Spanish and Greek islands plus Malta are among the destinations which experts believe may be given green status which would mean people visiting those locations from the UK will no longer be required to quarantine on their return.
Portugal is the only viable major tourist destination currently on the green list, but there have been reports it could be downgraded to amber although this has not been confirmed.
Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways’ parent company IAG, predicted that a number of summer hotspots will be added to the green tier.
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He wrote in a blog post: “It still seems very likely that whilst Spain and Greece will not make it onto the green list, many of their islands will, due to lower case rates and higher vaccinations than on the mainland.”
Mr Boyle added: “Malta, Finland and Slovakia are fairly safe bets, based on high testing rates and low reported cases.”
While Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said a number of popular holiday destinations “really deserve” to be moved to the low-risk tier.
He expects additions to the green list to include the Greek islands of Zante, Rhodes and Kos, the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Antigua, plus Malta and Finland.
But he said he would be “surprised” if Spain’s Balearic Islands – including Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – were added on Thursday.
“They’re hugely popular and I’m not sure the Government is ready to encourage so much travel at the moment,” he told the PA news agency.
The Government has urged people to avoid non-essential travel to amber and red countries.
Currently travellers returning from amber list locations – which include popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.
Several additions to the red list are expected on Thursday.
Mr Boyle explained that Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait “ought to be on the list” due to “very high infection rates”, whereas Mr Charles warned that Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia could be added as there are “signs of increased infection in many parts of Asia”.
People returning to the UK from a red country are required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.
Assessments of travel lists are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said the public should “exercise their common sense” about travelling abroad.
She told Times Radio: “We all want to get back to normality, pre-pandemic normality.
“But I think (we) all understand we’ve got to take careful steps to do that.”
On Wednesday, Boris Johnson warned the Government will have “no hesitation” over moving countries off the green list if necessary, and said it will “wait and see” what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the lists.