self-isolate from amber countries, meaning they are “effectively green”.

Nicky argues that it’s changing testing requirements that would have the biggest direct impact for holidaymakers.

He argues that current PCR test costs are the “most significant barrier currently for international travel”.

However, ” new rules could see the need for a test before returning to the UK dropped, and the day 2 PCR test requirement replaced with a cheaper and more simple antigen or lateral flow test requirement” which could help make travel significantly simpler for Brits.

Matt from Intrigue Travel is anticipating a similar outcome, explaining that the firm “has heard that they may be scrapping the need for the day 2 PCR test if you are double vaccinated”.

Where Brits can go on holiday

Helen Chambers, Head of Travel Insurance at MoneySuperMarket says the firm expects the government to “make more of a drastic change to the traffic light scheme” in part because many companies in the travel industry are still having to use the furlough scheme which is due to end soon.

She explains: “We expect that the ‘amber’ status will be scrapped altogether and if you are double jabbed you will be able to visit any country without a red status and not have to quarantine.”

However, not everyone thinks that scrapping the system is necessarily on the cards at all.

Graham Carter, Group Director of Unforgettable Travel, says: “Although the traffic light system has not been popular, it has limited the number of potentially infected travellers coming to the UK from countries dealing with new Covid strains.

Therefore, I don’t feel that the Government can afford to scrap the traffic light system altogether, especially considering that some countries still struggling to get infection rates under control and a large proportion of the world is still unvaccinated. However, a change that I do expect to see in the near future is the current Covid testing rules for UK travellers being scrapped as these are very costly and mostly only benefit the companies carrying out the tests.”

He does however add that the company is “hoping that the next review delivers a workable solution that allows vaccinated travellers to visit green and amber list countries much more easily”.

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