UK travel corridors: How are different countries planning on welcoming back British holidaymakers?

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

With the easing of lockdown going well in the UK but the threat of a third wave engulfing Europe and elsewhere, the long-awaited prospect of a summer holiday abroad this year hangs in the balance.

Many countries are pinning their hopes on this summer as the time where they can finally get their tourism sector back up and running after taking next to no bookings for over a year.

Several countries have already come up with plans to entice British holidaymakers - who are likely to be affluent and have had at least one jab of the Covid vaccine - to chose their nation as their holiday.

The earliest date anyone in England can go on a foreign holiday is May 17 when the next round of lockdown lifting is due to take place.

It is understood the government is working on a traffic light system for countries that are okay to visit - with 'green' countries requiring no period of self-isolation at all.

How are different countries planning to welcome the return of tourists?

Malta

The tiny Mediterranean island nation of Malta has recently announced a scheme that would give any foreign visitor to their country who stays in a hotel for three nights or more up to €100 (£87).

The money would be given to each person visiting and would depend on the star of the hotel they were staying at, with €100 for five-star hotels, €75 (£65) for a four-star hotel, and €50 (£42) for a three-star hotel hotel.



The hotel itself is also being asked to match the contribution, meaning if a couple stayed in a four star hotel for three nights they would receive €300 (£258) in total.

The scheme only applies to people booking directly to the hotel - third party holiday packages are not included.

The Maltese government has previously said their country would be open to travellers who have been fully vaccinated from June 1.

Greece

The Greek economy is heavily reliant on the tourism sector and is traditionally a popular destination for British holidaymakers.

Greece this week announced tourists from the European Union, the UK, the US, Israel and the UAE will not have quarantine if they have been vaccinated or test negative for Covid.

Authorities are hoping to open up to visitors from May 14.

Last month, in an interview with ITV News the Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis said Brits would be allowed to visit their country even if a Europe wide travel mechanism was not agreed.


Watch Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis saying British holidaymakers are welcome

The bilateral deal would mean anyone who had had their jab or recently received a negative Covid test could visit Greece.

Turkey

Across the Aegean Sea, Turkey is planning a more relaxed scheme than Greece is.

Tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy said last month the country is "looking forward to welcoming British tourists with open arms".

Turkey's plan will not require a vaccine and will not require a person to have had a negative test, although the latter part could be changed.

Israel

Israel announced earlier this month foreign holidaymakers would be allowed to visit their country from May 23 if they have had both doses of the vaccine.

Visitors will also be required to take a PCR test before boarding their flight, and a serological test upon arrival to prove their vaccination status.

The Israeli government have also said they could limit the number of people who are allowed to visit depending on the health situation.

France

France eased border restrictions to Britons last month, technically allowing holidays to their country to resume.

About 17 million British nationals normally visit France every year.The country has recently gone back into lockdown, which has had a knock-on effect on the tourism industry.

Most countries will require you to have a negative Covid test to visit Credit: PA

Once the lockdown ends, Brits will be able to visit France without needing to prove they have had a Covid vaccine.

But, visitors must have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within the previous 72 hours in order to gain entry.

Portugal

The Iberian country recently lifted a ban on flights from the UK to their country and plans to welcome tourists who have had both jabs or a negative Covid test.

The country is faring better than most other EU nations after entering a prolonged lockdown over winter and has began reopening its economy.

Spain

One of the the UK's most popular tourist destinations has yet to finalise its plan for welcoming back tourists but has hinted at the use of a vaccine passport similar to other European countries.

Many people may choose to stay in the UK this year for their holiday Credit: PA

The nation is currently still under tight lockdown measures so holidays there are unlikely in the next few months.

What about the traffic light system?

Although many countries are preparing to welcome back tourists, arguably the most important decision about where Brits will decided to on holiday will be made by the UK government.

The government's traffic light system would see people arriving in the UK from a "green" country be exempt from self-isolation rules.

Those entering from an “amber” destination must quarantine for 10 days.

Existing rules for arrivals from "red" locations will include a mandatory stay in a quarantine hotel, paid for out of the arrival's pocket.

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

Everyone returning to or visiting the UK will be required to take at least one coronavirus test before departure and after they arrive.

Assessments of where a country belongs will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population which has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Due to the current wave of coronavirus sweeping across Europe, it is likely many countries like Spain and France will be put on the amber list.


Listen to the ITV News coronavirus podcast