An Update on Amber Countries

Our CEO, Sonia Davies, shares her views following the UK Government’s update regarding travel to amber destinations.

A very big step forward just confirmed by Grant Shapps, with the removal of the 10-day quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber destinations from 19th July. 

Our government has talked about being led by the science and the data. The data shows that those who are fully vaccinated (from 2 weeks after their second dose) are statistically significantly less likely to a) contract Covid-19 and b) be severely ill. Whilst vaccination does not provide 100% immunity it does make a massive difference to the level of hospitalisations and deaths. 

The difference for many now being able to travel – be it for business, to visit family, to visit those who are ill, or for a holiday – without needing to have a 10-day quarantine on return will be a game changer. It is also a big boost for the travel industry as it means more of our guests with existing bookings will be happy to “travel amber”, and there will be an uplift in new enquiries as well for those keen to get away who had delayed booking until they were more confident. 

At Scott Dunn we had already seen an increase in new enquiries as the Government signalled they were looking at removing quarantine for those who are fully vaccinated. The news today gives more certainty, confirming this will commence from 19th July and that children under the age of 18 will also be exempt from quarantine. Yes, there is still a testing requirement to be fulfilled both pre-return and on/before Day 2, but that feels a sensible approach as vaccination reduces the risk of contracting Covid-19 but doesn’t fully eliminate it. 

We still have some space at our dedicated Scott Dunn Explorers clubs in Daios Cove and Costa Navarino in Greece and Pine Cliffs in Portugal, but we expect these will start to sell out quickly with this announcement. 

We will continue to advise our guests on the requirements to travel to their chosen destinations, be they green or amber – the forms, any pre-departure testing, any visas etc – and guide them every step of the way. Travel agents and tour operators have never been more important in helping our guests be fully apprised of the ever-changing requirements. 

Having myself returned from Portugal, an amber destination, I know the positive impact the UK travellers will have on destinations which are heavily reliant on tourism. Portugal saw large numbers of cancellations once it was removed from the green list and faced a summer of significant uncertainty. I had a wonderful trip. The sense of freedom, being somewhere different, the joy of discovering new places, and the happiness felt by the hotel and restaurant teams at having you visit was palpable. 

I anticipate we will now see airlines adding flights back into schedules that were recently consolidated; pilots and cabin crew coming back from furlough and more of us taking to the skies once more. The recent trial of BA and Virgin with Heathrow Airport to fast-track fully vaccinated arrivals will also help ease congestion at Border Control – the private sector is leading the way with technology to help make travel during this time easier.  As more and more countries around the world open borders to the fully vaccinated, it is great to see the UK start to play its part once more. Hopefully we will soon reciprocate for inbound business travel and inbound domestic tourism too – these sectors have also been incredibly hard hit and I hope that their time will shortly come. 

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