Quarantine free holidays to Ibiza and Mallorca could resume within days after Government scientists advised that they can be moved to the travel green list. Pictured: Menorca
Quarantine free holidays to Ibiza and Mallorca could resume within days after Government scientists advised that they can be moved to the travel green list.
It comes as a welcome small relief for the travel industry – with tourism chiefs warning they face their ‘darkest hour’.
Industry leaders have pleaded with ministers to lift Covid travel curbs to save them from going bust this summer.
Ministers will meet tomorrow to decide which – if any – countries should be added to the tiny list of destinations where foreign holidays are currently permitted.
But the Mail can reveal that official scientists have advised ministers that the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain are now safe to be given green status.
If agreed, British holidaymakers could travel to Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera without the need to quarantine on return. Malta, which was approved by scientists but controversially rejected by ministers last month, is also expected to be added.
They would be the first mainstream holiday destinations on the list since the controversial removal of Portugal last month.
However, mainland Spain will remain on the amber list, meaning that travel is advised against, and quarantine is required on return.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the UK’s largest travel association Abta, led calls yesterday for restrictions to be eased amid the success of the vaccine rollout. He warned ‘the wolves are at the door’ for thousands of businesses.
Opening the Travel Matters conference of industry bosses, organised by Abta, Mr Tanzer said: ‘They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn. This dawn has been a long time coming, and we desperately need to see day breaking soon.
‘And yet at our hour of greatest need the Government seems intent on looking away. We’re desperate. We have members on the point of failure, of losing their businesses, in some cases their homes.’
Hundreds of industry bosses and employees will descend on Parliament Square today as part of a ‘Travel Day of Action’ in protest at the Government’s handling of the issue.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘It is now or never for the Government to reopen travel and save what is remaining of the summer season – not just for families desperate to get away but the tens of thousands of jobs which rely upon this once thriving sector.’
Ministers will also consider on Thursday whether quarantine rules for double-jabbed holidaymakers from medium-risk amber nations should be dropped. As it stands, all amber arrivals must quarantine for at least five days regardless of whether they have been jabbed.
Mr Tanzer said his organisation was considering legal action against the Government over its traffic light system. He accused ministers of failing to share the data upon which the decisions are made.
Mr Tanzer added: ‘Outbound travel is the sort of naughty child of everyone... that’s a bias we have to overcome.’
Meanwhile, Tui announced it was joining Virgin Atlantic and British Airways’ parent company IAG in supporting legal action already launched against the Government.
Industry leaders have pleaded with ministers to lift Covid travel curbs to save them from going bust this summer. Ministers will meet tomorrow to decide which – if any – countries should be added to the tiny list of destinations where foreign holidays are currently permitted. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson
The UK’s largest tour operator said the three firms have become interested parties in a challenge launched by Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group last week. The legal bid is an attempt to force ministers into being more transparent over how countries are ranked green, amber and red.
Tui’s Europe boss, Andrew Flintham, called some decisions ‘inexplicable’ and said the action was a last resort as ‘we’ve reached the end of our tether’.
He added: ‘We have the world’s best vaccination programme, maybe bar Israel, yet we have one of the world’s most restrictive travel programmes, maybe bar Australia.’
Both the US and European Union are allowing fully vaccinated citizens to sidestep testing or quarantine measures for holidays.
Huw Merriman MP, Tory chairman of the Commons transport committee, told delegates that the Government’s travel policy had been ‘shambolic’.
He said: ‘It’s been the sector that really has become the poster child for having been treated the most miserably in terms of the rules, restrictions and support from the Government.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We recognise the challenging times facing all sectors of transport as a result of Covid-19, which is why we put in place an economy-wide support package.’