Real beach time is finally here for Britons eager to escape this summer, and it's great news for tourism-dependent spots such as the Caribbean, Malta, and the Balearics. But with the traffic light system potentially changing at any time, it isn't likely to boost consumer confidence for international travel.
Unlike more than a month ago, the UK is finally reopening non-essential travel for Britons to a larger number of accessible, popular summer vacation choices.
These include a large swatch of Caribbean islands that are Briton favorites: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands — as well as Malta, Madeira, and Spain’s Balearic Islands.
The UK initially rolled out its first green light list on May 7 of destinations that can Britons can travel to on vacation or non-essential trips and return without fear of any quarantine. At that point, disappointment echoed widely as the list included a a number of remote destinations but excluded popular spots such as the U.S. and Malta despite their high vaccination rates.
Still absent from the UK green list? The U.S., even as the UK government faces fresh legal action from airlines over its decision to prolong stringent travel restrictions that are crippling the industry.
But before travelers could book and rejoice too quickly about the wider set of destinations, the UK government indicated that these destinations were also being placed on a separate “green watchlist,” which means they could move from green to amber on the UK’s safety traffic light system for travel if the situation requires it.
Virginia Messina, senior vice president at the World Travel & Tourism Council, said in a statement that the UK decision to ease restrictions was positive news for those struggling tourism sectors.
“However, all but Malta have been placed on the so-called ‘green watchlist’, which will cause further confusion for holidaymakers and dampen demand,” said Messina.
The travel industry has expressed frustration at the UK’s lack of specificity on reopening travel for fully vaccinated travelers, like its European Union neighbors have, and the delayed lifting of quarantines for fully vaccinated Britons, which would allow the airline and tourism sectors to prepare and boost their recoveries.
Protests took place days ago as every sector of the UK travel industry showed up to demand that the government reopen international borders as well as provide financial support.
Meanwhile, the response is a positive one from hard-hit tourism industries in the Caribbean for whom the UK is a key market.
“We’re delighted that Grenada has been included on the UK’s green list for holidaymakers and the travel and tourism sector alike,” said Clarice Modeste Curwen, minister of tourism and civil aviation for Grenada in a statement, noting that the country has had just 161 cases of Covid since March 2020 and 90 percent of its tourism staff are fully vaccinated.
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Photo credit: Britons will have the option of the Caribbean and Spanish islands this summer, but they're more likely to stick close to Europe. Tony Hisgett / Flickr Commons