World travel in 2021? It’s not looking great

Holidaymakers hoping to travel in 2021 have been left disheartened by the UK’s recent traffic light announcement.

airbus plane

Boris Johnson and senior ministers announced changes to travel restrictions on Thursday which moved Portugal from the green list down to amber, and multiple other countries into the red.

UK residents currently on holiday in Portugal now need to make the difficult decision to leave the country by Tuesday, or face a 10-day isolation period when they return. 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government had taken a ‘cautious approach’ to changing restrictions, and that the UK may need to ‘act more swiftly’ as new variants emerge and the coronavirus situation changes.

New changes to UK travel restrictions

In case you’re not up to date on the latest changes to the UK’s traffic light system, here’s the moves that will come into action from next week:

  • No new destinations will be added to the green list
  • Portugal will move from the green list to Amber
  • Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago will all move to the red list
man wearing PPE at airport

Holidaymakers visiting Portugal before this week could travel without an isolation period or hotel quarantine, but that’s all set to change. 

From Tuesday, those who wish to take a trip to the country will need to undergo a covid test before travelling, and two tests once home during a 10-day isolation period. Travel to countries on the amber list is not illegal, but strongly discouraged.

Meanwhile, those returning from any of the 50 countries on the UK’s red list will need to go through the same testing regime, and also fork out £1750 per adult to quarantine in a government-designated hotel.

Travel in 2021?

So what will travel in 2021 look like later on in the year? The answer is – we’re not really sure. More than half of all UK adults are now fully vaccinated, but the threat of new variants and those carrying coronavirus unknowingly remain strong. 

Many have told us they’re giving up on world travel this year, and heading off to explore the UK instead. YouTuber Christianne Risman recently told us she has plans to road trip through Scotland while the situation calms down.

UK journalist Natasha Meek, 22, told us she was also staying close to home. She said: “I’m happy to stick to travelling in the UK for now. I’d feel it was too selfish to risk infecting other people, especially those who may not have had the vaccine. Lives are more important”. 

Others told of cancelled holidays abroad which they’d swapped out for trips to the coastal south of England or even the Isle of Wight.

isle of wight

UK government backlash

Conservative MP Henry Smith has a different view. He recently told The Guardian he was ‘very concerned’ that the UK wasn’t being more ambitious over travel, and expressed concern for the jobs of those within the travel industry.

The travel industry itself has also spoken out on the changes to restrictions. Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary recently accused the government of creating policy ‘as they go along’ and claimed that the Portugal move wasn’t actually based on science or public health. RyanAir has since continued its Friday Flash Sales, selling one-way flights to Dublin, Barcelona, Paris, and more for as little as €4.99.

TUI has said half of its customers planning to travel to Portugal in June have rescheduled. The company announced the launch of a joint Tourism Recovery Programme on Wednesday which will work to support 315 tourism businesses in Egypt, Mexico, South Africa and Kenya, despite its half-year revenue falling by nearly €6bn.

TUI aeroplane

The future of travel

There will be just 11 countries left on the UK’s green list when changes are made next Tuesday, June 8.

Many of these, including Australia and New Zealand, are not currently accepting UK visitors and remain largely closed off to the world as a whole. It’s definitely going to be a case of ‘wait and see’ as to whether some of us manage a trip abroad this year.

Reading in a hurry?

  • Portugal has now been removed from the UK’s green list
  • No new destinations to be added to the green list
  • Travel industry hits out at government decisions

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