Why Malta and the Balearic Islands may be added to travel green list, and why they may not

The Balearics, including Ibiza, could be added to the green list, according to reports Credit: PA

The government will update its travel traffic light system on Thursday - but don't expect any big extension to the list of destinations you can visit without having to quarantine on return.

For weeks, ministers have stressed public health and the need to protect the UK’s vaccine rollout - rather than reopening international travel at a faster pace.

For industry-insiders, Malta is one of the strongest tips for possible promotion to the green list - it has low viral rates and high vaccination levels. Many travel firms fail to see why Malta was not added to the quarantine-free list weeks ago.

Portugal, which was on the green list before being removed, seems unlikely to make it back into the group of destinations where travel is easier.

A high incidence of the Delta variant seems to count against any change to this popular holiday spot but some in the industry remain hopeful.

The Balearics including Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca would be a very popular addition to the green list and there have been unconfirmed reports that scientists at the Joint Biosecurity Centre would approve this.

However, these are mass market destinations and the government may be nervous about reopening them to the more than five million Brits who usually travel there each year.

A much bigger shift to the traffic light system is also being teased by government - the prospect of quarantine-free travel from amber list countries (the vast majority of popular destinations) for the 32 million UK citizens who have had both jabs. This now seems to be a question of "when" not "if".

Credit: PA

The travel trade wants any changes to happen by July as the "last chance to save summer" as some are calling it.

It is thought that some in government are urging a more cautious approach, pushing back the change to later in the summer.

Stay up to date with the changing travel situation in the UK and abroad with news, information and advice at itv.com/holidaynews.