UK Government updates international travel system

The new rules have been welcomed by airlines and other businesses in the travel sector following months of losses   

The UK Government has laid out its plans for a refreshed travel system which will see the end of the ‘amber’ travel list and simplification of countries onto a two-tier list with countries that are either ‘Red’ or a group called ‘Rest of the World’. 

The measures will be brought into effect from Monday October 4 at 4.00am and will coincide new testing requirements meaning passengers will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test before returning to England. 

London Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

From the end of October, the government is hoping that eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be able to replace their day 2 PCR type test with a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test.    

Grant Shapps, UK Transport secretary, said: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry. Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than 8 in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.” 

Naturally those working in the travel and tourism industry have welcomed the changes and low-cost carrier easyJet has seen bookings surge since the announcement.  

Sophie Dekkers, easyJet CCO, said: "Every time restrictions have been relaxed or removed we have seen pent up demand and this is no exception. We have seen a huge surge in bookings since the move by the government to disband the traffic light system and remove popular summer sun destinations from the Red list. With Brits scrambling for last minute summer sun, particularly over the October half term, we are putting on even more flights to the most popular beach hot spots to serve this added demand.” 

A recent survey by Jet2 has shown confidence in travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, following the easing of international restrictions, with over 62% of people surveyed saying they feel confident about booking and travelling on holidays this summer and beyond.  

This has translated into increased bookings for the Leeds Bradford based carrier with bookings climbing over 250% since the announcement, while Turkey has been the most popular destination with a 1000% increase since it moved off the ‘Red’ list.   

Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays said: “Last week’s announcement is the news that customers have been waiting for. The removal of the Traffic Light system and costly testing burdens, alongside the reopening of key destinations such as Turkey, means that customers can really plan and look forward to their holidays. It’s great to see happy holidaymakers planning and travelling on their flights and holidays once again.”