Tory MPs urge PM to ditch 'costly' holiday testing plans

Holidaymakers target countries with high vaccine levels like Israel, US and Malta as ministers look to ‘prioritise trips to nations where at least 50% of adults have had a jab’ while Tory MPs urge PM to ditch ‘costly’ testing plans

  • Travel firms see bookings spike for trips to countries with high vaccination rate
  • US, Malta and Israel being prioritised because of Government traffic light plan
  • Ministers said to be looking at prioritising travel to nations with 50%+ take up
  • Tory MPs urge Boris Johnson to ditch ‘costly’ testing rules for ‘green’ nations

Travel firms are experiencing a spike in bookings for trips to nations with advanced vaccination programmes, it was claimed today, ahead of the rollout of the Government’s traffic light system. 

The new scheme for resuming international travel will see countries rated green, amber or red based on criteria like vaccination take up, coronavirus case numbers and prevalence of variants. 

As a result there has reportedly been an increase in bookings for summer holidays to countries like the United States, Israel, Malta and Dubai where jab rollouts have been conducted at pace. 

Ministers are looking at prioritising travel to countries where at least 50 per cent of adults have had one vaccine dose, according to The Times, as they prepare to unveil further details of the scheme potentially as early as tomorrow.   

It came as Boris Johnson faced calls from Tory MPs to ditch any ‘costly’ testing requirements for travel to and from ‘green’ countries. 

Boris Johnson’s plans to resume international travel from May 17 will use a traffic light system to determine which countries can be visited without quarantine 

Travel firms are experiencing a spike in bookings for trips to nations with advanced vaccination programmes


Mr Johnson is targeting a return to non-essential international travel from May 17. 

Trips to ‘green’ countries would be quarantine-free but people will still have to be tested before departure and on arrival back in the UK. 

The importance of vaccination levels in the traffic light system has prompted travellers to target nations with high levels of jab take up. 

EasyJet reportedly said it had experienced a rise in demand for trips to Israel and Malta. 

Meanwhile, Brits are also targeting travel to Greece and Turkey – countries which have made clear they want to welcome back UK holidaymakers as soon as it is safe to do so.   

The Government is still advising people not to book holidays yet and booking numbers are still way down on pre-pandemic levels.

Restricting ‘green’ status to countries where at least 50 per cent of adults have had one dose would result in only a handful of destinations being available to Brits. 

But it is hoped that many European nations will hit the benchmark by the summer, potentially adding many more destinations to the list.    

The Government has said that travel from ‘green’ countries will require testing but it is as yet unclear what sort of tests will be required. 

Travel chiefs have warned that using laboratory-based PCR tests which can cost £100 would price many people out of foreign travel. 

They have called for the testing requirement to be ditched for the safest countries or for cheaper lateral flow tests to be used instead. 

Mr Johnson said earlier this week that he wanted to make travel ‘as flexible and as affordable as possible’. 

Henry Smith, the Tory chairman of all party Future of Aviation Group which has 100 MPs as members including 40 Tories, has written to the PM to urge him to scrap the ‘costly’ testing plan.   

Mr Smith told The Telegraph: ‘I am not against testing but I do question the need for PCR tests. 

‘Any testing in terms of cost needs to be kept to a minimum otherwise it is a big disincentive.’      

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