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Which countries are welcoming UK travellers this summer?

With the UK’s restrictions on international travel set to be lifted and a new traffic light system in place, which destinations are hoping to welcome back British travellers?

Published 14 Apr 2021, 13:05 BST, Updated 12 May 2021, 14:49 BST
The UK’s roadmap out of lockdown lists 17 May as the earliest date for the easing ...

The UK’s roadmap out of lockdown lists 17 May as the earliest date for the easing of restrictions on foreign travel, and the British government has confirmed it’s going to formalise a ‘traffic light’ system, with tougher protocols for countries deemed ‘amber’ or ‘red’.

Photograph by Getty Images

Once the ban on international leisure travel is lifted, what destinations will be available to British travellers this summer? The UK’s roadmap out of lockdown lists 17 May as the earliest date for the easing of restrictions on foreign travel from England, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland yet to set a date. Of course, all timelines could change if infection rates change and new variants emerge.

The British government has confirmed it’s going to formalise a ‘traffic light’ system for travel, with a country categorised as ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ depending on the proportion of its population that have been vaccinated against coronavirus, its infection rates and the prevalence of variants of concern.

Read more: What are the practicalities of booking a break this summer?

But while many destinations are set to welcome back British travellers, most will require coronavirus testing or proof of vaccination for entry. Similar hurdles will likely need to be cleared for returning to the UK, too. Different levels of quarantine will be mandated for amber and red destinations (the latter currently requires 10 days’ hotel quarantine at a cost of up £1,750 per person, including two PCR tests).

While we await the ban on leisure travel to be lifted, and further clarification from the government on safe travel corridors and the traffic light system, here are some of the countries hoping to open their borders to British travellers.

For the latest updates, visit the government's travel advice website

Caribbean

Barbados, along with islands including Antigua, Cuba and St Lucia are open to UK travellers who can show a negative coronavirus test before departure, are willing to be tested on arrival and are amenable to spending up to five days in quarantine at approved hotel accommodation.

Croatia

Croatia is open for visitors who can produce a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result taken no less than 48 hours before entering the country.

Cyprus

British travellers, the largest tourism market for the Mediterranean island’s tourism industry, will be allowed entry from 1 May, if they can show they’ve had both doses of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency and administered at least seven days before travel.

France

Like Germany, France has said the country is pushing for imminent implication of a vaccine passport but, also like Germany, coronavirus rates are soaring in France and vaccine uptake has been slow, so its ‘red’ status for UK travellers looks likely. France, meanwhile, has said it will welcome British travellers from mid-May when UK travel restrictions are eased.

Greece

As spring sunshine started warming Greek beaches, authorities there made plans for incoming tourists. From 14 May, travellers who’ve been vaccinated will be allowed entry; those without a vaccination are required to have proof of a negative Covid test before travelling.

Israel

Open now for all travellers who can present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure, including those with a vaccination certificate or a certificate of recovery.

Italy

Due to currently rising coronavirus rates in the country, Italy's government has extended its mandatory self-isolation requirement. Until 30 April, UK travellers must present their airline with a negative Covid-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken no more than 48 hours before travel, and must self-isolate for five days upon arrival, and undertake a molecular or antigenic test before ending isolation. Regional travel in Italy is banned until 30 April.

Madeira

The Portuguese Atlantic archipelago has been operating a ‘green corridor’ since 18 February this year for tourists who’ve recovered from coronavirus in the previous 90 days or who’ve been fully vaccinated. The latter must be able to present an immunisation certificate in English, validated in their home country, that also shows they’ve respected the activation period required for the vaccine. The Azores has similar requirements.

Malta

From 1 June, the Mediterranean island nation will allow entry to UK travellers who’ve had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Maldives

Open now for all visitors who can present a negative coronavirus PCR test on arrival, issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure, and who have filled out a traveller declaration form 24 hours before travelling.

Portugal

Mainland Portugal is currently restricting arrivals from the UK but has said it will open its borders to Britons with vaccinations, proof of immunity, or negative Covid tests from mid-May.

Seychelles

With a robust national vaccination programme, the Indian Ocean archipelago has opened borders to tourists, without a mandatory quarantine or vaccination required. Travellers must show a negative coronavirus test to enter the island nation within 72 hours of departure.

Spain

After three months of suspended flights, on 30 March Spain lifted its ban on entry for UK travellers. Arrivals will have to show a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours before travel. Spanish nationals are still restricted from travelling between regions, however. Spain’s tourism minister, María Reyes Maroto, has said the country will soon introduce a digital vaccine passport; the Balearic Islands, including popular sun, sea and party hotspots such as Ibiza and Majorca, are each pushing to become the first place to implement the passports. However, like France and other European countries experiencing a ‘third wave’ of rising coronavirus infection rates, Spain looks set to be on the UK government’s ‘red’ list.

Turkey

Tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy has said the country expects to welcome UK travellers this summer without requiring proof of a vaccine or a negative test, as soon as foreign leisure travel is permitted. Mr Ersoy has said that tourism workers in Turkey will be prioritised for Covid-19 jabs before the summer season.

USA

The Biden administration has said it’s likely to lift the ban on arrivals from the UK and Europe by mid-May, with plans afoot to implement trials for vaccine passports. Current entry requirements mean travellers must provide a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel or provide documentation from a licensed healthcare provider of having recovered from the virus in the 90 days preceding travel. 

Read more: Everything you need to know about travel during the coronavirus outbreak

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