Hopes soar that sun-starved Brits could jet off to European hotspots including France, Spain and Italy this summer
SUN-starved Brits will find out in early May where they can jet to on holiday — with hopes soaring that European hotspots will be open this summer.
PM Boris Johnson could grant their wishes when he reveals which countries are Covid-secure for tourists under the “traffic lights” system.
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Greece said yesterday it will welcome jabbed and tested Brits from next week.
EasyJet is readying its mothballed aircraft and boss Johan Lundgren believes France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey will make the “green light” list in the next few months.
He told The Sun: “Summer can really take off this year.
“I wouldn’t see a reason why you wouldn’t have the majority of the countries of Europe in there.
“It is important that the Government comes out with this list as soon as possible. This is the main question for most of our customers right now.”
Travel agents also welcomed the news. Abta said there is “massive pent-up demand” for flights, hotels and apartments.
Boris has earmarked May 17 for the potential return of international travel.
And yesterday Aviation Minister Robert Courts confirmed the list of approved destinations will be released early next month.
He cautioned: “I’d advise people to wait until they understand which category each country falls into, because there is of course that risk of disappointment.
“It wouldn’t be right for me to speculate as to which countries in which areas of the world are likely to be on which list.”
Experts will base their decisions on how much of the country’s population has been jabbed, rates of infection, new variants, and access to reliable scientific data.
Arrivals from “green” countries will not quarantine but will have to take a PCR test within two days.
Passengers from “amber” countries will need to quarantine for ten days and take two tests.
Arrivals from “red” locations will continue to face the mandatory stay in a quarantine hotel.
Thomas Cook chief Alan French added: “We all deserve a break after everything we’ve been through in the past 12 months.
“We are poised and ready to help people rush to the beach.”
His firm’s data shows a quarter of workers are preparing to book a holiday as soon as the Government announces the new rules.
And more than half are saving up their annual leave allowance to use on a trip abroad later this year.
Virgin Atlantic is already seeing bookings for US hotspots Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando.
Israel, with its world-leading jab rates, is also popular.
BA chief Sean Doyle said a UK/USA corridor could “lead the way” in reopening international travel.
Jet2, the UK’s second largest tour operator, has cancelled all trips until June 28.
But boss Steve Heapy said: “We expect a huge surge in demand to green list destinations. Sunnier skies are most certainly ahead.”
Obstacles still remain before the industry gets full lift-off.
Mark Tanzer, of Abta, told the Commons Transport Select Committee the Government’s plan for reopening foreign travel “is overcautious and doesn’t recognise the huge change that vaccination has created”. The industry has also taken issue with the use of expensive PCR tests for UK arrivals.
Randox is slashing the cost to around £60 but many companies still charge more than £120.
Mr Tanzer said: “Certainly for the green category, the PCR test is a sledgehammer to crack a nut really.
“We’d like to have no testing, but in the short term allow a cheaper, faster test, and if that were positive then you can proceed to a PCR test if necessary.
“Otherwise you are going to hobble the industry and you are going to stop people from travelling, even though they’ve been vaccinated. They’ll say
‘Well I’ve been through the vaccination process, you wanted me to get vaccinated, and actually nothing’s changed from last year’.
“So you’ve got a job explaining that to customers.”
Last month arrivals at Heathrow told of six-hour queues to process paperwork. Passengers have to fill in a locator form saying where they have been.
Anyone without a valid reason for travel can face a £5,000 fine.
Heathrow’s Chris Garton said: “Our biggest issue in terms of the summer particularly is the performance at the border.
“We need to see a dramatic improvement if we are to increase passenger numbers.”
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