The travel industry has been abuzz this week with reports that the UK’s much criticised “traffic light” travel system could be axed within the next three weeks.
The government has reportedly asked senior travel industry leaders to make proposals for a new system, which will replace the current green, red and amber lists.
The BBC was told by an anonymous industry source that the new system would “allow vaccinated travellers to go to countries with similarly high levels of vaccination as the UK without the need for quarantine”, while a source “briefed on the proposal” told The Telegraph that the new system would be based on vaccination status.
Last night the president of the Scottish Passenger Agents Association (SPAA) Joanne Dooey said she was “confident” that UK travel restrictions would ease considerably at the next travel review checkpoint.
“I do think there will be changes to the restrictions that are in place for green countries. I am confident that more things will happen,” said Dooey.
The government declined to comment on the changes, saying: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.
“The next formal checkpoint review will take place by 1 October 2021.”
In other news, rail commuter numbers are down two thirds on pre-pandemic levels.
Follow the latest travel news below:
Jet2 resumes package holidays to European capitals
Jet2 is resuming its package holidays to European capitals, after pausing its city breaks offering throughout the pandemic due to travel restrictions.
Britain’s second-largest holiday company has resumed services from Manchester Airport to Rome and Barcelona, with more destinations to be announced during the winter, including Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Reykjavik.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2, said: “The demand for city breaks is returning very strongly and comes at the perfect time to get away to and explore Europe’s best cities.
“The restart of our award-winning city breaks programme is another step towards a real and meaningful restart of international travel.
“We still have some way to go, but we are looking ahead with real confidence and optimism as we know how much customers want to get away and enjoy themselves.”
The low-cost carrier cancelled all flights and holidays in the spring due to uncertainty around government travel rules, eventually resuming operations for green list countries only at the beginning of July.
Jet2 reported a positive financial contribution from flying over the summer, with demand boosted following the government’s move to allow quarantine-free travel to amber list destinations for the fully vaccinated from 19 July.
But it added that customers continue to book last minute due to uncertainty over the travel traffic light system.
Joanna Whitehead10 September 2021 16:07
Flights between Sydney and London could resume in November, claims travel boss
The CEO of high street travel retailer Flight Centre has said that flights between Sydney and London could resume in November.
Graham Turner has predicted that the UK capital is likely to be top of the list of international destinations to be reopened, according to The Telegraph.
“NSW has nothing to lose,” Mr Turner told The Daily Telegraph in Australia. “They’ve got the infection. It doesn’t matter that they bring in more.”
At present, entry to Australia is currently closed to the majority of people, apart from in exceptional circumstances.
Over half of the country’s 25 million people are currently under lockdown, with Sydney subject to lockdown restrictions since July.
The world’s sixth largest country is currently peaking with 66,318 live Covid-19 cases. The country has recorded 1,060 deaths to date.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been heavily criticised for the slow vaccine rollout and his failure to secure more doses earlier in the year.
At present, around 43 per cent of the population have been double-jabbed.
Joanna Whitehead10 September 2021 15:44
UK’s current staycation boom unlikely to be sustainable, say experts
The UK’s current staycation boom is unlikely to be fully sustainable in future years, experts have said.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, and Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, were discussing the current travel situation at The Independent’s latest virtual event on Wednesday night.
“In Cornwall we are working on a strategy at the moment looking at visitor numbers, particularly in August, so the infrastructure isn’t strained. The people of Cornwall would not want to suffer this every August,” said Bell.
With another busy summer predicted for 2022, however, he recommended: “Book early to get what you want at the price you want it.”
Watch the full video of the event here:
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 14:44
Maldives are ‘top choice for exiting the red list’, says Simon Calder
The Maldives could be one of the next countries to be removed from the UK’s red list for travel, Simon Calder has predicted.
Replying to a reader who asked about flying to the islands on 19 September in today’s Ask Me Anything event, The Independent’s travel correspondent wrote: “The Maldives are my top choice for exiting the red list.
“While nothing can be taken for granted, I am 90% confident the islands will be moved to the amber list.
“The fact that you will be there while it remains on the red list is, perhaps surprisingly, irrelevant. All that counts is the status of the country at the moment you arrive in the UK. And that means the wheels touching the runway.”
Read all of Simon’s expert answers to readers in the comments section here:
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 13:45
EU moves Japan and five other countries to its ‘unsafe’ list
The EU has moved Japan – along with Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei and Serbia – to its list of destinations deemed “unsafe” for travel, due to Covid infection rates.
The change in status means travellers returning from the countries are likely to face stricter rules around testing and quarantine.
Last week, the EU removed the US from its ‘white list’ of safe-to-travel destinations, prompting countries including Italy, Sweden and Denmark to tighten their testing and quarantine restrictions on US citizens travelling into the countries.
The list, which is reviewed every fortnight, exists as guidance aimed at unifying travel rules across the bloc, but its recommendations are not mandatory, with EU nations free to decide their own border policies.
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 13:29
Vietnam to pilot vaccinated tourists scheme in Phu Quoc
Vietnam is planning to reopen the beach holiday island of Phu Quoc to vaccinated tourists from October, for a trial period of six months, authorities have announced.
This pilot scheme to allow in double-jabbed international tourists could then be extended to tourist areas Ha Long, Hoi An and Nha Trang.
Vietnam has been closed to international visitors since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The prolonged pandemic has seriously hurt the tourism industry,” said Vietnam’s tourism and culture minister Nguyen Van Hung.
Fully vaccinated tourists will need a negative coronavirus test to enter Phu Quoc, the statement said, but will be able to travel to the island on chartered or commercial flights.
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 13:01
Newcastle-Edinburgh portion of the East Coast main line set to become ‘most competitive stretch of track in western Europe’
New train operator Lumo will make the Newcastle-Edinburgh portion of the East Coast main line the most competitive stretch of track in western Europe, writes Simon Calder in his weekly newsletter.
“On the day that Lumo starts running its one-class-only trains, the passenger turning up at Newcastle station around lunchtime with a view to reaching Edinburgh will face a bewildering choice.
“At 1.35pm, CrossCountry departs for the Scottish capital, with calls at three handsome coastal towns: Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar. Eight minutes later, a nonstop LNER service sets off in hot pursuit.
“Barely is it under way when, at 1.47pm, Lumo gives chase – pausing for a moment at Morpeth.
“Seven more minutes, and a LNER reinforcement is off, with a stop (no, not for border formalities) at Berwick.
“Finally, at 2.21pm, here comes TransPennine Express – the fifth Newcastle-Edinburgh train in less than an hour, picking up stragglers at Morpeth along the way. By 3.47pm, when it arrives in the Scottish capital, Waverley station should resound with Geordie accents.
“A remarkable frequency, better than every 10 minutes at times, between two great cities along Britain’s broad northeastern shoulder. But is it desirable or viable?”
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 11:24
Almost half of major UK airlines confused about travel rules, reports Which?
A Which? probe has found that seven in 15 airlines are giving holidaymakers confusing or inaccurate advice about current Covid travel rules.
The wrong advice being given could mean travellers being denied boarding, leaving them out of pocket for the entire cost of their flight or holiday.
In seven of 15 telephone calls that consumer champion Which? made to agents for British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair and Tui they were given ‘confusing or incorrect’ information.
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 10:42
Brits should ‘remain cautious’ about travel system changes, says travel money CEO
The CEO of travel money firm FairFX, Ian Strafford-Taylor, has weighed in on reports that the UK’s international travel system could be overhauled in the coming weeks.
“With continued whispers that the government’s traffic light system will be scrapped at the start of next month, things could be looking up for British holidaymakers who are hoping for a sense of normality to return,” said Strafford-Taylor.
“After a quiet week for the pound, things are looking up this morning as it creeps beyond the 1.17 mark against the euro. However, it’s still down compared with early August, when it hit the highest rate we’ve seen all year.
“While there’s certainly cause for optimism, Brits should remain cautious – if the last 18 months have taught us anything. it’s that nothing’s guaranteed. To make sure they get the most for their money, Brits should keep a close eye on the pound, organise their travel money while the rates are high and take the time to seek out the best deals.”
Lucy Thackray10 September 2021 10:23
Rail companies ‘winners of the award for destruction of your own industry’
In response to our story about a two-thirds cut in rail commuting, reader Adrian Stone has tweeted:
“The rail industry told people not to travel by train. People stopped travelling by train.
“Now the industry complains that no-one is travelling by train. 2021 winners of the Ratner award for destruction of your own industry. (Drum roll please).
“Yes, it’s the rail industry.”
The Rail Delivery Group says: “To encourage more people to take the train, the rail industry is running its biggest national marketing campaign in a generation, under the strapline ‘Let’s get back on track’.”
Simon Calder10 September 2021 09:56