Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
5:00 AM 4th June 2021

Government Digests 'Holiday' Ban Backlash

Photo by: Sven Scheuermeier,
Photo by: Sven Scheuermeier,
The government's controversial decision to move Portugal from its 'RED' to 'AMBER' travel zone, has today prompted widespread criticism with some bar owners in the likes of Lanzarote claiming that they are now almost certain to be 'out of business'.

It means that visitors to the sunshine country now face quarantine upon their return from Portugal; this wasn't the case just days ago, when it was among just a handful of destinations classed as 'GREEN' with zero quarantine requirement upon return.

Now, however, the Covid variant, first identified in India, is on the rise, prompting this latest government action. But it has baffled some.

Here's what they're saying:

“We were told the traffic light system would allow people to travel safely, with the right measures in place to manage risk for different countries.
Photo by: Niklas Ohlrogge,
Photo by: Niklas Ohlrogge,
“But it is now clear the Government doesn’t trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.Low-risk destinations continue to be left off the green list despite clear evidence they are safe to visit. With case rates lower than the UK, we simply cannot understand why the likes of the Balearics, the Canaries and some Greek islands do not fall into that category.

“If we followed the approach being taken across Europe, lots of other countries – like the United States, Germany and Italy – would also be classed as green.

“Instead, we’re stuck with a system that is clearly not fit for purpose and will deny people the opportunity to travel abroad safely this year.

“The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the Government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We have repeatedly asked for this data, but we are being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.

“That is not the way to go about limiting people’s freedoms and crippling the country’s travel and tourism sectors. With so much at stake, we need immediate transparency and urgent action to make this system of travel restrictions fit for purpose.”

“We know how disappointed our customers and independent travel agency partners will be following yesterday's announcement, and we share their concerns and frustrations."The UK Government has repeatedly stated that it is making decisions based on infection and vaccination rates, yet many destinations continue to be left off the Green List despite having low infection rates and high vaccination rates.
Photo by: Connor Jalbert,
Photo by: Connor Jalbert,
When you apply the Government’s own criteria for making decisions about travel, we simply cannot understand why more destinations across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are not allowed to open to UK holidaymakers.

"We are now calling for complete openness and transparency when it comes to the data, so that customers and the industry can really understand what is driving these decisions.

"We agree that public health must be the number one priority. However, despite all the evidence and data showing that travel can restart safely and at scale, the UK continues to remain largely grounded whilst the rest of Europe opens up.

"Following this latest update, we have taken the decision to restart flights and holidays on 1st July 2021 (excluding our Jersey programme which will restart on 24th June 2021). In addition to that, because Turkey currently remains on the Red List we have taken the decision to restart flights and holidays to Turkey on 22nd July 2021.

"For any destinations currently on the Amber List, we are also allowing customers to amend their booking free of charge if they are due to travel between 1st July and 21st July 2021.

"Where customers are affected by any programme changes outlined above, we will automatically cancel their booking with a full refund, and our team of travel experts will be in touch to help them to rebook their summer getaway.

We have received praise from customers, consumer organisations, media and independent travel agents for our industry-leading and prompt refunding of over £1.3bn to customers whose travel plans have been affected by programme changes during the pandemic, and we will continue this customer-first approach. Unlike other companies, we will refund customers if they want their money back and we will not force them to accept refund credit notes.

"The UK Government has committed to reviewing its Traffic Light status of overseas destinations every three weeks. We will review our programme and policies in line with that timetable and we will continue to make considered decisions in the best interests of our customers and independent travel agency partners. We have been repeatedly recognised for that approach throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to do this.

"We know that there is enormous pent-up demand for our flights and ATOL protected package holidays. Our customers want nothing more than to get away on their much-needed holidays and our colleagues want nothing more than to give customers the holiday they deserve. We know international travel can restart safely, so we urge the Government to urgently reconsider its approach and work with the industry to help us achieve that.”