Holidays are back on the cards - but can we afford them? 7 months ago

Holidays are back on the cards - but can we afford them?

The transport secretary said today that Brits will be allowed to travel abroad without a 'reasonable excuse' from the 17 May - but trips will come with additional costs

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced a new “traffic light” system for international travel which will lift restrictions on May 17 allowing international travel.

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Shapps told the BBC today: "This is the first time I'm able to come on and say I'm not advising against booking foreign holidays.

"Yes, you'll want to check what the situation is in two or three weeks' time when that list - the green, amber, red, is produced - you'll want to know that you've got good holiday insurance and flexible flights and the rest of it.

"But for the first time I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and we'll be able to restart international travel."

Travel outside of the UK has been made illegal during the pandemic, with travellers required to provide a "reasonable excuse" to leave the country.

Reasonable excuses include work, funerals, and medical care.

Under the new scheme, a country's risk - or "traffic light", which the government claim is being guided by their Global Travel Taskforce - will be decided on a variety of factors, including: vaccination rate, rate of infection, and a country's ability to conduct genomic sequencing and testing.

Part of the government's international frame work includes PCR testing, and hotel quarantines - which travellers will be expected to pay for.

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However, the plans have received backlash for the high cost of testing requirements, with Which? estimating the additional costs for holidays could be in excess of £400.

The cost of PCR tests in the UK are higher than many other countries, with Which? finding that, on average, the cost for a PCR test in the UK is £120 a pop versus £74 in Italy.

Under any traffic light in the framework, travellers will be required to take a minimum of two tests, with the post-arrival test required to be PCR instead of the less costly lateral flow tests.

Unlike other European countries like Greece, which have signalled travellers who have been vaccinated will not be required to be tested over the summer, the UK will also still require testing among vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

The government are yet to announce where countries will fall on each travel list, saying it is too early to say, but the cost of Covid-19 travel measures will vary country by country.

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For travel to a green country, an individual must complete a passenger locator form, a pre-departure test, and a mandatory PCR test on or before day two.

For a red list country, passengers require not just the above, but also ten day managed hotel quarantine, and another PCR test on day eight.

The government say the use of PCR tests not only helps detect infection, but also helps identify variants of concern.

Costs are travel currently are already eye-wateringly high, with a trip across the channel to France racking up an additional £420 to any travel costs due to testing and quarantine requirements.

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For a return trip to Greece, which requires five tests at present, the bill is approximately £370 per person.

The government's new travel framework, and its affordability, has received widespread backlash from the aviation industry and stakeholders.

Tui say they are "disappointed" with "expensive" testing and quarantine measures - meanwhile, Jet2 have taken the dramatic step of suspending all flights and holidays until 23 June.

Heathrow Airport's chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye, said: "we need to make sure that travel is something anyone can do, and is not just something for the wealthy."

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The department for transport say their travel framework outlined today will be formally reviewed on 28 June, after the government's end of what they call "a cautious but irreversible route out of lockdown."

This comes after Boris Johnson earlier this week said he wanted to stop international travel being too costly.

"I do think we want to make things as easy as we possibly can," he said.

"We're going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and affordable as possible."