A surge of pent-up holiday demand is set to be unleashed today when the Government reveals the first countries to make its “green” list, allowing quarantine-free travel from later this month.
British holidaymakers are expected to be allowed to visit only a handful of destinations when the ban on international travel lifts on May 17, with Portugal, Malta and Israel due to make the cut.
Details on which countries will make the “green” list on the new traffic light system, and which “amber”, meaning quarantine will be required on return, is expected in a Downing Street press conference at 5pm.
Emma Coulthurst, a spokesperson for TravelSupermarket, said the holiday comparison site had already begun to see increases in search for those countries mooted to be on the list. The Government has taken a country's infection rates, vaccine progress and genomic sequencing capacity into account.
“There are some really good prices at the moment if people are happy with the terms and conditions for the package holiday and decide to go ahead and book,” she said.
“Once the green list is announced, there will be an anticipated increase in demand for those destinations on the list and, depending on demand levels, prices may go up.”
Scroll down for the latest updates
Who is on the red list?
The 'red' list is the only one of the three we know for sure.
These are the countries from which you will be denied entry to the UK, or forced into hotel quarantine. The Foreign Office says:
"If you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK , you will be able to enter. You must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days."
Democratic Republic of the Congo
United Arab Emirates ( UAE )
In pictures: Has spring really sprung?
'There is huge pent-up demand for international travel'
Marriott International is expecting a surge in bookings following the release of the “green” list today, the hotel group’s head of marketing has said.
Neal Jones told Telegraph Travel:
“We are eagerly anticipating today’s expected announcement that international travel corridors are likely to be put in place for UK travellers later this month. “We know that there is huge pent-up demand for international travel, and we saw how resilient the leisure traveller was through our incredible portfolio of resort hotels in Europe last year. “When travel corridors were announced we had considerable spikes in UK booking activity, the Canary Islands were a great example of this. When the travel corridor from the UK to the Canaries was announced in October, our booked room nights increased by 161% compared to the previous month.”
The group has more than 8,000 properties around the world.
Cost of summer holidays will not soar, says Tui boss
Prices for summer breaks have not been ramped up ahead of the Government's announcement of the green travel list, the UK's largest holiday firm insisted.
Tui's managing director for the UK and Ireland, Andrew Flintham, said it will be "a long time" before travel companies can consider boosting profit margins.
He told BBC Breakfast: "Our prices are very, very stable. They're pretty much like for like, flat, year over year. There isn't a big increase in there. We've got plenty of holidays to sell. I think everybody in the industry has.
"It'll be a long time before the idea of trying to increase prices to make more money. We want to get people away on holiday, having a great time, because we think they genuinely all deserve it."
This morning Booking.com's chief executive Glenn Fogel told the BBC that holiday "prices are already going up".
'We can't afford to lose this place'
Reuters has just published a fascinating take on the impact of coronavirus on South Africa's museums, including the Apartheid Museum.
Here are some choice quotes:
A pair of boxing gloves worn by Nelson Mandela at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa lie under a thick layer of dust in a darkened room, the silence broken only by the thud of moths nose-diving onto the glass display case.
The gloves were once one of the most popular exhibits at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, one of dozens of heritage attractions and art galleries around the country forced to close their doors due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We had to let go of all of the staff. About 30 people. There's no one here to turn the lights on and off," said the museum's director, Christopher Till.
He used his mobile phone as a torch to show some of the hundreds of artworks and artefacts illustrating the history of the long struggle against white minority rule.
"We can't afford to lose this place," he said.
Before the pandemic, the museum was recording up to 1,000 visitors a day, most of them foreign tourists. Like other cultural institutions, it had to shut down in March 2020 when South Africa imposed its first COVID-19 lockdown.
The museum reopened in January 2021, but having sold no tickets for 10 months and with visitor numbers very low due to the ongoing outbreak, it was too cash-strapped to operate and shut down again in March.
7 ways to guarantee a successful getaway this summer
Our resident consumer expert Nick Trend has issued his decree on how to book a holiday this year.
One of his seven golden rules is...
If you can’t be flexible, err towards the later part of the summer
It seems most likely that the later you travel this year, the better your chance of having a holiday free of restrictions. With this in mind, there have been plenty of reports of people looking to book for October instead of July or August. That is quite late for guaranteed sunshine in Europe.
If you do need, or want, to commit in advance then September is looking like a better month to combine green travel status with decent weather. And, if you have children, then the latter part of August is probably the best option in the school holidays. Nothing is guaranteed - last summer, those who travelled early got in before new restrictions started to hit. But if you are playing the odds, then later is probably better this year.
US set to open to British travellers
Paul Charles, who has closely followed the ebb and flow of the "green" list, says the US will announce a reciprocal agreement with the UK later today. The CEO of travel consultancy PC Agency tweeted:
Hong Kong cuts quarantine time
Some news from further afield, courtesy of Reuters, on Hong Kong and its quarantine requirements, which are some of the strictest in the world.
Hong Kong authorities said on Friday residents who have been fully vaccinated can spend a shorter time in quarantine if they have been exposed to a Covid-19 patient, after thousands of people were sent to tiny quarantine quarters for up to 21 days.
The new rule comes as the city government is trying to encourage people to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
Ronald Lam, controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the city's Department of Health, said fully vaccinated residents considered a close contact of a patient can do seven days in government quarantine and seven days of self-monitoring at home.
But people exposed to a virus variant would have to do 14 days in quarantine and seven days of self-monitoring, he said. A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second of two vaccinations.
When will we be able to visit Europe?
Taken from our guide to those countries set to miss out on the 'green' list today (most of Europe), we touch on the timeline for the EU's reopening to British travellers:
Will the EU open all at once?
Yes, but not necessarily to Britons.
The European Union has agreed to reopen “by the start of June” to vaccinated travellers from countries with a “good health situation”, likely with the use of the bloc’s Digital Green Certificate (DGC), a vaccine passport. The app, which will have a paper option, is still in development but has been agreed by EU members as the best way to kickstart the continent’s tourism industry.
While the UK is likely to be on the EU’s “green” list, such is our vaccine progress and low case rate, it does not mean all EU countries will make our green list. Sweden and Croatia, for example, have case rates more than 13 times the UK; given the Government’s caution it would not open the doors without closer scrutiny to such a situation.
BA owners announce £1bn loss
Some more on the IAG figures published this morning from our business desk.
British Airways-owner IAG reported a €1.2bn (£1bn) pre-tax loss for the three months to the end of March as the pandemic restricted travel, and forecast only a small rise in capacity to 25pc for the April-June quarter.
Flying at just 20pc capacity in the three months to the end of March resulted in the group posting the operating loss before exceptional items of €1.14bn, slightly better than the City had forecast.
Of what the Government could do to support the aviation industry, IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said travel corridors without restrictions; affordable and simple testing; contactless border controls and digital vaccination and testing passports were required.
Mr Gallego added: "These measures will enable a safe re-opening of our skies. Travel underpins a global industry that supports 13 million jobs in Europe alone.
"There's a high level of pent-up demand and aviation will play a critical role in reconnecting people and getting economies back up and running again."
The Greatful Eight
Telegraph Travel understands that eight countries will make the UK's 'green' list today, but not all of those will be open to British holidaymakers.
The eight are:
Cost of flights to most popular holiday destinations rockets
The cost of flights to some of the most popular holiday destinations rocketed on Thursday night ahead of the government's announcement of its travel "green list".
Charles Hymas reports:
Prices for flights to Portugal's resorts more than doubled in two days after suggestions that it could be included on the quarantine-free "green list" when the ban on foreign travel is lifted on May 17.
British Airways was on Thursday night charging £530 for a flight from Heathrow to the Algarve on May 17, compared with £234 for the same route two days earlier.
A Ryanair flight from Stansted to Portugal's capital Lisbon on May 17 was £152, compared with £15 on May 16. And EasyJet was charging £234 for a flight from Luton to the Algarve on May 17, when it had been just £73 the previous day.
"People are gambling on the country being rated green, knowing that they can rearrange their flights until the assessment changes, or accept the fact that it is amber and that they have to quarantine on their return," said an industry source.
NYC wants to offer tourists Times Square vaccines
New York City wants to begin offering coronavirus inoculations to tourists by stationing vaccination vans at Times Square and other attractions.
Mayor Bill De Blasio called it "a positive message to tourists: 'Come here. It's safe, it's a great place to be and we're going to take care of you."'
In the USA, each state is responsible for distributing vaccines and has its own vaccination plan.
The UK Foreign Office says: "Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live."
Spotlight: Why Portugal is in contention for the green list
The country has ground down its cases to make itself a possible holiday option from May 17.
This graphic illustrates how well Portugal has done to recover from a second spike.
BA owners expect just 25% capacity this summer and calls for US corridor
British Airways-owner IAG on Friday forecast only a minimal pick-up in capacity to 25 per cent for the April to June quarter, remaining cautious despite hopes that European travel will start to recover from late May onwards.
The rise to 25% of 2019's capacity puts IAG's plans behind those of competitor airlines, and compares to the 19.6% of capacity that it flew in the January to March quarter as the coronavirus pandemic continued to restrict travel. IAG also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus.
IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said in a statement the airline was "ready to fly but government action is needed".
He called for travel corridors to open between countries with high vaccination rates, such as the United Kingdom and the United States.
IAG's capacity plans put it behind Air France-KLM, which said on Thursday it expects to operate 50% of its pre-pandemic flight capacity in the second quarter.
Lufthansa last week cut its capacity to forecast to about 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity for 2021. European airlines hope that by July, much of the continent will be open for travel, meaning bookings will rise and they can ramp up capacity to start repairing their COVID-19 battered finances.
France, Spain and Italy set to miss out
The holiday big-hitters, including Spain, France and Italy, are set to miss out on the 'green' list today, as Telegraph Travel understands it.
The most popular options with British travellers will sit on the 'amber' list, meaning holidaymakers will have to quarantine for up to 10 days on return. Many will be open to Britons once the EU begins using its vaccine passport on June.
The only chance for Spain to be on the list in any form at this point, would be if the Government added either or both of the Canary or Balearic Islands. This is also true of Greece, which could see its islands in the Aegean added to the list ahead of the mainland.
See here for more information on those countries on the cusp of the green list.
What is the traffic light system anyway?
A traffic light system that has long been in the pipeline is finally expected today, but what is it?
A big day for British holidaymakers today as the Government is expected to announce its green list.
Elsewhere, the biggest stories to keep an eye on today:
Holidaymakers could need paper Covid vaccine certificates
No test required for holiday to Gibraltar
Tourism bosses call for extra bank holiday
Tests cost more than the average short-haul flight, says trade body
Madeira to offer free departure tests to all visitors