Operators ‘baffled by red list rationale’

More Latin America and Africa specialists have have criticised the UK government’s decision not to move more countries off the red list, describing the process as “baffling and frustrating”.

Eight countries were removed from the red list on September 22, including long-haul destinations the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Their removal came ahead of the start of a revised traffic light system for England from October 4. Amber and green lists will be abolished and all destinations will be classified as either on the red list or ‘open’. Travellers returning from red list countries will need to quarantine.

Immediately after the announcement, Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association, warned of a “jobs bloodbath” with furlough ending this month.

He added: “How the hell are long‑haul operators supposed to trade their way out of trouble?”

And other operators and trade associations echoed his frustration and questioned the rationale for leaving countries such as Chile and South Africa on the red list amid fears about the survival of some suppliers.

Martyn Sumners, executive director of The Specialist Travel Association (Aito), said: “Aito is obviously disappointed that once again whole continents like Africa and South America continue to be ignored.

“We’d like to hear an explanation of why this continues to be the case as there is no transparency.”

Many destinations on the red list have “excellent vaccination programmes” and other European countries have already opened their doors to allow travel to them, he said.

Sunvil Latin America programme director Lloyd Boutcher said: “It feels like the lobbying requests have fallen on deaf ears. Chile’s vaccination programme is further ahead than the UK so why are these countries not being considered, yet you can travel to India? I’m baffled.”

Latin Routes director Martin Johnson said more clarity was needed on the criteria for the red list, warning: “There is now a big jump from ‘green’ to red status. If that starts to happen regularly, it could really undermine everyone’s confidence.”

African Pride director David Holland said forward bookings were “pretty good” but stressed: “In the short term we all need revenue and income.”

Photo: marchello74/

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