Popular island group only added in late October
The Canary Islands have been removed from the travel corridors list in the latest blow to the travel industry.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, tweeted: “Data indicates weekly cases and positive tests are increasing in the Canary Islands and so we are removing them from the Travel Corridor list to reduce the risk of importing Covid-19. From 4am Saturday December 12, if you arrive from these islands you will need to self-isolate.”
Botswana and Saudi Arabia were added to the list. Shapps also reminded travellers that, from Tuesday December 15, the new Test to Release service for passengers arriving in England begins.
This means that all passengers from any location not in country on the travel corridors list can opt-in to shorten self-isolation to five days with a negative test result from government-approved providers.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, called the move “utterly devastating […] not only for consumers who booked Christmas breaks but also for travel firms who benefited from the sales uplift.”
The Canaries were only added to the list on October 25 – shortly before the UK entered lockdown, meaning British holidaymakers mostly weren’t able to take advantage of the corridor.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO at Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “The Canary Islands being removed from the travel ‘safe list’ will be absolutely devastating for some travel agents and tour operators. Given the limited number of destinations suitable for winter sun holidays that are also exempt from self-isolation upon return to the UK, the majority of departures over the next few weeks would have been to the Canaries, particularly since the UK lockdown has been lifted and in the lead-up to the Christmas period.
“Travel agents will now have the difficult task of re-booking and cancelling passengers, while the majority of their workforce remain on furlough. Without a travel corridor the FCDO advisory will kick in and advise against all but essential travel, meaning any passengers who are able to travel and quarantine on arrival will need to check their travel insurance. The ONS October data released today place travel agents at the top of the list of businesses most impacted by the pandemic, trading at – 90%. At what point will the government recognise that tailored support is needed? The travel industry is vital to economic recovery but continued changes to the travel corridor measures, blanket FCDO advisory and a testing regime that still hasn’t been implemented is causing devastation and misery to many businesses. The travel industry had started to feel like it was turning a corner, however the removal of The Canaries is hugely damaging. We strongly urge the government to advise at their earliest convenience their plans for the test and release scheme as well as a much needed review of the FCDO advisory.”
Last week, Bhutan, Mongolia and Timor-Leste were among the countries to have been added to the travel corridor list.
Aruba as well as the Pacific Islands of Samoa, Kiribati, Micronesia, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands were also added to the list.
The latest changes come as new figures published by the ONS reveal that travel agents and tour operators have been hit worst by the pandemic than any other service sector, according to However, despite the downturn, the government has offered no tailored support.
The figures show that the impact of on output in the UK economy for October 2020, revealing that travel agents and tour operators were down 90 per cent on February 2020.
ABTA has been arguing for tailored financial support for the sector throughout the crisis, this week the Scottish Government confirmed tailored support will be made available from January.