Summer holidays abroad 2021: PM says trips to be 'affordable as possible' and could resume in May

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Boris Johnson has said the government is working to make foreign holidays "as affordable as possible" - and he hasn't given up hope that they can resume in May.

The prime minister said new waves of coronavirus in popular holiday destinations means "we can't [restart international travel] immediately, but that doesn't mean that we've given up on May 17".

He insisted he does "want to see international travel start up again" but said hopeful holidaymakers should be "realistic" because "a lot of the destinations that we want to go to at the moment are suffering a new wave of the illness".

PM said the UK, along with several other countries, is looking at "the role of vaccination passports for overseas travel", which is "going to be a fact of life, probably".

  • ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi on the topic of foreign holidays in 2021

It comes as the Home Office encourages people to apply for their passports ahead of May 17, with three million fewer having applications this year compared to previous years.

At Monday evening's press conference he confirmed that the UK ban on international travel, when lifted, will be replaced with a traffic light system that designates countries either green, amber, or red.

While returnees from red and amber countries will need to comply with quarantine rules, those arriving from green countries will be able to avoid a period of self-isolation if they pay for coronavirus tests.

The boss of easyJet said that system would only reopen international travel "for people who can afford it", due to the high cost of the coronavirus tests that would be required.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren called on the government to allow travellers to take cheaper, lateral flow coronavirus tests rather than more expensive alternatives.

Responding, the PM told reporters: "I raised that very issue myself yesterday. I do think we want to make things as easy as we possibly can.

How the traffic light system will work for international travel. Credit: ITV News

"The boss of easyJet is right to focus on this issue. We're going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and as affordable as possible."

At Monday's press conference Mr Johnson warned it's "too soon" for people to book any trips abroad this year, suggesting the restart could be delayed beyond May 17, which is the earliest date the lockdown roadmap says they could resume.

But he told reporters on Tuesday that he "can't see any reason to deviate" from his lockdown roadmap, and said experts would keep monitoring the data and respond accordingly.

On international travel he said "we will be saying as much as we can, as soon as we can".

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He added: "I know how impatient people are to book their holidays if they possibly can but I think we just have to be prudent at this stage."

An interim review into the restart of international travel said: "For the moment, the government advises people not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer.

"Given the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries, we are not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from [May 17].

"Taking into account the latest situation with variants and the evidence about the efficacy of vaccines against them, we will confirm in advance whether non-essential international travel can resume on May 17, or whether we will need to wait longer before lifting the outbound travel restriction."