LONDON, UK — The United Kingdom will begin reopening for international travel on May 17 with a list of select ‘green list’ countries and territories.
A new traffic light system will allow travellers returning from a green-list destination to bypass quarantine upon return to the U.K. These countries include Australia, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal and more.
Those returning from ‘red list’ countries, which include Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal, will need to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, effective May 12.
Canada and the United States have landed on the amber list, the biggest group of destinations that also includes The Bahamas, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and more. People returning from these countries will need to isolate from home for at least five days.
For the complete lists and entry requirements click here.
The WTTC, which has long since advocated for the safe resumption of travel, welcomes this first initial step by the U.K. government to begin opening the door to international travel. However, President & CEO Gloria Guevara says that more key markets, particularly the U.S., should be given the green light.
“Airlines and the wider Travel & Tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the U.S., 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 & Tourism markets in the world,” said Guevara.
She noted that the U.K. is the fourth biggest G20 economy in terms of international Travel & Tourism spend from business travel, which amounted to £7.5 billion in 2019, pre-pandemic.
“While we understand that protecting public health should be the priority, the U.K. 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,” she added. “Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by the news, with so few countries on the green list, while Europe steals a march on the U.K. by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back.”
Guevara also expressed her disappointment over the fact that U.K. travellers are expected to pay for expensive PCR tests out of pocket, even when travelling from countries on the green list.
“This will make foreign holidays totally unaffordable for many families,” she warned. “We urge the U.K. government to work with its providers to offer more cost-effective tests for U.K. travellers or accept the more affordable yet rapid and effective antigen tests.
“After suffering the biggest fall in contribution towards GDP from Travel & Tourism of the 10 most important global markets – by a staggering 62.5% – the U.K. can ill-afford to be this cautious.”
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