The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) is calling for a phased restart to international travel, allowing for holidaymakers to access islands with low infection rates first.

Joanne Dooey, president of the 120-member trade organisation, believes testing, vaccine certificates and travel corridors can be used to resume operations.

She suggested some island destinations with high vaccination levels and low infection rates could be opened up sooner than destinations facing a spike in Covid cases, like much of mainland Europe currently.

Dooey said: “Travel agents are naturally keen for international travel to start once again, however, our industry is aware that the appearance of new variants and a third wave across Europe makes establishing a date, or a plan, for this difficult.

“We’d like the governments to remember that people travel for many reasons and not just for summer holidays. People want to travel to visit family they haven’t seen for over a year and international travel will be will be key to economic recovery for Scotland, meaning the return of business travel is crucial.

“However, we’re more confident now that both Scottish and UK governments are seriously considering how a phased return to international travel can be effected using a combination of testing, vaccine certificates, corridors and bridges.”

The UK government’s Global Travel Taskforce is due to report on when international travel will resume on April 12. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned it is “unlikely” travel will resume from May 17, the earliest possible date suggested by Boris Johnson last month.

But doubts over foreign holidays in early summer emerged over the weekend as a government minister and scientists warns rising infection levels in Europe could make holidays by May 17 “extremely unlikely”.

Dooey added: “A phased return could see the reopening of some destinations – for example some island destinations where vaccination levels are high and virus levels low. There will be a time-line for reopening gradually and we’re certainly not pinning our hopes on one definitive diary date when all international travel restrictions will be lifted.

“People can still book holidays, but we advise only booking with a travel agent who will guide you through the most flexible options and ensure your holiday, and the money you have invested in it, is secure as things continue to evolve.”