A number of Caribbean islands are at risk of joining the red list in the next travel update, while few countries are expected to go green, according to expert analysis.
Looking at the latest Covid case rates, experts have predicted that Jamaica, St Lucia and Dominica, plus the north African nation of Morocco, could be downgraded from amber to red at the UK government’s review of the traffic light lists, expected later this week.
The analysis from the PC Agency also suggested that eight green destinations could move down to amber, reports The Telegraph: Israel, Croatia, Madeira, Lithuania and Montserrat, and the Caribbean islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Turks and Caicos.
Just five destinations were predicted to be in line for a green upgrade from amber: Poland, Bhutan, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile 82 “cowboy” travel testing firms have been issued a warning for advertising misleading prices.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said 82 businesses were being sent a two-strike warning while a further 57 were being removed from gov.uk’s “find a travel test provider” page altogether.
Read the latest travel updates below:
US travellers divided on airline ‘mask mandate’
Following news that the US has extended the rule on compulsory mask-wearing across all flights until January 2022, research shows that American flyers are split on whether the rule will make them more or less likely to fly.
A survey by US website Financebuzz.com found that 24% of respondents said they would be “much less likely” to fly if airlines stopped requiring masks, while 21% said they would be “much more likely” to fly if the mask mandate was dropped.
The survey, published on 18 August, also found that more than half (55%) of Americans have canceled or changed travel plans due to the Delta variant.
Lucy Thackray23 August 2021 17:50
Barbados tourism on the road to recovery with more than 10,000 visitors during July
Barbados has “weathered the Covid-19 storm”, says its tourist board, which has published figures showing that over 10,000 passengers arrived there by plane during July.
Barbados Tourism Marketing reported the figure as a “major tourism milestone” and a “positive turn for the industry ahead of the 2021-22 winter season”.
The Caribbean island has been on the UK’s green list since 30 June 2021.
A total of 10,819 visitors flew into Barbados during July, a “significant increase” on the 6,745 visitors who travelled there in July 2020.
The UK was the second biggest source market, with 34.4% of visitors, behind only the US at 43.3%.
Lucy Thackray23 August 2021 17:06
UK needs to move away from mandatory travel testing, says airline body
The UK needs to move away from mandatory PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers, Airlines UK has argued.
The aviation body said the country needs to adopt a “risk-based” system instead.
It tweeted: “Any action to tackle rogue or misleading travel testing firms is welcome but not enough – we need to move away from mandatory PCR tests for the fully vaccinated and towards a simpler, more risk-based system.”
It follows Sajid Javid’s announcement that the government is cracking down on “cowboy” testing firms advertising misleading prices.
Some 82 companies have been issued with a warning, while tens of others were removed from the government’s list of testing providers altogether.
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 15:58
Bank holiday road trips back to pre-pandemic levels
Bank holiday road trips are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this weekend, AA research has revealed.
Feedback from 14,759 AA members last week showed that 42 per cent have planned or have in mind a bank holiday getaway. That points to 13.3 million cars on road trips celebrating the end of summer.
That percentage is significantly up on the 37 per cent of bank holiday road trippers last year but back to where the UK was in 2019.
Overall, also taking into account those who will be doing normal weekend travel, UK roads will have to cope with 18.4 million cars on the move at some stage of the three days.
“Weather is always a big decider on where people spend their bank holiday. However, AA research suggests that local traffic may be heavier this time,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.
“There are likely to be big delays on the roads where holiday traffic mixes with sporting or shopping day trippers. Drivers are advised to check their cars before venturing out.”
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 15:29
Join us for a free virtual travel Q&A session this week
Grappling with the green list? Angry at the amber list? Rattled by the red list?
Join The Independent’s travel team for a live lunchtime event, where they’ll be answering your burning holiday questions ahead of the government’s next update to the traffic light lists.
It is understood that the next update to the traffic light system for travel will be announced by the government on 25 or 26 August.
To help understand what might change, on Wednesday 25 August travel correspondent Simon Calder and travel editor Helen Coffey will be on hand for half an hour from 1pm to whip through as many reader queries as possible. From testing to transiting, vaccines to quarantines, the team will untangle the confusion around the latest rules to help you plan your next trip.
Click below for more information and to sign up to this free event:
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 15:02
Interest in international travel gains momentum
New data has been released showing strong demand for international cross-border travel.
Trip.com Group search data from its Ctrip platform reveals Chinese travellers are showing increasing interest in travel to Europe, with search volumes for European flights and hotels surging this summer.
Compared to 2021 pre-summer (1 January-20 June) searches, Ctrip search volume for European flights grew by over 150 per cent in July, and continue to rise in August, peaking on 12 August over 320 per cent higher than the pre-summer volume.
Similarly, Ctrip user searches for European hotels have risen sharply too. In August alone, searches for European hotels rose by an average of 80 per cent compared to the January-June average, with the highest search volume recorded on 9 August up almost 120 per cent on 2021 pre-summer levels.
“The global travel recovery is underway and we are strengthening our partnerships in local markets to ensure we are best positioned to support their business’s recovery and growth along with the return of domestic and international travel flows,” said Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group.
“We are eager to share our global expertise through our local teams to deliver the best support for partners, as well as provide our users with the most appealing product offering.”
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 14:44
Testing firms praise government for booting ‘cowboys’ off official list
Commenting on the government’s announcement that they are axing misleading Covid test providers, Avi Lasarow, EMEA CEO of Project Screen by Prenetics – which is also on the official list of test providers – said: “It’s great to see the government clamping down on rogue test providers who have been abusing the government list and misleading holidaymakers with cheap test offers that don’t exist.
“The Covid-19 testing market is maturing but travellers are not interested in excuses. They expect service and results without compromise.
“Responsible test providers wanted to see these cowboys forced out of town so we can restore trust in the testing process for holidaymakers.
“But if we want to make it cheaper and safer for passengers would be an extra positive step if VAT was axed on all holiday Covid tests.
“By axing VAT on these tests, a family of four flying to Majorca could save £182 – which would pay for the costs of the flights.”
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 14:03
Which countries could go on the green list?
The next tri-weekly review of the UK’s traffic light system for travel is fast approaching.
An update is expected on or around 25 August, with the potential for more countries to be added to the government’s green list of “safe” holiday destinations.
There are 36 countries and territories rated green at present. But what are the top contenders for upgrading from amber this time around?
Poland, Bhutan, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia have all been touted as destinations with low enough Covid figures to warrant a move to the green list.
Read The Independent’s full explainer to find out more:
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 13:31
Spike in Brits booking last-minute August bank holiday staycations
Today is the day when most Brits book a last-minute bank holiday staycation, according to new data.
Warner Leisure Hotels has revealed the date after finding a huge surge in bookings every year for the past five years.
The spike in last-minute bookings tends to occur four days before the bank holiday weekend, with 50 per cent more bank holiday bookings made on this date than days in the previous week, and 57 per cent more than on the same day the week prior.
That makes 23 August the day the hotel chain expects to see a spike this year.
Simon Thompson, managing director of Warner Leisure Hotels, said: “We weren’t entirely surprised to see that holiday bookings spiked four days before the bank holiday over the past half-decade – for many people this long weekend sneaks up on them.
“After the year we’ve had, so many of us are looking to enjoy a well-earned break this August bank holiday.”
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 12:20
UK airports take gold, silver and bronze for worst affected by Covid
New data analysed by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) suggests UK aviation is suffering more than European competitors.
Ahead of this week’s traffic light system update, Balpa is highlighting the effect that restrictions are having on UK aviation and pointing to new data that shows the UK falling behind Europe.
The latest data from Eurocontrol published in mid-August reveals that the top three worst affected airports in Europe are in the UK: Gatwick (1), Manchester (2) and Heathrow (3).
British pilots say it is now vital that the government announces winter financial support for the sector including a six month extension of furlough.
Helen Coffey23 August 2021 11:53