Ten hotspots with a fighting chance of the green light (and they can’t wait for you to visit… )
- From June 1, Malta will welcome fully vaccinated UK visitors. The average temperature soars to 31C in summer
- The Canary Islands have started their vaccination programme faster than almost anywhere else in Spain
- Israel is the only country with a swifter vaccination rollout than the UK and 60% of the population is covered
- Portugal has worked hard to lower its Covid infection rate, more than 6% of the population is fully vaccinated
Green will mean go in the Government’s international travel traffic-light system that’s been devised by the Global Travel Taskforce. By May 17, the Taskforce will announce countries where we can go on holiday this summer without the need to self-isolate on return.
The only conditions will be for adults to take a Covid test before boarding flights back to the UK, and another within two days of returning home. The Government’s decision to award green-light status to countries will be based on multiple factors, including the proportion of its population that has been vaccinated, the local rates of infection, any emerging Covid variants and how much reliable scientific data is available.
As May 17 approaches, all eyes will be on British holidaymakers’ favourite destinations to see which pass the green-light test. Israel is definitely going to be a winner, while others – such as the Canaries – are hopeful, but Canada has a lot of catching up to do. Here we offer our top ten likely green-list holiday hopefuls…
Pre-pandemic, more than half a million Britons arrived in Malta each year to soak up an enchanting mix of traditional culture, picture perfect coves and family friendly beaches. Pictured is the island’s capital, Valletta
There’s a rugged charm to Malta, where the average temperature soars to 31C (87F) in summer.
Its history and special relationship with Britain are evident throughout the capital Valletta – spot the red post boxes – and there’s a thriving expat community.
It was also here that Princess Elizabeth began married life when the Duke of Edinburgh was based in Valletta with the Royal Navy.
Pre-pandemic, more than half a million Britons arrived each year to soak up an enchanting mix of traditional culture, picture perfect coves, family friendly beaches plus a sleek urban and foodie scene.
The talk of Valletta is its most romantic new opening: Iniala Harbour House hotel on St Barbara Bastion with beautiful views across Grand Harbour. The 23-room boutique property takes in four lavishly restored historic Maltese houses.
Dinner at the swish rooftop restaurant, which has a Michelin star, promises to be memorable. From £300 per room, per night (inialamalta.com).
From June 1, Malta will welcome fully vaccinated UK visitors. Proof of vaccination must be received at least ten days before boarding to be accepted for travel.
There are bargains aplenty and plenty of flexible deals on holidays to the Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. Pictured is Teide mountain, Tenerife
There’s a holiday for everyone on the always-sunny Canary Islands. Some families love the long sandy beaches and sweeping dunes. Others prefer lunar landscapes, buzzing nightlife, water parks – and the chance to take a day-trip to an active volcano.
Last year a travel corridor allowed UK sunseekers to visit the big draws – Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote – when other places were off-limits.
The islands started their vaccination programme faster than almost anywhere else in Spain (nearly one in five adults have now been jabbed) and hopes are high that holidays will be back on this summer. Better still, there are bargains aplenty and plenty of flexible deals if circumstances change.
Check-in at the Sandos Papagayo hotel on Lanzarote and as well as a nearby beach you’ll have five pools to dive into. Get a week including flights from £445pp with onthebeach.co.uk.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
New York, pictured, has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the United States. It is vaccinating almost one per cent of its population each day
With visitor numbers likely to be low, and the US vaccine rollout going well, you should be able to explore freely from coast to coast.
The shortest flights are to New York, taking just eight hours, making the Big Apple an odds-on favourite for UK tourists.
Recent additions to the city include the High Line walk along an old railway line, an adventure that ends in front of the 16-storey Vessel sculpture designed by Britain’s Thomas Heatherwick. You could also take a guided walk to bring Central Park alive (getyourguide.co.uk) and stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge, to feel like you’re in a movie. And don’t forget the free Staten Island ferry – it’s hard to beat, with stunning views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
Half of all adults in the US are expected to have had one dose of the vaccine by today, with an average of 3.1 million jabs given daily. New York has one of the fastest rollouts in the country, vaccinating almost one per cent of its population each day.
Find ideas at nycgo.com or try dialaflight.com for deals like four-night mini-breaks in a four-star hotel with rooftop pool from £555pp including flights.
A beach-goer plays matkot, a bat and ball game, on the shore in Tel Aviv
In Tel Aviv, all roads lead to its beach – a beautiful Copacabana-style crescent that echoes to the sound of matkot, the bat and ball game played from dawn to dusk.
The city, one of the world’s most stylish, is a food and coffee-lover’s paradise.
Relaxing days here start with big, fresh breakfasts, often served under lemon-scented eucalyptus trees or in cafes surrounded by bougainvillea flowers.
Stroll along shady boulevards past groups of gleaming modern Bauhaus buildings, then find spices, sticky sweets and vintage fashion in markets and traditional souks to rival those of Cairo and Camden.
Grab a craft beer and dance beyond dawn in the club capital of the Middle East, or take a day trip to nearby Jerusalem and marvel at the Wailing Wall. Find more inspiration at citiesbreak.com.
Israel is the only country with a swifter vaccination rollout than the UK, and now has 60 per cent of the population covered and a low infection rate.
It reopens to visitors who have received both Covid jabs from May 23, but travellers will be required to take a test before take-off and a blood test on arrival to prove vaccination status.
Get there on direct flights with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet or Wizz Air from £180 return, or consider a seven-night stay in a boutique four-star hotel with flights from £899pp (trailfinders.com).
The Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, pictured, are close to the luxury resorts on Mexico’s Caribbean coast
Resorts on Mexico’s Caribbean coast are some of the travel world’s best-kept secrets – fly direct to Cancun to enjoy some amazing all-inclusive deals.
Some resorts have their own private beaches, sports pitches and even water parks, so families have everything they need for fun right on their doorstep.
But for a dose of history and culture, the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, are close by, and you can choose between private or small group tours.
Current figures show that Mexico’s Covid-19 infection rate is roughly on a par with Israel, at 23 per 100,000, with about five per cent of the population vaccinated.
BA is offering flexible deals, including flights and seven nights’ all-inclusive at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa from £849pp (ba.com/cancun).
A golfer plays a shot on one of the courses at Portugal’s iconic Vale do Lobo resort. Portugal has worked hard to lower its rate of Covid infections, while more than six per cent of the population is fully vaccinated
Tourism is a major driver of Portugal’s economy, so British holidaymakers will be warmly welcomed back to its glorious beaches and golf courses.
And the country has worked hard to lower its rate of Covid infections, while more than six per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Portugal’s Atlantic coastline is famous for richly coloured rock formations, such as the cathedral-like Benagil Caves – take a boat trip there from Albufeira with a guide.
The lack of other tourists mean it may never be easier to book a tee-time at an Algarve golf course.
Classics to consider include the iconic Vale do Lobo’s Royal and Ocean courses, with their sandstone cliffs, sandy beaches and umbrella pines. Play two rounds on a three-night break from £339 plus flights with yourgolftravel.com.
Or pick Cerro da Marina hotel, part of Tui’s ‘small and friendly’ range, from £531pp for a week (tui.co.uk).
Greece is preparing to open up fully to visitors, with every adult on 60 or so islands vaccinated. Bigger islands including Corfu, pictured, will be fully covered soon
If you’re after a family-friendly but not too chaotic sun-drenched break, or a romantic getaway, head for Greece – it may never be this quiet again.
A top tip is to pick an island that’s popular with cruise ships, as if they do sail this summer it will be with reduced capacity, so crowds are likely to be smaller.
Their usual stops include Mykonos, which has loads of large villas to rent, and Santorini, where beautiful sunsets make it perfect for couples.
Greece is preparing to open up fully to visitors, with every adult on 60 or so islands vaccinated, while bigger islands will be covered soon, making holidays on Corfu, Crete, Kos, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Santorini, Zakynthos and Rhodes feel safer than ever.
Seven-night package holidays at Corfu’s Aqualand Resort, next to a vast water park, cost from £620pp (easyjet.com).
In Barbados, pictured, 22 per cent of the population have been inoculated with those working in the tourist industry the key focus
Head to Barbados if a long-haul break full of barefoot strolls on sugar-white beaches and lazy swims in warm blue seas is what you seek.
Regulars say Barbados is brilliant for families, especially multigens, with private villas or hotels for most budgets.
Enjoy dressing for dinner (remember that?) at big name five-star hotels such as Sandy Lane on the aptly named Platinum Coast. Or dress down and mingle with locals for a Friday night ‘fish-fry’ at Oistins on the south coast. If you feel active there’s top-notch golf and tennis plus a growing surf scene on the south east coast.
Miles of coral reefs provide universal snorkelling and scuba spots.
You’ll be in the birthplace of rum and the home of some of the world’s rarest sea turtles. Or pull on a hard-hat and head down to see the limestone columns and underground lakes of Harrison’s Cave.
Since the celebrity-studded former British colony received its first doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs in February, 22 per cent of the population have been inoculated with those working in the tourist industry the key focus (it’s the biggest economy driver). Now infections are down to 17 per 100,000.
Fly direct with BA or Virgin Atlantic. All-inclusive, 11-night stays on the Platinum Coast’s elegant CrystalCove resort start at £1,827pp, including flights, with virginholidays.co.uk.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The most popular of the seven countries that make up the United Arab Emirates is Dubai, pictured. Here you can see the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa
Seven countries make up the United Arab Emirates, the most popular of which is Dubai. It’s a repeat destination for many families, plus those in search of amazing shopping, an ultra-modern cityscape and a super-luxury lifestyle.
The mercury may tip 37C (98F) from May onwards, but you won’t find better air-conditioning anywhere else. Start in the Mall Of The Emirates, once the world’s biggest with some 650 stores and an indoor ski slope. Then find almost twice as many stores in Dubai Mall, where there’s also an aquarium and zoo. There’s a vast outlet mall as well.
See the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, with its incredible ‘light and sound’ fountain shows, and take a selfie in front of amazing hotels such as the seven-star Burj Al Arab. Find more ideas at visitdubai.com.
United Arab Emirates has nearly a 60 per cent vaccination rate while Covid infections are steadily falling.
Fly to Dubai from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester or Glasgow. Or try four-night breaks in a five-star hotel with private beach from £869pp (flightcentre.co.uk).
Nearly all 34,000 Gibraltar residents have been vaccinated. Pictured is Europa Point, the southernmost point in the British Overseas Territory
For a short break in the sun, Gibraltar might be a winner.
There’s plenty to see in its 2.6 square miles. Jump on the cable car to get up close with its most famous residents, the barbary macaques who rule the roost at the top of The Rock and are renowned for snatching food (and phones and cameras).
Hire an electric bike to get around or take a boat trip to spot schools of dolphins. Or head into the Great Siege Tunnels, dug largely by hand some 250 years ago and described as ‘the world’s greatest defence system’.
Nearly all 34,000 Gibraltar residents have been vaccinated, and masks are required only for enclosed public spaces, shops and public transport.
Plan a trip at visitgibraltar.gi, fly with BA from £110 return or enjoy flights and seven nights at the Art Deco Rock Hotel from £733pp with travelrepublic.co.uk.
BUT IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD FOR CANADA…
A minke whale in the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada
Rising infections have dealt a blow for Canada, which had high hopes of welcoming back UK holidaymakers who adore wild adventures – such as seeing minke whales – right – and cosmopolitan cities.
Canada followed Britain’s lead in extending the gap between first and second jabs and it had been expected to make the green list.
Now, however, that coveted green status looks unlikely as Canada joins a list of 51 other countries where infections are still rising.
Most recent data shows Canada is at peak infection rate and rising, with 161 infections per 100,000.
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