Industry reaction to the government’s addition of the Balearics, Malta, Madeira and a handful of Caribbean islands to the green list of destinations open to travel was mixed.
Sean Doyle, chief executive of British Airways, welcomed the additions but said: “It’s essential we get travel back up and running as soon as possible. We cannot afford another missed summer and we cannot afford the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.
“Plans to allow vaccinated travellers to move freely this summer are critical and we urge the government to work urgently with the aviation industry to get these in place.”
Doyle added: “We would like to understand whether this means customers will benefit from reduced or eradicated costly testing procedures.
“A change in the FCDO [Foreign Office] advice to allow people to travel to amber list countries will be critical.”
However, Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Wratten described the announcements as “bitterly disappointing”.
He said: “The government is cutting off British businesses and causing further damage to our economy.
“The failure to update on the progress of the Transatlantic Taskforce shows the government’s lack of understanding of the dire straits the travel industry is facing.
“We remain in virtual lockdown. Targeted financial support must be offered to protect jobs and companies across the industry.”
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren argued: “We welcome the addition of Malta, Madeira and the Balearics to the green list, [but] this is still not the safe and sustainable reopening of travel the government promised.
“The science shows travel to many European countries would have very little impact on hospitalisations, with many countries having lower infection rates than the UK.
“With two thirds of UK adults expected to be double jabbed by July 19, now is the time to let British citizens take advantage of the success of the vaccination programme. The timetable set out by the government simply isn’t ambitious enough. What we are waiting for?
“Europe already has a plan to enable restriction free travel for the double jabbed.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, noted: “Any extension of the green list is welcome, but we have to be realistic.
“This is not the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic.”
She welcomed confirmation that the government would allow fully vaccinated travellers to travel to amber countries without quarantine restrictions from some point “later in the same”.
But Dee said: “We urge the government to publish details on its plans and implement them as soon as possible to save what remains of the summer season.
“In the meantime, the government should recompense aviation for the impact of that approach through significant sector-specific support. Many jobs in aviation and travel continue to be at risk.”
Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) president Joanne Dooey said: “Any destination going on the green list is welcome. The Balearic Islands are one of the most popular destinations for Scots. The additional Caribbean destinations are also good news.
“Travel agents can hope for a surge in bookings as the schools break up.
“Being able to travel to amber countries if you’ve been double vaccinated is the next positive move we need. We need to bring back customer confidence that holidays can be booked now.”
Authorities in the Balearics obviously greeted the announcement warmly.
Susana Mora, president of Menorca, said: “This long-awaited and very positive news is extremely important to us. Menorca is ready to welcome back British tourists with the highest safety standards. We are today one of the safest destinations in Spain and Europe.”
Palma Tourist Board manager Pedro Homar added: “We are delighted to see Mallorca and the rest of the Balearic Islands finally added to the British government’s ‘green watch list’ and we are looking forward to British visitors being able to visit us again without having to quarantine on their return.
“The UK is one of our main tourism markets and the last year has been very challenging with many of our hoteliers and tourism businesses relying on UK visitors.
“In Palma, we feel a sense of relief with today’s news. We are reading and waiting with open arms.”
Holiday Extras has updated its ‘ Green Green Green list’, which includes destinations that are not only UK government-approved, but open to visitors and can be reached by British travellers without connections via airports on the red or amber lists.
It now includes 11 destinations: Antigua and Barbuda, Spain’s Balearic Islands, Barbados, Gibraltar, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Jersey, Madeira (Portugal), Malta and the Turks and Caicos islands.
Head of communications Seamus McCauley said: “The updates to the green list are a step in the right direction, and it’s good to see our government finally acknowledging some of the countries that should have been added to the green list three or in some cases six weeks ago – but it’s no good having countries on the list that won’t let us in, or that have entry requirements that make it hard to enjoy your holiday.
“For travellers to fully experience a hassle-free break, the destination needs to be green to go, green to come back and green to fly there.”