UK holidaymakers are once again travelling overseas from today, although currently only to exclusive “green list” destinations such as Portugal.
Bookings for flights to Portugal, including tourist hotspot the Algarve, were reported to have increased dramatically last Friday, after the Portuguese government confirmed that travellers from the UK would be allowed to enter the country if they could provide a negative PCR test result from the previous 72 hours.
Previously, there had been some confusion about the government’s position. Portugal is one of only 12 destinations included on the UK’s “green list”, which allows overseas holiday travel and enables tourists to return to the UK without having to self-isolate or go into hotel quarantine.
In a clarifying statement, announcing that British tourists would be permitted to enter Portugal from Monday 17 May (coinciding with the UK’s lifting of the travel ban), the Portuguese minister of state for foreign affairs said the decision revoked essential travel restrictions that were in place until 16 May.
The minister also noted that the Portuguese National Tourist Office had been “ensuring that testing capacity in Portugal will meet the demand from tourists… With air capacity from (at least) 21 airports in the United Kingdom into Portugal reinforced due to the high demand for this market, the options are widespread for British tourists to visit Portugal, from any point.
“People from the United Kingdom have visited Portugal and celebrated our culture, traditions, landmarks and history, and enjoyed our warm hospitality, for decades. We look forward to welcoming all travellers coming from the UK.”
Commenting on the re-opening of “non-essential” travel, BA chief executive Sean Doyle told the BBC that the airline’s six flights due to depart from Heathrow on Monday to “green list” destinations such as Lisbon, Faro and Madeira were “very busy”, adding that the easing of restrictions was “a small step in the right direction”.
Also speaking to the BBC, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said he was noting the start of a strong rebound for travel as the easing of the lockdown released pent-up demand. “The rate of bookings suggests there is a huge amount of confidence. We are very optimistic for the next couple of months.
“For vaccinated Britons going to the beaches of Portugal, Spain and Greece, I think there is very little risk. Everybody is right to be cautious, but I think everybody can take their holiday in Europe with a high degree of confidence.”