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Traffic light system changes predicted as red list to be halved - what it means for cruises

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Red list and green list countries are due to be announced tomorrow by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps - with the Maldives and Turkey predicted to go amber.

Traffic light system updates have struck dread into the hearts of travel lovers for months now - but it seems good news is due this week.

The red list, currently 63 countries strong, is due to be halved, reported The Times.

Popular holiday destinations the Maldives and Turkey are predicted to be slashed from the red list.

“Expert analysts concur that Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, the Maldives, South Africa and Turkey should be taken off the red list," travel expert Simon Calder told the Independent.

"But as the government has shown many times, it can deliver wildly different conclusions.”

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The changes should come in time for double-vaccinated Britons to make the most of travel during the half term in October.

Jet-setters will be able to travel to red-turned-green destinations without paying thousands for hotel quarantine on return to England.

Expert Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultants, The PC Agency, believes even more countries will go green.

- READ MORE: Latest travel advice & traffic light updates for most popular holiday destinations -

He tweeted that the following countries that "should be taken off" the red list: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa and Uruguay.

In further changes to the system, the Government is set to reveal it will be cutting the amber list to simplify the listings to just red, no-go countries and green, safe countries.

The Government has also suggested PCR tests for fully jabbed travellers will be binned in favour of cheaper lateral flow tests - great news for anyone heading off on a cruise in the coming months.

Passengers currently have to pay around £75 for a PCR test when arriving from amber-listed countries.

Popular holiday destinations such as the Maldives are predicted to be slashed from the red list. Credit: Shutterstock

When Huw Merriman, the Conservative MP who chairs the transport committee, on Tuesday asked Health Secretary Sajid Javid in the Commons if he would “entertain the idea of moving to lateral flow tests” Javid suggested the change would be made, informing Merriman he would “be pleased”.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, commented yesterday: "The Government must urgently announce its plans for the travel testing system to end the uncertainty for millions of people who may be trying to make plans for holidays or to visit friends and family.

"Regardless of whether the rules change for double-vaccinated travellers returning to the UK, ministers must act now on the competition regulator's recommendations for PCR testing to ensure consumers are protected properly and bring down the often extortionate cost of tests, with price caps if necessary."

- READ MORE: What you must do before you travel now -

So where is best to head off on holiday right now? Data expert Tim White told Sky News Spain, Italy and Portugal are safe bets as they have "the lowest COVID-19 rates per 100,000."

However, those looking to visit the Caribbean should err on the side of caution.

Data expert Tim White told Sky News Italy is a safe bet for a holiday right now. Credit: Shutterstock

"Large areas of the Caribbean are only just starting to recover from the peak of the Delta wave, with some still seeing rates increase," White said.

"I would still urge caution and research for anyone dreaming of Caribbean sunshine.

"Just do your research because Barbados still looks safe, though cases are increasing here, but others could turn red, or as Jamaica found, be subjected to a 'do not travel' advisory from the FCDO [Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office] invalidating most travel insurance policies."

- READ MORE: Major mistakes to avoid making when cruising -

What does all this mean for cruising? Many cruise lines won't operate to countries on the red list so the new additions to the amber list would open up a plethora of destinations to cruise passengers and cut the number of restrictions.

This would prove the latest boost to the cruise industry following the success of UK seacations this summer and the resumption of international cruises.

Since last summer, around 1.2 million people have sailed on cruises around the world. Credit: Shutterstock

On Wednesday Robert Courts MP, Minister for Aviation, Maritime & Security welcomed the steps taken by the cruise industry to return to operations, during a meeting with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

He said: “Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our cruise sector, we have seen the safe restart of international sailings this summer, after more than a year of still waters.

- READ MORE: Best cruise lines in the world for 2021 -

“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, and look forward to even greater cooperation between Government and industry, helping more people return to seas and sail around the world safely again.”

CLIA revealed that since last summer, around 1.2 million people have sailed on cruises around the world.

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