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Staycation or Vacci-cation?

"Vaccine passport" has been the buzzword of the past month, which we previously discussed (here) .

Although the UK Government refuses to confirm whether there will again be travel corridors or vaccine passports, they have put together a Travel Taskforce to work with the industry to find a way for International travel to open up from 17th May. Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, said at a press briefing on the 8th March that vaccine passports for International travel "will be a feature of our life in the future". Although, as you will read below, the onus is to figure out a way for holiday makers to prove they have been vaccinated, tested negative or have anti-bodies against COVID.

With news of a number of countries announcing they will allow travellers to visit their shores as pandemic restrictions begin to relax and populations get vaccinated, we have put together a guide of which countries will let you holiday, and when - with a caveat based on the UK government allowing you to travel.

Portugal
Rita Marques, Portugal's 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."

Portugal is one of the top destinations for UK tourists, with nearly 3.5M visitors in 2019. The Algarve, a region making up the southern coast of Portugal, is extremely popular with British travellers. It is a region full of breath-taking beaches and picture-postcard villages and fishing towns, which combined make the perfect family destination. Faro serves the area with some very attractive car rental rates, which can be booked through BookingClik. Lisbon and Porto are great for weekend or romantic breaks, and again, a car rental can be a great addition to go out and see Cabo de Roca (most westerly point of mainland Europe), the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, Braga or the Douro Valley.

Greece
Greece's tourism minister, Harry Theoharis has announced that they will be opening up parts of the country based on their domestic vaccination programme, and said Britons hoping for a summer holiday in the country can start booking as it prioritises giving the COVID vaccine to the inhabitants of around 40 small islands.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the islands have populations of under 1000 people, and includes Halki near Rhodes, Kastellorizo off the Turkish coast, Meganisi in the Ionian Sea and Kythira in the Peloponnese peninsula. As the larger islands ramp up their local vaccinations then they will be added to the list.

Mr Theoharis went on to say that Brits wanting to enter the open parts of Greece will need either: a certificate showing they have been vaccinated; proof that they have antibodies against the virus; or a test to show they are negative.

Cyprus
Savvas Perdios, the Deputy Tourism Minister, has said, "We have informed the British government that from 1st May we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated...so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine."

British tourists are a key market for the Cypriot tourism industry, which has seen income from tourism drop on average 85% in 2020.

Cyprus has said that the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine must be administered at least 7 days prior to travel and said vaccine must be EMA (European Medicines Agency) approved.

The country has already struck a deal whereby from 1 April Israelis and Greeks vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine will not be required to take a PCR test and will not be placed in quarantine upon arrival. Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccines used in the UK are approved by the EMA.

Spain
As the UK's number 1 holiday destination, it is in both countries interests to open up tourism. 2019 saw over 18m UK visitors to Spain.

Fernando Valdés, Spain's tourism minister, will consider a "green corridor" for vaccinated British tourists if there is no EU agreement on vaccination passports, as the European commission prepared to table a proposal for leaders later this month.

This means right now it is hard to put any potential date on when borders will be open between the two countries, but it will certainly be a priority.

"Right now we have discussions with our colleagues in the UK," Valdés told Bloomberg TV. "For us the British market is our main market. But obviously since we are a member of the European Union, the solutions have first to be part of the discussions in the EU.

"And obviously if that cannot be reached, we will be thinking of other corridors like green corridors with third countries that can help us restart tourism flows."

Other Destinations
There are a number of other destinations who have also said they will welcome UK visitors once the Government opens up travel, most of them based on either a negative coronavirus test or proof of a COVID vaccine. These include: Estonia, the Seychelles, Iceland, Romania, Lebanon, Poland and Georgia.

With the ability to amend the NHS (Serco) Test and Trace app to keep a track of any tests and vaccinations, or using the ZOE app (built in partnership with King's College London) which already keeps a note of these, the UK is in a good position to support digital vaccination/test result passports.

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