Tui will take UK customers on holiday to destinations categorised amber under the traffic light system for international travel, chief executive Fritz Joussen has confirmed.
Joussen insisted it is not for the Tui Group to “tell customers they can’t go” to amber destinations.
The UK government has removed its ban on non-essential overseas travel from Monday, May 17.
But just 12 destinations are designated green, allowing travel without having to self-isolate on return, and Portugal is the only major destination on the list.
Most countries are categorised as amber, requiring quarantine at home on returning along with several Covid-19 tests.
However, with leisure travel no longer illegal, many travel companies are selling amber destinations in expectation that restrictions will be relaxed in future and that Foreign Office (FCDO) advice will allow non-essential travel to at least some amber countries.
The FCDO currently does not advise against travel to some amber destinations, including the Canaries and several Greek islands.
Joussen said: “We are not a business to tell people they can’t go. We’re a business to follow the rules and to serve customers.
“If a customer comes to the conclusion they want to go, who are we to say?”
He argued: “No one can say we don’t put safety first. When you put a country to amber you put a lot of obligations on the customer – a lot of tests and quarantine. It’s a burden to the customer.
“When a customer says ‘I have a home in Spain, I want to go’, you say OK.”
Joussen insisted: “When it is amber you have a choice. We serve choice.
“We are serving customer demand for amber countries.”
Speaking as Tui reported half year results to the end of March, Joussen was critical of the restricted opening from the UK.
He said: “The UK is a little bit of an obstacle. Vaccination is high, incidence is very low, but the country is very cautious.”
UK bookings for Portugal are now so high, Tui has switched Boeing Dreamliners to the routes instead of smaller Boeing 737s, he said.
But Joussen added: “Maybe this will change in the next few weeks otherwise people in Europe will all make a vacation except in the UK.
“People assume that for July [travel] will be more possible. There is logic that when everybody else opens then Brits will think it is a good idea. We hope the UK will catch up.”