Boris Johnson promises to keep travel rules as ‘user-friendly as possible’
The government has scrapped plans for an “amber watchlist” category of countries under UK international travel rules.
Ministers had been considering the new category for countries at risk of being moved from the amber to the red list under the traffic light system.
However, government sources confirmed last night that there would be “no amber watchlist”, following backlash from some Tory MPs, ministers and the travel industry.
Earlier on Monday, PM Boris Johnson said that he wanted to get the travel industry “moving again” and to keep a simple, “user-friendly” system of rules.
Meanwhile, the government looks set to drop red list rules for passengers transiting through certain airport hubs. The exemption would apply to travellers who remain airside at ”travel hubs” such as Dubai and Bahrain, providing they do not physically enter the red list country.
A government source told The Telegraph: “We are close to agreement and it will be announced in the next week or so.”
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Holidaymakers left in dark over international travel rules
After days of leaks and briefings from government on international travel rules, holidaymakers have been told to wait until Thursday for any clarity.
The skills minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News that the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, “will set out more what’s happening with ‘amber plus’ and also with France in particular”.
Ms Keegan said: “I know there’s been a lot of speculation in the press about what the system is going to be and obviously we’ve explored many options.
“But effectively what we want to do is keep it simple enough for people to really understand and obviously be able to take their own decisions based on the system.”
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‘What we want to do is keep it simple enough for people to really understand,’ says skills minister Gillian Keegan
Quarter of Brits now considering a ‘freedom holiday’ abroad
One in four Brits (25 per cent) are now considering going abroad for a “Freedom Holiday” this summer, up from 20 per cent at the end of June, according to new research.
A survey commissioned by Covid testing service Project Screen by Prenetics found that roughly 17 million people are now prepared to go overseas for a break this summer, an extra three and half million people since the end of June.
A further 10 per cent, equivalent to 6.8 million Brits, say they would be more likely to go abroad if the government made Covid tests cheaper by removing VAT.
Avi Lasarow, EMEA CEO of Project Screen by Prenetics said: “After a year of lockdowns, Brits deserve a Freedom Holiday abroad. But they need to travel safer and cheaper and keeping VAT on Holiday Covid tests is an unfair and regressive stealth tax on going abroad. It also penalises those who’ve not been doubled jabbed.
“Our research proves that if the government removed VAT, it would not only pay for the flights of a family of four travelling to Mallorca, it would help more people travel aboard and give a much needed boost to the UK travel industry.”
Number of foreign tourists to Spain rises tenfold
The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain jumped to 2.2 million in June, rising nearly tenfold year-on-year from 2020, official statistics showed on Tuesday.
Tourists spent a total of €2.42bn, up from around €133.9m last June – but still 75 per cent lower than in June 2019, pre-pandemic, when some 8.8 million people visited Spain.
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Wildfires destroy towns on Mediterranean and Aegean coasts
Resorts and beaches in Turkey have been evacuated after wildfires ripped through the country’s southern coast.
Eight people have been killed and more than 10,000 were evacuated.
Almost 120 fires erupted in 32 towns, with most of them brought under control.
Turkish authorities said that seven towns in Marmaris, Manavgat and Bodrum – popular tourist destinations – are still on fire.
The wildfires have also devastated parts of Croatia, Greece, and Italy.
Beril Eski reports
Eight people have been killed and more than 10,000 evacuated after wildfires ravaged southern Turkey, in the latest extreme weather event to hit Europe this summer.
Amber watchlist scrapped as travel advisory body left ‘rudderless’
Some front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers are focusing on the government having ditched its plan for an “amber watchlist”.
The decision to scrap the idea, that was meant to be part of its wider scheme of Covid travel restrictions, came after the chief of the Joint Biosecurity Centre, a body that advises on travel rules, had stepped down from the role – reports state.
The organisation set up by PM Boris Johnson was left “ruddlerless” by the departure of former spy Clare Gardiner as director-general without a successor in place to take the helm – according to the front page of The Guardian.
Her details had been removed from the organisation’s website in mid-June, the newspaper added.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that interim measures are in place and that the recruitment for her replacement is at an advanced stage.
easyJet to see return of ‘up to 60 per cent’ of pre-pandemic flying
easyJet is expecting to see this summer the return of more than half of its pre-pandemic flights.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of the British-based airline, said it was “the toughest decision” to ground its entire fleet of more than 300 of its planes for around three months last year.
He said he believed cancelling all the flights was the right choice to make – even though the company had expected to be in for a “record year” in 2020, he told airline news website Simple Flying.
This summer, easyJet is expecting to “be up to 60 per cent of 2019 flying”, Mr Lundgren said, partly by only focusing on profitable routes.
Last month, easyJet was “the only” low-cost airline that reported having reduced its operating losses, he claimed.
Hospitality sector welcomes arrivals of US and EU travellers
Travellers arriving in the UK are “crucial” in helping hospitality venues get back on their feet, the industry has said.
From today, those fully-vaccinated in the US or EU no longer have to isolate on arrival in the UK from an amber list country – except France.
The return of US visitors in particular would benefit London, trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has said in a report by CityAM.
It has estimated that the tourism industry contributes £40 billion to the economy.
UKH CEO Kate Nicholls said: “For the UK economy and hospitality sector to fully recover then the return of international travel is crucial.”
“We saw at the very early stages of the pandemic, prior to lockdowns and restrictions, the significant economic impact the absence of international visitors was having on venues, particularly those in London,” she added.
London lost out on £7 billion of foreign tourist spending last year, according to data from the Mayor of London’s office.
Tearful reunions at Heathrow after some restrictions eased
Families were overjoyed to be reunited with their loved ones at Heathrow Airport today after some travel restrictions had been eased.
Double-vaccinated travellers from the US and amber list EU countries – except France – can now travel to the UK without having to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival.
In a video posted on social media, arrivals at the airport were met with warm and tearful welcomes from their relatives and friends.
A woman hugging her son, who had arrived from the US, said she hadn’t seen him for “nearly two years” during the Covid pandemic.
“FaceTime is not the same as a hug,” she added in the video posted on Twitter by Jimmy Cannon of 7 Network Australia.
Scott Bateman, who is the chairperson of pilots’ organisation Pilots Together, reposted the video on Twitter and said: “[I] narrowly avoided this [scene] when arriving at Heathrow Airport today.
“The government restrictions aren’t just about a holiday, it’s about impacting the lives of families and loved ones that have been separated for years. Let’s stop mucking about, Downing Street.”