Abta, which represents British tour operators, has said testing costs could provide a barrier for travel, even to “green” list countries.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive, said the Government should consider dropping testing requirements for vaccinated travellers.
“While the framework isn’t perfect – the requirement for a PCR test when you arrive back from a green list country could prove a cost-barrier for many people – we welcome the fact that the Government commits to engaging with industry on this issue,” he said.
“Small changes, like requiring a PCR test only if the individual gets a positive result from a lateral flow test, would make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against re-importation of the virus.
“The Government should also consider whether those who have been vaccinated can be exempt from testing requirements, should scientific evidence suggest reduced transmissibility.”
He also said it is vital for the survival of the indsutry that the Government regularly reviews the “green” list.
“Closing off destinations unnecessarily will significantly affect the industry’s opportunity to recover this summer,” he said.
Holidays to some of the UK’s most popular destinations, including Spain, Greece and Turkey, will require pre-travel testing and at least three days of quarantine, according to new data.
The plans of tens of thousands of British travellers could be disrupted by the news as the prospect of unfettered overseas travel by the summer recedes, with only a dozen countries set to be added to the “green” list in May.
Spain, which alone welcomes 18 million Britons in a normal year, is to be added to a putative “amber” list when the Government introduces its new four-tier traffic light system for the resumption of holidays abroad. Cyprus could join it on the “amber” list, according to analysis by The PC Agency.
Meanwhile the US could be set for one of its busiest summers as it looks likely to make the “green” list, along with Canada, Barbados and the United Arab Emirates.
A Government source downplayed the Prime Minister’s announcement next week on the return of overseas travel, adding: “It is still too early to say where and when people will be able to go on holidays, but there will be detail about what that will look like.”
Guardian Travel pick: A day to remember, Santiago de Compostela
It was a rainy morning in Santiago, Galicia, in late November 1975. I was in my third year at university, studying languages, and was spending the entire year in Spain, ostensibly to improve my language skills. As I walked towards town I became aware of a large number of people in the streets, many shouting. One man thrust a newspaper at me with a laugh of amazement: “No sabes?” (Don’t you know?). Franco was dead. After 36 years of dictatorship, the seemingly immortal Generalissimo was gone. The university closed. Riots began, the Guardia Civil practised baton charges outside my apartment. I just went travelling for nine months. I still have the newspaper. Nick Coghlan
In Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Granada there were so many processions with lots of singing and music. But the one that lingers in my memory is the Maundy Thursday silent procession at midnight, as the streetlights are dimmed and the crowd falls silent, mobile phones are turned off, and to the beat of a drum, barefooted and chained men and women manoeuvre a huge crucifix through the town. Somewhere in the distance a saeta (Gypsy folk song) pierces the quiet and the air is thick with incense. We sit on our apartment windowsill in spellbound silence. This is the Spain we came to experience. Anne Heath
Dalí’s des res
Fall in love with Salvador Dalí’s magical house in Portlligat on the Costa Brava. Fashioned from three fishermen’s cottages, the interior and garden are now a museum, including his studio left as was. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and loves of Dalí, with his eclectic collections and curiosities. It’s on the coast close to the lovely town of Cadaqués, remote and rugged – slightly tricky to reach on a long, hairpin-filled drive. The reward is an insight into the artist’s day-to-day life and the surroundings that inspired his work. Book in advance. Small parties allowed in at intervals with tour guide. salvador-dali.org Nicola Emmerson
Flirting under Franco
It was 1968 and I was in Barcelona on a language exchange trip. My Spanish was improving, as I was staying with a Spanish family. In those days speaking Catalan was forbidden and Franco was still in power, so discussion of politics was also forbidden in that liberal household. Every night I and the older brother would go out to meet friends in the Barrio Gótico. At the time, the paseo every evening involved girls and young women parading down one side of the street and boys down the other, but later on customs were changing and the students danced in tiny discotheques, returning home to have the door opened by the street warden. Frankie, Spain
A walk-on part in Game of Thrones
Last summer, on a road trip around the Basque Country and Navarre, my girlfriend and I made an afternoon pit-stop at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Despite not having a pre-booked ticket we pleaded the “daft Scots” defence and were granted access to the small islet with a little church dating from the ninth century. The setting of the church atop the islet is like something from a fairytale and provides incredible views of the ancient Basque coastline (all the more satisfying for the steep hike to get there). The location was used as Dragonstone in Game of Thrones and, to my girlfriend’s embarrassment, I sang the theme tune the whole way up the 241 steps to the church … Graham
Moors and mountains
The village of Moclín in Granada province is a marvel. Set on a mountaintop crowned by a Moorish castle, it is surrounded by fragrant pine forest. Get up at dawn to watch the sun rise over the Sierra Nevada then wander down to the river valley below, watched by wild ibex. Listen to the sound of golden orioles as they swoop through the treetops. Cross the Río Velillos and make your ascent through the woods and back to the village in time for breakfast in the village bar. Unforgettable. Gillian Homeri
Sherry and shrimps in Cádiz
There is nothing quite like the first sip of sherry, standing in the Mercado Central in Cádiz, surrounded by the buzz and hum of the locals’ lunchtime conversations. Once the sweet manzanilla hits your palate, you’ll be ready for the contrast of a salty tortillita de camarones (shrimp fritter), the city’s speciality and a steal at €2 – bought from one of the many food stalls. While you’re there, you can also pick up some fresh fish for that evening, and walk off the afternoon’s indulgences on the Playa de la Victoria. Jenny Galligan
On the rocks in Andalucía
Somewhere in Andalucía, the Milky Way is visible. In the still darkness, we bundle into the car and set off along the dusty roads, passing sleepy Moorish towns nestled in the Axarquía mountains. By the time we’ve reached El Torcal de Antequera natural park, day is breaking. At that moment, El Torcal, known for its flat limestone rock formations, belongs only to us. The rock face emerges as if painted by light. We amble through the giant labyrinth, and out of nowhere Iberian ibex appear – we’re captivated. About 30km north of Málaga, this area was under sea until 100 million years ago. Sarah Shaw
Petroglyphs on the Camino de Santiago
While we were staying at the delightful art centre retreat Flores del Camino, a beautifully restored traditional stone house in the medieval village of Castrillo de los Polvazares on the Camino de Santiago near Astorga, our friendly hosts Bertrand and Basia took us at dawn to the nearby 5,000-year-old petroglyphs of Maragateria, facing mount Teleno. Only at the moment the sun rises can the prehistoric markings of labyrinths and cup and rings be clearly seen carved on the surface of the rocks. Silence, beauty and light combine to create a truly moving and unforgettable experience. floresdelcamino.com Nicholas Durnan
Basque in its isolation, Pyrenees
Following in smugglers’ footsteps, we stole towards the Spanish-French border of the Basque Pyrenees, twisted oaks and shepherds’ stone huts silhouetted in the morning mists. The Baztán valley seemed Tolkienesque as we listened to the stories of witchcraft, contraband and second world war escapes that depended on the Basques as guides. Knowing nothing of the Basques, we had stumbled accidentally on this unique walking holiday. These isolated Pyrenean borderlands have preserved the Basque culture and language by keeping tourists at bay. Today, where better to be isolated than in an area that has been isolated since time began? pyreneanexperience.com John Crawshaw
Because of the coronavirus crisis there is currently no prize on offer for the week’s best entry – though that will return soon
Spain could introduce its own ‘green corridor’ for vaccinated British holidaymakers, if there is no collective EU decision on vaccine passports, the country’s Tourism Minister Fernando Valdés has said.
Mr Valdés confirmed that Spain was in “discussions” with the UK and told Bloomberg: “For us the British market is our main market. But obviously since we are a member of the European Union, the solutions have first to be part of the discussions in the EU.
“And obviously if that cannot be reached, we will be thinking of other corridors like green corridors with third countries that can help us restart tourism flows.”
The news comes after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday that plans for an EU-wide Digital Green Pass would be proposed this month and that it could be a first step towards a passport facilitating travel from outside the EU.
However, the EU plans were later labelled as “confusing” by Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.
At last night’s Downing Street press briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock signalled that the Government was working with various countries on potential vaccine passports.
He said: “We are working with international partners. The EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work.”
The FCDO is advising against all non-essential travel to Germany.
The German government has restricted air and sea travel to Germany at its external Schengen borders.
Travellers from the UK are currently only permitted to enter Germany if they are returning to their place of residence, if they serve in an important role or if they have an urgent need, such as urgent medical treatment.
“Travellers arriving in Germany who have been in the UK in the preceding 10 days must present a negative COVID-19 test to border officials when entering Germany,” states the FCDO travel advice.
“Airline passengers will have to present their negative test at the start of their journey.
“The result can be in either paper or electronic form. The test must have been taken less than 48 hours before entry to Germany.
“Children aged five or under are exempt from the test requirement.
“Even with a negative test, travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days following arrival in Germany, with the possibility of test and release after 5 days in some areas.”
The FCDO says it “is not advising those already travelling in Germany to leave at this time.”
It adds: “Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.”
Current measures in place in Germany include a name of restrictions on social contact in place until February 14 at the earliest.
Under the current lockdown rules, private gatherings are restricted to one household plus one individual from another household; non-essential shops are closed.
Shops selling food and healthcare products will remain open
personal care service providers such as barbers, hairdressers, tattoo and massage parlours are closed.
Physiotherapy and similar services are open.
Schools and nurseries will largely be closed until at least February 14
employers are legally obliged to allow employees to work from home, where their work activities allow, until March 15.
Restaurants are permitted to provide a takeaway service, but the consumption of alcohol in public is banned.
Services at churches, mosques and synagogues continue to be allowed as long as 1.5m distancing is maintained, mouth-nose coverings are worn and singing is banned.
In some parts of Germany, local travel restrictions are in place and individuals cannot leave a 15km radius of their place of residence.
Under current lockdown rules in the UK, holidays are firmly on hold. According to the Government regulations, only those who need to travel for an “essential” purpose are permitted to do so.
However, along with an array of new rules in Briton, travellers jetting off to Europe must also face strict entry requirements specific to each country.
These include everything from proof of a negative coronavirus test to providing evidence of nationality or legal residency rights.
Here are the latest travel rules for Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece and Portugal according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to Spain, “including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands”, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
On December 22, 2020, the Spanish government introduced travel restrictions on passengers arriving from the UK by both air and sea.
These measures have since been extended until 6pm on February 2, 2021.
The only exceptions to this rule are Spanish nationals or those who are legally resident in Spain.
All arrivals into Spain from “risk countries, which includes the UK, must provide a negative PCR, TNA or LAMP test taken within no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.”
“International transit through Spanish airports by passengers on flights departing from the UK is permitted on presentation of a negative PCR, TNA or LAMP test taken within no more than 72 hours prior to arrival into Spain,” explained the FCDO.
“If you are resident in Spain, you should carry your residence document (the green paper EU residence certificate or the new TIE), as well as your valid passport when you travel.
“The Spanish authorities have not confirmed whether other documents are being accepted as sufficient proof of residence to enable entry to Spain.”
READ MORE: How to get a covid test in France, Italy, Greece, Germany & Portugal
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of France based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
France announced it would be restricting travel form the UK from December 20. Travel restrictions apply to all air, car, ferry and train passengers.
At present, only certain categories of traveller are permitted to enter France.
Those who fit into these categories must follow a strict set fo entry requirements.
These include French nationals, nationals of the European Area and their spouses and children; British and/or third-country nationals who are either habitually resident in France, the European Union or the European Area, or who must travel for certain essential reasons (as specified by the French government); British or third-country nationals travelling for certain exceptional reasons.
The FCDO travel advice page explains: “All travellers from the UK, including children aged 11 and above, will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result, carried out less than 72 hours before departure
“The French government has specified that, from 18 January, only PCR tests will be accepted for entry to France.
Arrivals will also be required to self-isolate for seven days on arrival, before taking another PCR test.”
It adds: “Arrivals from the UK will need to complete both a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight, and a signed ‘travel certificate’ (attestation), confirming their reason for travel.”
Britons are also warned to be “prepared to stay overseas longer than planned.”
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
Until March 5, the Italian government is restricting entry into the country.
Only those with official residency or those with absolute necessity, which must be declared in writing, are permitted to enter.
“Until 5 March, those wishing to fly must present the airline with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken no more than 72 hours before entry into Italy,” warns the FCDO website.
“You must also take a COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test within 48 hours of entering Italy – arrivals by air from the UK will take this test at the airport.
“Whatever the result of the two swab tests, those arriving in Italy from the UK must also report to their local health authorities on arrival and self-isolate for 14 days.”
Arrivals will also need to download and complete a “self-declaration” form.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Germany based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
The German government has restricted air and sea travel into Germany.
Travellers from the UK may only enter the country if they are travelling to their place of residence, if they “serve in an important role” or if they have an “urgent need”.
“Travellers arriving in Germany who have been in the UK in the preceding 10 days must present a negative COVID-19 test to border officials whilst entering Germany,” states the FCDO travel advice page.
“Airline passengers will have to present their negative test at the start of their journey.
“The result can be in either paper or electronic form. The test must have been taken less than 48 hours before entry to Germany. Children aged five or under are exempt from the test requirement.
“Even with a negative test, travellers will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days following arrival in Germany, with the possibility of test and release after five days in some areas.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is currently advising against all but essential travel to Greece based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
The FCDO is not advising against travel to the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete.
“If you are arriving in the UK from Greece or the islands of Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes, Zakynthos on or after 4am on 18 January you will need to self-isolate on your arrival, unless you have a valid exemption,” states the FCDO website.
It continues: “UK nationals are permitted to enter Greece if they are a permanent resident in the UK, Greece, another EU/EFA state, or in one of the following countries; Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UAE.
“If you’re a British national who resides in another country, not listed above, you’re likely to be refused entry to Greece due to measures put in place by the Greek authorities to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Britons who travel to Greece will need to complete a “Passenger Locator Form” at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
failure to do so may result in being denied travel or a €500 fine on arrival
“All arrivals into Greece need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, undertaken within the 72 hour period before your time of arrival into Greece,” states the FCDO.
“Anyone entering Greece from the UK will also be asked to undergo a rapid test for COVID-19 on arrival.
“Arrivals from the UK are currently required to self-isolate for seven days in the event of a negative test result.
“In the event of a positive test result, travellers will have to isolate for at least 14 days.
“In either case, travellers will need to undertake a further PCR test at the end of their period of self-isolation.