United Kingdom

Google searches for Portugal soar 3,000 per cent after green list announcement

Google searches for 'holidays to Portugal' soared more than 3,000 per cent in the hour after the Government named it as one of the countries that will be on its 'green' safe travel list from May 17.  

On Friday, the Department for Transport revealed at a Downing Street briefing that travellers will be able to visit 12 destinations - including Portugal - from May 17 without having to self-isolate on return to England.

Speaking soon after the briefing, the boss of a travel firm analysing Google data said that searches for 'holidays to Portugal' had 'skyrocketed' by 3,233 per cent compared to ten minutes before Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' announcement. 

Searches for Israel and Gibraltar - which are also on the green list - were up by 1,329 per cent and 488 per cent, the Sun reported.   

However, travel bosses demanded that more countries be put on the quarantine-free list as they criticised the 'overly cautious' ministers for only approving 12 destinations so far.     

Of the nations and territories on the list, only the above three, as well as Iceland, are allowing Britons in without the need to quarantine.    

People returning to England from a green destination from May 17 will not be required to self-isolate and are only required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

The green list also features several remote British Overseas Territories and destinations where visits are heavily restricted, such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands.

Virgin Atlantic called for the US to be added to the green list, saying the Government has taken an 'overly cautious approach'.

EasyJet boss John Lundgren said the decision to put so few European countries on the list was 'simply not justified by the data or science'. 

Piling in on the chorus of criticism, industry body Airlines UK said the Government had to make 'major additions' to the green list at the next review point in three weeks. 

As the reaction to the green list announcement continued, it emerged: 

Travel bosses have demanded more countries be put on the quarantine-free green travel list as they criticised 'overly cautious' ministers for only approving 12 destinations so far

Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are among the small group of countries which will be on the green list from May 17 - with some countries on the list still not accepting holidaymakers. Pictured: Tourists sunbathing in Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Faro district, Algarve, Portugal

Unveiling, the search figures, Gary Piazzon, founder of portertravel.co.uk, told the Sun: 'Data reveals that in the last hour, Google searches for "Holidays to Portugal" have skyrocketed, up 3,233 per cent when compared with ten minutes before the Transport Secretary's announcement.'

Mr Piazzon, who also revealed the figures for Israel and Gibraltar, added: 'I agree with Grant Shapps in that travellers are crucial to rebuilding the UK economy and I really hope this is the all-important light at the end of the tunnel we've been waiting for,' he added.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said of the quarantine-free list: 'There is no reason for the US to be absent from the green list.

'This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the UK's successful vaccination programme.'

The spokesman added: 'While transatlantic links with the US, our largest trading partner, are restricted, £23 million in economic value is lost each day, which is why a transatlantic travel corridor is vital to deliver a much-needed boost to economic recovery.'

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said: 'The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy.

'So, we call on Government to provide transparency on decision-making and clarity on when we can expect other European countries to join the green list so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer.'

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: 'This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it on to the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.

The countries on the 'green list' from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel

'By contrast, the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions, which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up international travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States.'

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, accused the Government of an 'excess of caution', adding that it is 'extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business'.

'Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe, including Spain, France and Greece, are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerned, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return,' he said.

Mr Strutton added: 'Tourists are sat gazing at the amber light, revving their engines, desperate to travel safe in the knowledge that their jabs will protect them. The Government must flick those amber lights to green as soon as it possibly can.' 

Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual as the country switches to a traffic light system for international travel

Grant Shapps unveiled his long-awaited 'green list' at a Downing Street briefing last night, insisting we must make 'absolutely sure' that the countries we reconnect with are 'safe'

The countries on the 'green list' from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel.

But two of those countries, Australia and New Zealand, will not currently allow British visitors to enter.

At a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Mr Shapps said the Government must 'make absolutely sure' the countries the UK reconnects with are safe.

He said: 'We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid. But the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, most notably at the moment in India.'

Couples separated by border closures feel 'completely forgotten' by Government's green list 

Couples separated by border closures said they feel 'completely forgotten' by the UK government's green list for travel.

The newly announced list will allow people to travel to countries including Portugal and Gibraltar from May 17 without needing to self isolate on their return to England.

However, couples with partners who do not live in qualifying countries face expensive quarantine requirements, or an even longer wait to see each other.

Alyssa Pallotti, from Texas, has been separated from her partner, Jacob Greenwood, who lives in Bracknell, Berkshire.

Couples separated by border closures said they feel 'completely forgotten' by the UK government's green list for travel. Alyssa Pallotti (right), from Texas, has been separated from her partner, Jacob Greenwood (left), who lives in Bracknell, Berkshire

She said: 'I've heard the UK government talking about holidays, holidays, holidays when it comes to this green list, and we feel very forgotten.

'We are actually classed as leisure travel - like seeing your partner is not considered essential. In the US or UK, it is considered a luxury.'

Ms Pallotti said she feels 'very lucky' she has been able to travel to the UK a couple of times since August last year, balancing working her job remotely, but quarantining each time has cost her thousands of dollars.

In March, she spent two weeks quarantining so she could spend four days with her partner over Easter, before flying back to America.

'It's very draining for me because it is just all on me to go over there because he is not allowed to come to the US,' she said.

She said Mr Greenwood would be able to enter the US if they were married: 'But we don't want to be forced to get married just because that is what the government says.'

Garrett Leibovitz, 21, said he feels 'completely depressed' at not having seen his fiancee, Vanessa Torres Gonzales, 24, for the last 15 months

Love Is Not Tourism, a campaign fighting to reunite families who have been separated by travel bans and border closures, connected Ms Pallotti with other people in her situation.

She said: 'There was a rumour this morning that the UK would be lifting the ban, and that was probably the most hopeful I have seen everyone.

'But now we all just feel very upset and very deflated.'

Garrett Leibovitz, 21, said he feels 'completely depressed' at not having seen his fiancee, Vanessa Torres Gonzales, 24, for the last 15 months.

Ms Gonzales, who is Italian and currently living in London, plans to move to the US once her visa is approved, a process that has been delayed due to the pandemic.

Mr Leibovitz, from Kansas in the United States, told PA the 'hardest thing' was not having a date to be able to plan around.

He said: 'People on Twitter, act like we are selfish for wanting to travel. But it has been 15 months, and multiple countries have made exemptions for couples, and I don't see why the UK and US can't do that either.

'It's not about holidays, it is about reconnecting families.'

His announcement prompted a surge in eager holidaymakers booking trips to Portugal, with Thomas Cook reporting that bookings were 'through the roof' immediately after the announcement.

Meanwhile, Mr Shapps said people 'should not be travelling' to countries on the amber list, which includes holiday hotspots Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

Holidaymakers who go against the guidance and travel to an amber destination must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.

British Airways boss Sean Doyle said this advice is 'disappointing', adding: 'We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to restart the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.'

Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the red list, meaning that those returning from those destinations to England after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

The decision on Turkey means Manchester City and Chelsea supporters 'should not travel' to the Champions League final in Istanbul later this month, Mr Shapps said.

The traffic light system will be reviewed every three weeks, and there are four key tests the Government will take into account when deciding how to categorise a country.

These include the percentage of the country's population to have been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern and the country's access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

No plans on international travel have been announced by administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Mr Shapps expects their rules will be 'broadly similar' to those for English tourists. 

Despite the criticism from the travel industry, a public health expert on Saturday supported the Government's cautious approach.

Speaking to Times Radio, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh said: 'We've had more cases of Covid-19 last week globally than we've had at any point of the pandemic.

'I know people are disappointed that they can't go to France or Spain, but at the moment if I could point to one area that I'd be most anxious about it would be variants and importation of infection.

'I think that's the territory we have to be most cautious and move most slowly.'   

Tui, the UK's largest holiday company, spoke of seeing a rise in customer demand in the wake of the green list announcement, particularly for trips to Portugal.

A spokeswoman said: 'We've had the best day of sales for summer 2021 holidays since the initial road map announcement in February.

'Sixty per cent of all holidays sold yesterday were to Portugal.'

The firm said new flights and extra holidays have been added for people who want to 'get away as quickly as possible'. 

Hays Travel, the UK's largest independent travel agent, said the earlier speculation around the announcement prompted its 'busiest' week since the pandemic began.

Dame Irene Hays, chair of Hays Travel, said: 'This week, Hays Travel branches all over the UK have been at their busiest since the pandemic began, helping our customers to book a holiday for when and where it's safe to do so.

'More customers are now booking for this year to make sure they don't miss out on choice or price.'

She added: 'And they are choosing to spend a little more, treating themselves to better destinations or accommodation, or finally booking that bucket list dream holiday.'

But other smaller firms labelled the green list announcement a 'damp squib', saying there are not enough destinations to spark a real surge in bookings.

Mark Pollard, managing director of Tony Sheldon Travel in Maidenhead, said: 'One of the problems with this list is it's very limiting, the only major tourist destination is Portugal, this is all too little and too early to say.

'It's a damp squib announcement, there isn't enough there to prompt the kind of interest the industry is desperate for.

'I think it's more of a tick box announcement to just give us some destinations and keep us all happy.'

Mr Pollard added: 'I really don't think this will make a huge difference until more of the top European holiday destinations are added on to the list - but again, it's too early to tell at the moment.'

Border Force director Paul Lincoln said at a Downing Street press conference yesterday that passengers must accept there will be increased delays at 'each stage' of their journey, with staff required to check '100 per cent' of all travellers coming through.  

Mr Lincoln said the introduction of health checks at the border meant it now takes, on average, five to 10 minutes for staff to process each passenger arriving into the UK.

He said: 'For the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey.

'It currently takes a Border Force officer five to 10 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, it might take 14 or 15 times longer to process than before, compared to around 25 seconds.

'Where people do not have the correct paperwork, it can and has taken considerably longer, including when we need to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.' 

Mr Lincoln said Border Force was still under instruction from ministers to check '100% of passengers' but that it would be making some paperwork digital, such as the passenger locator form, in a bid to 'speed up' the process, while more staff would be made available to carry out checks.

Heathrow Airport's chief executive said the Government must 'urgently address the unacceptable situation' at the UK border.

John Holland-Kaye said in a statement: 'Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.' 

Those planning getaways to Faro on the Algarve from May 17 will pay inflated prices, as airlines tend to increase  the cost of tickets in line with demand.

A British Airways flight from Heathrow to the popular holiday hotspot costs £448 on May 17 compared with £237 two days earlier.   

Another flight from Stansted to Lisbon costs £262 on May 19, more than double the price of £128 on May 14. 

Thomas Cook said that bookings were already up 250 per cent on last week, with more demand expected into the evening.

Comparing the whole of Friday to the whole of April 30, Thomas Cook said web traffic was 85 per cent higher.

Frustrated social media users have taken to Twitter to vent their fury after noticing the dramatic price jumps, with others boasting that they had the foresight to book their breaks before yesterday's announcement. 

One user said: 'So glad I booked my Portugal holiday before it got the green light because flights have gone from £120 to £500.'

Another added: 'Just waiting now for the complaints that flights to Portugal etc from the UK shouldn't be £300 to £450 per person.'

Ryanair said yesterday it will add an additional 175,000 seats to the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto following the announcement, with British Airways also laying on additional flights.     

Britons were warned that fares were set to double minutes after Mr Shapps's announcement, with Booking.com's chief executive Glenn Fogel saying holiday prices 'are already going up.'

He said: 'There's so much pent-up demand. Everybody wants to go travelling, but we all want to do it safely.'  

David Child, head of PR and brand at Thomas Cook, later confirmed bookings for Portugal were 'through the roof' immediately after the announcement as people had been 'poised, ready and waiting to go'. 

A Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Porto will set holidaymakers back £232.99 on 17 May, but would have cost a mere £14.99 if they were able to travel a day earlier

Carvoeiro village in Algarve, Portugal. Eager British holidaymakers rushed to book last minute getaways after the handful of quarantine-free destinations were unveiled by Grant Shapps at a Downing Street briefing last night

'We took in the first hour from 5pm to 6pm as many Portugal bookings as we took in the whole month of April,' he said. 

But Mr Child cautioned that 'absolute numbers' of bookings were 'small', saying the firm was going from 'low numbers of bookings to modest numbers of bookings'.

'Yes, it's a surge absolutely, but the market is still down on where it would normally be this time in the year,' he said.

He said that while prices of flights may increase, those on package holidays may find their money goes further in terms of accommodation.

Mr Child said hoteliers were 'not raising their prices yet' as they still had many rooms to fill. 

Hundreds of Britons rushed to book last minute breaks after a handful of quarantine-free destinations were unveiled by Grant Shapps at a Downing Street briefing

The Transport Secretary today revealed Britain's green. amber and red lists as England prepared for international travel

Ahead of the Government's announcement, demand for flights to Portugal had already driven up prices as holidaymakers anticipated its green categorisation  

Similar leaps in prices were seen in the cost of flights to other 'green list' destinations, with a trip to Gibraltar jumping from £49 at 12pm today to £134 at 6pm, according to Skyscanner.net. 

And the price of a flight to Tel Aviv in Israel, £252 at 12pm today, rose by £38 after Mr Shapps' announcement, to £290. 

The cost of flights to Singapore also jumped in price between May 15 and May 17, with Britons able to fly via London for £278 compared with £389. 

Daily bookings on Skyscanner in the UK for travel to Portugal have increased by 118 per cent since the start of May, a spokesman for the website revealed.   

Martin Nolan, a Skyscanner Traveller expert, said: 'This is such welcome news for our travellers who have been eager to get back out into the world. It is fantastic to see the advances destinations have made regarding traveller safety have enabled popular destinations such as Portugal and Gibraltar to be back on the agenda for summer.

'Travellers will of course be delighted with the news of possible international travel, not just for holidays and leisure travel, but also for those who will now be able to travel to be reunited with loved ones abroad. 

'We have seen travellers willing to adapt to the new measures quickly and positively, as long as it means they can get away safely and within the guidelines, so we expect to see a busy weekend of bookings ahead.'

The British Overseas Territory, close to the south coast of Spain, became the first nation to fully vaccinate its entire adult population in March

Chief minister Fabian Picardo said the Rock will offer a 'great British staycation in the Mediterranean' after travel restrictions are eased in Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown

All the countries on the UK's first green list have similarly low Covid infection rates, meaning the risk of travellers carrying cases between nations is low

British Airways said it would be laying on additional flights to Portugal following the announcement foreign travel can resume to some destinations later this month, but added it was disappointed with restrictions for amber countries.

Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said: 'We're pleased that our customers are able to start travelling again to some countries, including Portugal, and we've put on additional flights from London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh to Faro to help people get moving.

'What's clear is that with high levels of vaccination in the UK being matched by other countries, we should see more destinations going 'green' before the end of June.

WILL THE GREEN LIST COUNTRIES ACTUALLY LET US IN? 

These are the current entry requirements for countries that will be on the UK's green list from May 17. They may change before Britain permits foreign travel.

Portugal – Closed except to residents and essential travel, but tourism chief Rita Marques said: 'We are really pushing hard to open up to countries like the UK.'

Australia – Closed except to visa holders and residents/citizens, and government appears unwilling to reopen the borders.

New Zealand – Closed except to visa holders and residents/citizens, or people with a 'critical purpose to travel'. Country was keen to shut borders and is not likely to encourage or allow tourism any time soon.

Israel/Jerusalem – Foreign nationals not permitted unless in exceptional circumstances, but plans in place to allow vaccinated people and recovered Covid patients to visit.

Gibraltar – Travel only allowed for residents, citizens or people going for work, but is expected to open the doors to tourists soon.

Singapore – Visitors must get prior government permission to travel. Tourists are allowed from Hong Kong, signalling possible reopening.

Brunei – 'Severely restricted'. Travellers must apply for permission from Prime Minister's office and exit travel is banned.

Iceland – Travel is allowed from low risk countries. Covid testing and quarantine in place except for fully vaccinated people.

Faroe Islands – Denmark allows UK visitors 'with a worthy purpose'. Holidaying not included

Falkland Islands – Permits only allowed for essential visitors. Tourism board is pushing for a reopening but the government is not yet keen.

South Georgia – Rules unclear. It is a remote destination in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Antarctica, with no roads and no airport.

St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha – All arrivals must quarantine for 2 weeks. Only residents are allowed to travel to Tristan da Cunha.

Source: Foreign Office 

'It's disappointing to hear that despite the stringent safeguards introduced for travel from 'amber list' countries, the Government is now suggesting travellers avoid these.

'We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to restart the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.'

While Britons are clear to travel to green list countries, amber destinations still require up to 10 days self isolation at home and red destinations require 10 days of isolation in a Government approved hotel at a cost of £1,750. 

Buy now pay later travel agency Butter found green tier destinations cost 35 per cent more than their red and amber counterparts.  

Timothy Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of Butter, said: 'Holidaymakers will now be climbing over each other to book a trip away to a green tier destination this summer, having not been able to take a proper holiday in quite some time.'       

Mr Shapps warned that 'green list' destinations will remain on a 'watch list' as he reserved the right to take them off again if there is a spike in local infections. 

He added the plan was 'necessarily cautious', saying: 'We must make sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe.'  

There was a blow for football fans as Turkey was added to the red list just weeks before Manchester City and Chelsea battle out he Champions League final in Istanbul.

The Maldives and Nepal have also been added to the red list. 

People returning from those countries after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

Mr Shapps confirmed that France, Spain and Greece, three top holiday destinations for Britons, were not yet ready to make the 'green list' on the new traffic light system that is being introduced. 

He added that travellers were 'crucial' to rebuilding the UK's economy following months in lockdown.

 'We want a summer in which, with the help of vaccines and testing, we can reunite family and friends, and travel to places we love,' he said. 'We want to start looking outward again. Whilst Covid has isolated us, travel unites us.'

He added: 'Travellers are, of course, also absolutely crucial to rebuilding our economy, bringing long-awaited relief to hard-hit airlines, airports, the tourism sector, which taxpayers have spent £7 billion in supporting.'

The DfT also announced that from May 17, people who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to use the NHS app to demonstrate their status.

People who do not have the app will be able to request an NHS letter from that date.

Mr Shapps said travellers should not book holidays that do not include a refund policy if the country's Covid situation changes.

WHERE CAN I GO ON HOLIDAY FROM MAY 17? THE GREEN LIST 

Britons will be able to travel quarantine-free to 12 countries and territories from May 17. 

They are:

Mr Shapps confirmed that France, Spain and Greece, three top holiday destinations for Britons, were not yet ready to make the 'green list' on the new traffic light system that is being introduced

Gibraltar, the British territory in the western Mediterranean, was on the green list 

The Transport Secretary said: 'Green list countries will be placed on a watch list. If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status.'

He added: 'Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you're able to cancel. I'm afraid we do expect longer delays at airports.' 

Mr Lincoln added yesterday: 'Unfortunately we are not back to normality yet. Travel will be different and, as the Transport Secretary says, we still need to be cautious.

'There will continue to be additional health checks for every person crossing our border and inevitably that means it will take longer for most people to enter the UK.

'These measures have been put in place to protect the hard-fought gains and sacrifices that have been made by individuals and society in the UK, minimising the risk of importing variants while protecting the success of our vaccine rollout.' 

Heathrow Airport's chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the Government must 'urgently address the unacceptable situation' at the UK border, adding: 'Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.'

Despite the significant move forward in reopening the travel sector today, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said many would be 'hugely disappointed' that the US and other nations are not on the Government's travel 'green list'.

President and CEO Gloria Guevera said: 'We welcome this first initial step by the UK Government to begin opening the door to international travel with the announcement of today's 'traffic light' system.

'However, airlines and the wider travel and tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the US, which has a similar vaccination success rate, has not been included on the 'green list' as it would have enabled the resumption of transatlantic travel, which would have thrown a vital lifeline to the sector in two of the biggest travel and tourism markets in the world.'

She added: 'While we understand that protecting public health should be the priority, the UK is being too cautious and risks losing its hard-won competitive advantage achieved by the early vaccine rollout by being too slow to allow the significant resumption of international travel.

'Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by today's news, with so few countries on the 'green list', while Europe steals a march on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back.' 

British holidaymakers will also be able to head to New Zealand (above, Tongariro Alpine Crossing National Park). Although the country's borders are currently closed

Iceland is also on the 'green list', with tourist attractions including Reykjavík and Siglufjordur (above)

Tristan da Cunha, a remote group of volcanic islands in the south Atlantic Ocean, is also available for summer holidays

Travellers should expect longer waiting times at UK borders when 'green list' starts on May 17 

Travellers should expect longer waiting times at UK borders as the Government switches to a traffic light system for international travel.

Border Force director Paul Lincoln said passengers must accept there will be increased delays at 'each stage' of their journey, with staff required to check '100%' of all travellers coming through.

From May 17, people in England will be able to visit those destinations without having to enter quarantine on their return.

But Mr Lincoln told a Downing Street press conference on Friday that the introduction of health checks at the border meant it now takes, on average, five to 10 minutes for staff to process each passenger arriving into the UK.

He said: 'For the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey.

'It currently takes a Border Force officer five to 10 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, it might take 14 or 15 times longer to process than before, compared to around 25 seconds.

'Where people do not have the correct paperwork, it can and has taken considerably longer, including when we need to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.'

Mr Lincoln said Border Force was still under instruction from ministers to check '100% of passengers' but that it would be making some paperwork digital, such as the passenger locator form, in a bid to 'speed up' the process, while more staff would be made available to carry out checks.

Heathrow Airport's chief executive said the Government must 'urgently address the unacceptable situation' at the UK border.

John Holland-Kaye said in a statement: 'Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.'

'Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe including Spain, France and Greece are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerns, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return.

'The Government has at least committed to review the categories regularly.

'Tourists are sat gazing at the amber light, revving their engines, desperate to travel safe in the knowledge that their jabs will protect them. The Government must flick those amber lights to green as soon as it possibly can.

'In particular, we must see the vital UK-US travel market open up which remains inexplicably closed despite America's own tremendous vaccine success.' 

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation ABTA, said: 'Although it was good to hear the minister (Grant Shapps) say he wants people to be able to travel this summer, this is a slower and more cautious approach than previously outlined by the Government and will delay the industry's recovery.

'We understand that public health is the Government's priority, and it was always expected that the return to international travel would be gradual, but the Government must use the next review to open up travel to more destinations, using the traffic light system to manage risk.

'We also need the Government to commit to supporting travel agents and tour operators through what will continue to be difficult times ahead.

'Travel will be one of the most restricted economic sectors coming out of the pandemic and this needs to be recognised through adequate grants to support these businesses.' 

Conservative MP Huw Merriman said yesterday: 'The resumption of international travel on May 17 will be welcomed by those who long to visit loved ones overseas, by UK Plc and by the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs and livelihoods rely on this industry.

'Barriers remain in place for most of our popular destinations, notably most of Europe, which have been placed on the amber list.

'This cautious approach means many will have to quarantine and face increased costs from testing; this will deter travel.

'The promise to give transparency over methodology and data, regular reviews of the rule-set and country lists, as well as increased digitisation to open e-gates on passenger arrival, must act as a springboard for more countries to be within reach as the summer progresses.' 

Following England's move towards free international travel yesterday, Mr Shapps also confirmed overseas travel rules expected to be 'broadly similar in design' across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Transport Secretary said he had spoken with the devolved administrations and that England's traffic light system had been created with their agreement. 

'All of the four chief medical officers of the Joint Bio Security Centre have met and agreed the principles that sit behind the traffic light system, so there is a large degree of agreement and co-operation in developing the system,' he said.

No plans for the resumption of foreign holidays have been announced by the UK's devolved administrations.

Which countries are on the red and amber lists? 

Red list

Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Amber List

Afghanistan, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech , Republic (Czechia), Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji,  Finland, France, French , Polynesia, Gabon, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece (including islands), Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nauru, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, The Occupied Palestinian Territories, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Poland, Réunion, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain (including the Balearics and Canary Islands), Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Martin and St Barthélemy, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia,  Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Western Sahara, Yemen.  

However, Mr Shapps highlighted there were ongoing election counts in Wales and Scotland which meant their governments were 'in flux' and 'it may take a few days for them to describe precisely what they wish to do'. 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: 'The First Minister has previously said that international travel restrictions won't be relaxed until May 17 at the earliest.

'This is being kept under review and we would expect the new administration to announce its intentions as soon as possible.' 

Earlier this week, Tui announced it will offer customers coronavirus tests for a fraction of standard prices.

The cheapest package - aimed at people returning from green destinations - will be available for just £20, and consist of a lateral flow test and PCR test.

PCR tests alone typically cost £120 each, although several travel companies offer them for £60.

Tui said it is 'subsidising the cost of testing to help customers travel again this summer'.

There are fears that testing requirements will make summer holidays unaffordable for many families by adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of a trip.

Fans demand the Champions League final be moved from Istanbul to England after Turkey is put on Covid 'red list' meaning EVERYONE who has bought a ticket will need to isolate or face a £10k fine on way home   

By Henry Martin for MailOnline 

Grant Shapps says fans should not travel to the Champions League final in Turkey as the country has moved into the travel red list - sparking fans to call for the game to be moved to England. 

Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet in the final on May 29 in Istanbul, with around 10,000 fans from the teams due to be allowed in the stadium. 

But the ability for Turkey to stage the all-English final has been placed into jeopardy after the country was added to the list of those requiring mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 days on return.

High coronavirus rates have made Turkey one of the high-risk countries that the British government is saying should be visited only for essential reasons.  

Turkey has been placed on the UK Government's 'red list' which has implications for this year's Champions League final in Istanbul between Chelsea and Manchester City

Chelsea and City players would have to quarantine on their return if the final is played in Turkey

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed Turkey, Nepal and the Maldives are on the red list

People returning to England from the red-list countries must stay in designated hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their door.

The Government is now in talks with UEFA over moving the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City to England. 

Grant Shapps told a Downing St press conference: 'I'm afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list and this will have a number of ramifications.

'First of all, it does mean with the regards to the Champions League, fans should not travel to Turkey.

'The FA are in discussions with Uefa already on this.

Chelsea fans celebrate outside the ground after beating Real Madrid 2-0 in their semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory and make the Champions League final where they will take on Manchester City. Picture date: Wednesday May 5, 2021

Manchester City fans celebrate outside the Etihad Stadium after reaching the Champions League Final, May 4

Fans offered different solutions to Turkey being added to the international travel 'red list' 

'We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for Uefa.

'Of course ... the UK has already got a successful track record of football matches with spectators, so we are well-placed to do it.'

He added: 'We are very open to it ... it is actually, in the end, a decision for Uefa to make, but given there are two English clubs in that final, we look forward to hearing what they have to say.'

Fans have offered varying solutions to the problem of hosting the final in a 'red list' country, with many saying it should be held in England instead. 

One said: 'Move it to England, keep it simple.'

Another said: 'Absolute no brainer to switch the final to UK equidistant venue, e.g. Villa Park or Cardiff.' 

Manchester City and Chelsea booked their places in the final on May 29 after overcoming Paris St Germain and Real Madrid respectively earlier this week.  

UEFA had insisted it had no plans to change the venue, stating: 'The UEFA Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured the temporary lockdown which is in force until May 17 should not have any impact on the match.

'UEFA continues to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely.'  

Elite sportspeople would not be exempt from the 10-day hotel quarantine rule upon their return to the UK. 

This ruling would cause serious concern for Gareth Southgate's England squad, who begin their European Championships campaign just 15 days after the planned European final. 

Several Three Lions internationals, including key men Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Mason Mount, are set to contest the Champions League final and their preparations for the European Championships would be severely damaged. 

And Transport Secretary Shapps confirmed the government are in talks to bring the final to England, so fans can attend the Champions League fixture and players remain on course for the European Championships. 

Shapps said in a Friday press conference: 'I'm afraid we are having to put Turkey on the red list, it does mean fans should not travel to turkey. 

'The FA are in discussions with UEFA. We are very open to hosting the final but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA. 

Staging the final in Turkey would mean England players Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling would have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel on their return

'Of course the UK already has successful track record of hosting games with spectators. I have spoken to the secretary of state for culture media and sport but we are very open to it'. 

Mr Shapps also confirmed that Nepal and the Maldives were added to the countries in the 'red list' along with Turkey - the highest band of coronavirus-stricken countries that have restrictions for UK citizens. 

Fan groups have urged UEFA to make a quick decision in light of the government's announcement.

'It is important they reach a decision quickly for the sake of the match-going fans, the earlier the better,' said Ronan Evain, chief executive of Football Supporters Europe.

'It would be a sensible decision to move the game. Health comes first and playing in Turkey would put thousands of English fans in an impossible position.

'These are extraordinary times and they should be treated as such. It should not create a precedent for finals to be moved, depending on who is playing in them.

'But this would have involved thousands of fans moving from one side of Europe to the other. It is legitimate to move the game.' 

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