Summer holidays: the destinations most likely to let in British holidaymakers

Helen Coffey and Cathy Adams
·10-min read
<p>Santorini might be open to Brits this summer</p> (Getty/iStock)

Santorini might be open to Brits this summer

(Getty/iStock)

With the news that international travel may be possible again from 17 May, plenty of itchy-footed UK holidaymakers are already making plans for their next trip abroad (despite advice from government ministers to the contrary).

However, the UK rules are only one piece of a complex puzzle – the country you’re travelling to must be prepared to accept foreign visitors again, preferably minus a lengthy quarantine requirement that would make most holidays obsolete.

There’s also the issue of vaccine passports. The European Commission plans to publish a proposal for a “digital green pass” to facilitate travel around the EU this summer, president Ursula von der Leyen has said. More countries and airlines have said they would be happy to accept vaccinated travellers.

We don’t have a crystal ball (sadly), but here are The Independent’s predictions for the destinations you’re most likely to be able to visit this summer.

Turkey

Turkey expects to welcome visitors this summer without requiring evidence of vaccination, the tourism minister has said.

In addition, British travellers are unlikely to need to take PCR tests before arrival due to the success of the UK’s vaccine programme.

Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, minister of culture and tourism, said: “We will not require vaccination passports from international travellers when entering the country.

“We have world-class border processes in place for ensuring travel will be low-risk throughout Turkey.”

Iceland

Iceland has announced it will welcome back visitors who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a bid to boost tourism, the government confirmed that those who’ve had both doses of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency can enter the country without needing to get tested for coronavirus or undergo quarantine.

“The Icelandic government has announced that all those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to border measures, such as testing and quarantine,” the government said in a statement on 16 March

Cyprus

From 1 April visitors from the UK may be admitted to Cyprus if they take a test in advance, though British rules mean a holiday is still not possible until 17 May at the earliest. The island’s deputy tourism minister told the Cyprus News Agency that people from the UK who have had the vaccine will not need to undergo tests or quarantine this summer.

Savvas Perdios told the island’s news agency: “We have informed the British government that as of 1 May we shall facilitate the arrival in Cyprus of those British nationals who have been inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, so that they can come here without needing a negative test and without needing to quarantine.”

Both the Oxford AstraZeneca and the Pfizer vaccines have been approved by the EU’s medicines regulator. It is likely that completing the course of two jabs will be necessary, with a wait of at least a week from the second one before full protection is deemed to have been acquired.

France

On 12 March, France announced that British tourists would no longer need a “compelling reason” to travel to the country.

Previously, Britons had to prove they had one of 21 official reasons for entry into France, which applied to civil servants, hauliers and French citizens and their families, among others.

British visitors will still have to present a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours before departure, as well as a déclaration sur l’honneur form to confirm they are not suffering with Covid symptoms and haven’t been in contact with any confirmed cases. They will also need to present a signed travel certificate, confirming their reasons for travel.

In theory, the easing of travel restrictions could open the door for British tourists to holiday in France this summer.

Spain

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Spain, a country that generates 12 per cent of GDP from the tourism industry and 13 per cent of jobs, has been making some of the loudest noises when it comes to reassuring British travellers that it will be open for business come summer.

A tourism minister said the country could start using a vaccine passport from May; Reyes Maroto, speaking to a local TV station, said that the country could introduce a vaccine passport scheme in May, which coincides with the date the international tourism fair FITUR is due to take place in Madrid.

“We could be in a position to start implementing the digital passport (when FITUR starts on May 19)”, she told Antena 3 TV station.

But, while a big advocate for vaccine certification to enable frictionless travel, the Spanish government has emphasised it won’t be discriminating against unvaccinated tourists, and that vaccine passports will be just one in a range of measures used to lift restrictions.

“We are defending this approach and we would like to coordinate these works with the British government,” the country’s tourism secretary of state, Fernando Valdes, told The Independent.

“A vaccine certificate should help us regain mobility and would have to complement our works with testing and other means that we have already implemented to avoid transmission such as face masks or social distancing.”

Greece

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

From 14 May, tourists may enter Greece without any quarantine requirement as long as they provide proof of full vaccination, Covid-19 antibodies, or a negative test to enter.

Speaking at the International Tourism Fair ITB Berlin on 9 March, Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis said that the country was “more than optimistic” and “ready” to receive visitors.

“We aim to open tourism by 14 May, with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift the restrictions if conditions allow,” he said, adding that those working in the Greek tourism industry would be prioritised for vaccination after the vulnerable.

A pilot programme for reopening tourism is likely to start next month, open to EU residents and third countries with advanced vaccination rollouts, such as Israel.

Visitors will be expected to abide by the same rules as locals – for example, following guidelines about mandatory mask use in public spaces.

Seychelles

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Seychelles was so keen to welcome back tourists that the archipelago off the coast of east Africa has already thrown its doors open to visitors who have had both jabs.

Fully-vaccinated visitors from anywhere in the world are permitted entry without the need to quarantine, although they must still present a negative Covid PCR test result taken with 72 hours of travel.

Visitors must have received both doses of any of the four main vaccines – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen – and waited two weeks after the second dose for the inoculation to take effect.

And unvaccinated travellers can also enter the country without needing to self-isolate from 25 March.

Minister for foreign affairs and tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, said that the decision to relax the entry protocols was made based on the country’s successful vaccine rollout.

Visitors will still have to present a negative coronavirus test upon arrival, plus adhere to other public health measures, including wearing masks, social distancing and regular hand washing or sanitising.

Georgia

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

This country at the intersection of Europe and Asia may not jump out as the most obvious summer holiday destination, but it has plenty to offer the adventurous traveller, from the Caucasus Mountains to the beaches lining the Black Sea. Plus its up-and-coming capital city, Tbilisi, is downright cool.

And, as of February, Georgia has lifted all restrictions for foreign visitors who arrive by air and can provide evidence of completing a two-dose course of any Covid-19 vaccine.

The Georgian government says: “Citizens of all countries, travelling by air from any country may enter Georgia if they present the document confirming the full course (two doses) of any Covid-19 vaccination at the border checkpoints of Georgia.”

However, for now, the picture isn’t looking quite so rosy for unvaccinated travellers; visitors who have been in the UK within the previous two weeks “will be placed in mandatory quarantine for 12 days upon entry”.

Portugal

Simon Calder
Simon Calder

After two months, Portugal has been removed from the government’s “red list” of nations from which travel is severely restricted.

Portugal’s removal comes a month after mandatory hotel quarantine was imposed on any arrivals from the southern European country to the UK.

The announcement has raised hopes that British holidaymakers may be able to visit Portugal this summer.

Portugal’s borders are closed to most British travellers right now, but the Portuguese government has indicated that it expects to open up to tourists at around the same time as the easing of restrictions in the UK – mid-May.

Rita Marques, secretary of state for tourism, told the BBC: “I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative. We hope to welcome British tourists from 17 May.

“Everything will be ready by mid-May.”

The Maldives

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Indian Ocean island nation was added to the UK’s travel corridor list in November thanks to its falling case rates. The country, the most low-lying in the world, benefits from its isolated geography: around 1,200 islands spread across 26 coral “atolls” makes it easier to socially distance.

The Maldives, whose economy is largely dependent on international travellers, reopened to tourism last summer (and remains open to visitors still). British visitors have to present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of departure, which means the only barrier for a summer holiday may be financial. (If you really want to guarantee a socially distanced holiday, one island is available to rent for a cool $1m.)

The Balearics

Getty
Getty

The Balearics – the Spanish island group that includes Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca among others – has put a proposal forward to be one of the first places in Spain where a vaccine passport for travel is trialled, arguing that the islands are the ideal place for a pilot scheme. Infection levels on the islands have fallen during the winter, and rates are now at the same level they were at in August 2020, according to the tourism ministry.

The islands, a firm favourite of British visitors, are eager to welcome back tourists. Minister of tourism for the Balearic Islands, Iago Negueruela, said: “We look forward to bringing back our loyal UK visitors. It is encouraging to read that millions of people are being vaccinated every week and the vast majority of the adult population will be vaccinated by July.

“We know that our islands are valued in the United Kingdom for our tourism proposition in terms of proximity, air connections, tourism infrastructure, quality, price and our climate. We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure a safe return to tourism so that we are ready for when British visitors are able to travel once more.”

Dubai

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

Although the United Arab Emirates is currently sitting on the government’s “red list”, triggering hotel quarantine on return to the UK, its glossiest city, Dubai, is hopeful to welcome back British visitors sooner rather than later.

The tourism-dependent city hasn’t mandated the need for a vaccine passport for visitors, but its airline, Emirates, is one of the first airlines to sign up for Iata’s Travel Pass, a digital app that would specify whether a traveller has a Covid vaccination or a negative test.

The city has developed a “Dubai Assured” stamp, awarded to hotels, hospitality and attractions across the emirate that meet stringent health guidelines, which is reviewed every two weeks.

For entry into Dubai currently, British travellers need to present a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

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