Tourism industry criticizes UK travel list changes
Nawied Jabarkhyl in London
Large parts of the travel industry have criticized the UK government's latest changes to its traffic-light system for travel.
Only two destinations have been added to its green list, which requires no quarantine on arrival in the UK – Bulgaria and Hong Kong.
UK travelers are currently banned from entering Hong Kong over fears they may bring in the Delta variant.
In other changes, tourist hotspot the Balearic Islands – which include Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – will move back onto the tougher amber list, which currently means 10 days of self-isolation at home on return to the UK.
Four other nations – Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone – will be classified as red.
All of the above changes come into effect from 3 a.m. GMT on Monday July 19.
Virginia Messina, managing director of the World Travel and Tourism Council said the constant changes were putting people off booking trips.
"I think the challenge we have is all these changing rules, because that is what is really undermining consumer confidence. We are really at a peak season when it comes to travel, particularly in regions like Europe and the UK, so the next six weeks are really significant."
Many in the travel sector want to see more places added to the green list, particularly given that many locations have lower infection rates than the UK.
On Wednesday, there were more than 42,000 cases recorded in the country, the highest figure since mid-January and the numbers are expected to continue rising sharply.
The UK government predicts there will be 100,000 cases a day later in the summer.
No quarantine for double-jabbed
From July 19, anyone returning from an amber-list country or territory who has had two doses of vaccination or is under the age of 18 no longer needs to self-isolate.
That could offer some hope for those still planning a summer getaway, with popular destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece all currently classified as amber.
But with the rules remaining fluid, that could easily change.
Messina said there needed to be "more flexibility" for vaccinated travelers.
"We know that the vaccines work and are efficient and are really helping us in terms of [reducing] hospitalizations and deaths. We should really be accounting for that and balancing the health risks with the economic recovery."
The travel and tourism industry has been battered by COVID-19. The World Travel and Tourism Council figures show 62 million jobs were lost last year and more remain at risk.
"Many businesses, whether big or small, are in a fight for survival," said Messina.