Tour operators are urging the British government to expand the number of countries for quarantine-free travel, after many popular destinations including Cyprus were left off the UK’s green list.
According to British media, only twelve destinations are on the green list, some of which are not even accepting international visitors.
The Republic of Cyprus, which had been hoping for weeks to land on the green list, was assigned in the orange (amber) category, along with other destinations such as Greece, Spain, France, Italy and the United States. Turkey, which is also currently on the amber list, is scheduled to go into the red sometime next week.
Cypriot Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said earlier this week that the country did everything it could to bring in British tourists safely but clarified it was up to London to decide.
UK stakeholders in the travel industry had further argued that Britain's rapid vaccination programme should help opening up more quickly
Last month, EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren reportedly said that a number of countries including Greece and Cyprus were expected to be among countries to enter the green list, adding that quarantine should not be imposed on arrivals from those countries “unless something happened.”
UK stakeholders in the travel industry had further argued that Britain's rapid vaccination programme should help opening up more quickly.
But British media said the UK government’s priorities were set on efforts to prevent coronavirus variants from entering the country, a chapter that remained somewhat less understood.
Reports said airline companies and travel agents were angered over the decision, calling the list “overly cautious.”
Unions representing pilots, airport staff, and holiday operators said Britain was being “excessively cautious” and further warned that a limited scope in reopening travel abroad would “continue to drag on an industry that had taken great strides to manage safe travel.”
"This excess of caution from the government is extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector," Brian Strutton of the British Airline Pilots Association said according to Reuters.
Travelers who visit countries sitting in the amber category will be required to self-isolate upon returning to the UK, while those travelling to green list destinations will have to take two COVID-19 tests, one before catching their return flight back to the UK and another within two days after their return.
London is expected to revise the list every few weeks.