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Portugal prices plummet after green list removal

Prices for a summer holidays to Portugal have plummeted after the country was relegated from the government’s green list for non-quarantine travel

Search data from TravelSupermarket shows the cost for departures in July or August from the UK to Portugal fell by 64% following last Thursday’s announcement.

Comparing the week before and after the government’s announcement, clicks on holidays to the country dropped by 85%.

Seven-night packages for a families during the school holidays to destinations such as Portugal, which the Foreign Office says people can travel to but for with amber quarantine restrictions in place, are available from as little as £180 per person.

Rates have also fallen to the Canary, Balearic and Greek islands as well as the Spanish mainland and many city break destinations on the amber list.

However, the average cost of holidays to Jersey have risen by 27% in July and August compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the price comparison site.

Emma Coulthurst, from TravelSupermarket, said the government’s recent decisions on travel are having an understandable impact on consumer demand and price.

“Prices are often the most expensive at the start of the school holidays as people are itching to get away as soon as they can,” she said.

“This year, they are some of the cheapest due to the current confusion and chaos over how the traffic light system is implemented.

“It would, in normal times, be fairly hard to find a seven-night package holiday during the summer school holidays from under £300pp,” she added.

“You can understand why it has got to the point where foreign holidays from the UK during this period are available from under £200pp.

“The industry has many holidays to sell. Yet, the government’s failure last week to follow its own traffic light system and offer a watch list and base its decisions on countries’ data – for example, Malta has a lower coronavirus rate than the UK and has more of its population vaccinated – has created a lack of clarity for holidaymakers.

“Also, many people do not want to or are unable to self-isolate.”

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice is that holidays are allowed to the Canary Islands, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Zante, Malta and Portugal, with amber restrictions to be followed on return.

However, Coulthurst said: “Many government ministers continue to say that amber list countries are not for holidays. Yet, the government’s own Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advice is that it is safe to holiday in a number of countries including Portugal and the Canaries. This needs to be made clearer. It is not fair on the industry or holidaymakers.

“Clearly, for many who have to go out to work, self-isolation isn’t viable. But, with the higher cost of living in the UK and high demand making many holidays in the UK expensive, some people who can work from home may choose to go to an FCDO-approved amber country.

“Countries with similar or lower virus rates than the UK and good vaccination rates such as Malta and the Canaries offer much lower holiday prices, eating out costs and predictable weather.

“The government also said it would look at doing something to reduce testing costs across the board.

“If France can provide free PCR tests for travel to its citizens and Greece, a country which has had many economic struggles, can cap PCR tests at €40 (£35) for its citizens, why can’t the UK do something similar?

“Thank goodness for some of the great Industry initiatives. But the government still needs to do more to bring testing costs down across the board. High prices and the poor ability to navigate the options on the gov.uk website is naturally putting some travellers off.”

The next green list announcements are expected before June 28, July 19 and August 9.

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