The UK government’s red list for international travel has shrunk to just seven countries, prompting a surge in bookings for newly accessible holiday destinations.
From today, a further 47 destinations were bumped up to the “rest of world” (ROW) list, meaning travellers arriving in the UK from there face lighter restrictions.
These included tourism favourites Mexico, Thailand and South Africa, along with all previously red-listed nations in Africa, Asia and Europe.
The seven places remaining on the red list are all in Latin America: Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Venezuela.
Travellers arriving from red countries must pay upwards of £2,000 to spend 10 days (11 nights) in a government-mandated quarantine hotel facility.
Fully vaccinated people arriving from ROW countries have only to take a PCR test within two days of entering the country. However, those arriving into the UK who are not fully jabbed must take a pre-departure test and a day eight PCR test in addition, plus quarantine for 10 days.
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75% of summer 2022 UK bookings are made by Brits, bookings website finds
Research by a rentals management website has found that 76 per cent of summer 2022 bookings for short-term rentals in the UK have been made by the Brits - indicating that the trend of domestic travel may continue into next year.
The research by rentals platform Guesty also showed that 81 per cent more short-term and vacation UK rental reservations for have been made for summer 2022, compared to the same period in 2020, `booking for summer 2021.
“As we get closer to summer 2022 in the UK, Guesty expects prices to rise. Consumers should book now to save and take advantage of less restrictive cancellation policies should they need to later.
“When booking travel, consumers should look for properties with flexible cancellation policies (such as free cancellation and no pre-payment terms), as guidelines and restrictions continue to fluctuate,” read the report from the platform.
Singapore launches travel pass for fully vaccinated UK travellers
Singapore will open a ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)’ for travellers from the UK effective from 19 October 2021 - essentially, an air corridor allowing double vaccinated Britons.
From this date, British travellers who have had both jabs will be able to enter Singapore with a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP), which they must apply for at least a week in advance.
Applications for the VTPs will open on 12 October 2021 at 3am BST.
“The travel pass will allow visitors entry into Singapore without the requirement to undergo the usual 10-day quarantine. Requests to obtain the Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) must be made between 7 and 30 calendar days prior to travellers’ intended date of entry into Singapore and applications can be made via the SafeTravel website,” reads a statement from Singapore Tourism.
Cape Verde ‘most-booked’ destination following removal from red list
A holiday price-comparison site is reporting that Cape Verde, which exited the red list at 4am on Monday, is the most booked destination.
Emma Coulthurst of TravelSupermarket said: “The announcement means that the world has opened up with just a few exceptions rather than the complete opposite state of play.”
Mexico – in particular the Caribbean coast from the resort of Cancun south – is the other stand-out.
“The changes to travel will still take a while for some people to get their heads around,” said Ms Coulthurst.
“Many people in the UK have got out of the habit of travelling and haven’t taken the plunge yet. Or are still worried about travelling due to everything that has happened in the last year and a half.”
Heathrow PCR test certified within 103 minutes
One of the most challenging aspects of meeting complex international travel rules is meeting the destination’s stipulations on PCR testing within a certain number of hours – usually 48 or 72 – before arrival.
With the UK experiencing some of the highest Covid infection levels in the world, you can scarcely criticise the governments of the places we yearn to visit.
The Royal College of Pathologists, which produces an excellent guide to the various Covid-19 tests says “PCR tests can detect very tiny amounts of RNA, meaning they are extremely sensitive. They are the best test for current infection.”
Yet some passengers have missed flights and lost hundreds of pounds as a result of test results arriving too late. Complying with these deadlines can also involve making extra journeys ahead of the trip.
Now passengers using Heathrow can avail of a promised three-hour turnaround – making it feasible (except for early flights) to build in the test as part of the airport process.
I tried out the Collinson service ahead of a trip to Jordan, one of many destinations demanding a negative PCR test result within 72 hours. The location is not especially convenient for the terminal: it is a car park at Cardinal Point, on the perimeter road at the northeast of the airport. Many London buses serve the location – Harlington Corner – from Hounslow West tube station or Hayes & Harlington bus station, as well as the airport itself.
You make an appointment online, though the system does not demand exact compliance with the time you book. After you present your passport, you are assigned a curtained booth where a nurse swabs the back of your throat and deep into your nose. Trust me, if there were any traces of Covid RNA lurking in any cavity the highly professional nurse who conducted my test would have found them.
The second best thing about the experience is the price. Airport PCR tests are notoriously expensive (a six-hour turnaround at Newcastle will set you back £235). But the £95 list price was reduced by one-fifth to £76 because, as a British Airways passenger, I could use the BA20OFF code to save £19.
And the best thing? Having tested at 7.37am, the result was with me by 9.20am. Thanks to the on-site laboratory, the turnaround was just 103 minutes. In less time than it takes to fly to Frankfurt, I had my precious certificate – and, thanks to the simple online system that the Jordanian government uses, it was uploaded a few minutes later – and in seconds I became the owner of my first Jordanian QR code.
India to reopen to tourists from 15 October
India is set to allow foreign tourists back into the country from later this week, changing its Covid-related travel restrictions to grant new tourist visas to certain arrivals.
The country’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced that visas will initially be granted only to travellers arriving on chartered flights from 15 October, before being extended to those arriving on commercial flights from 15 November.
Those mid-October arrivals will be the first tourists into the country in 19 months.
Read the full story:
Initial opening date only applies to travellers arriving on chartered flights
Destination officials welcome red list removals
Tourism officials from the UK’s most popular winter sun destinations have welcomed today’s changes to the red list, which saw 47 countries moved off the highest-risk travel category.
“We are delighted that the UK government is no longer advising against all but essential travel to Jamaica and we are very much looking forward to welcoming back our UK visitors safely and seamlessly to our vibrant shores,” said Jamaica’s tourism minister Edmund Bartlett.
“British visitors, who are incredibly important to us, can expect a very warm and friendly Jamaican welcome and now is an amazing time to visit.”
Jamal Kilito of the Moroccan National Tourism Office (MNTO) said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, we are looking forward to welcoming travellers to Morocco where they can enjoy a truly exceptional tourism experience with peace of mind.
“With secure health and safety measures in place, we are confident that we can rebuild our tourism industry and provide travellers with the warm Moroccan welcome they have always enjoyed and we encourage as many visitors as possible to rediscover this magnificent destination.”
Meanwhile, the Seychelles’s tourism minister Sylvestre Radegonde said: “Moving off the UK red list is another important milestone in the recovery of the Seychelles tourism industry and it will provide a boost to the destination as well as its airlines and its travel industry partners.
“We are delighted to welcome back our British visitors, the families and honeymooners back to our beautiful islands.
“With the health and safety protocols adopted by tourism operators and establishments who have received official Covid-19 safe certification, our visitors are assured of a safe and enjoyable holiday.”
Where to find autumn sun on the ROW list
Following today’s dramatic cutting of the UK’s red list for travel, autumn and winter holiday bookings are on the up.
With many Brits missing out on a summer sun holiday due to fears around traffic light list changes and prohibitively expensive testing, this will be the first holiday of the year for many.
But where should you go for a reliable burst of sun as we move into late autumn?
Here are six of the best October and November sun traps to look into - from glam five-star resorts in the UAE to still-balmy Spanish islands.
Read the full story here:
Lots of us missed out on a summer holiday this year. Lucy Thackray picks the top ROW-list suntraps for a balmy escape into October and November
Morocco officially recognises UK vaccination proof for travel
The UK has updated its official travel advice to state that vaccinated Brits can use their NHS Covid Pass to gain entry into Morocco.
Prior to this, despite the wide acceptance of the UK’s vaccination proof at the border, there was no official clarity on entry requirements for Morocco.
The Foreign Office advice now states: “Morocco will accept the UK’s proof of Covid-19 recovery and vaccination record at the border.”
Jamal Kilito, Moroccan National Tourism Office director for UK & Ireland, said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, we are looking forward to welcoming travellers to the Kingdom of Morocco where they can enjoy a truly exceptional tourism experience with peace of mind. With secure health and safety measures in place, we are confident that we can rebuild our tourism industry and provide travellers with the warm Moroccan welcome they have always enjoyed and we encourage as many visitors as possible to rediscover this magnificent destination”.
Simon Calder answers readers’ travel questions
The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, has answered our readers most pressing questions in his weekly Q&A.
From timings of travel testing to red list reshuffles, from when US travel will open up to EU passport rules, Simon has tackled a breadth of queries to help British holidaymakers navigate this brave new world.
Read all the latest answers below:
When might the US open to British visitors?
What are the new rules for travel?
The UK’s complex rules for international travellers have changed significantly during October.
A new regime of regulations, all about “the jabbed and the jabbed-nots,” came into effect on 4 October.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.
“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”
Click below for our explainer on all the key questions and answers:
Travellers regarded by the UK as fully vaccinated – which includes under-18s who live here – will encounter less red tape and expense
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