Skip to Content

New UK Travel System Causing Confusion For Brits Vacationing This Summer

Share The Article

Last Updated

After several tough lockdowns, more than four million Covid-19 cases and more than 100,000 deaths, British travelers were relieved when May 17th came around and they were free to travel abroad once more. However, what should have been a celebratory moment in their battle against Covid-19 has in fact turned out to be a head-scratching one.

That’s because the UK’s travel system has come under fire from those in the travel industry, who have criticized it for its confusing nature, amongst other problems. Here’s a look at the issue, and why it has caused such consternation.

Confusing UK Travel System Criticized By Those In The Industry

UK’s Travel System – In A Nutshell

In order to facilitate the safest possible return to international travel for the British people, the UK government implemented a traffic light system that saw countries assigned different color-coded categories depending on their Covid-19 risk level.

boarding flight

Each of the categories has their own restrictions; for example, visiting a “green” country means that travelers will not need to quarantine on their return to the UK, but those who have been to a “red” country – the most severe risk level – will need to stay in one of the government’s hotel quarantine facilities upon their return to the UK.

departure board

At present, the following countries find themselves on the UK’s green list:

Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

airport travel luggage

The green list is set to be reviewed by the government on June 7th, three weeks after it came into effect, whilst the traffic light system itself is scheduled to be reviewed three weeks after that date, on June 28th.

luggage belt

What’s the Issue? Information For Travelers

A collection of airlines and holiday companies have launched an attack on the UK governments, branding their advice for foreign travel “utterly confusing” and accusing them of throwing away the success of the country’s vaccination program.

UK Finally Reveals Its “Green List” For Foreign Travel

The development follows conflicting advice given by the British government towards amber-list countries. Whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that travelers should not visit these countries, those in the industry claim that the traffic light system was never designed to regard amber countries as “no-go” destinations. Speaking on the matter, easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said:

“The traffic light system was there to make sure that there was a safe and sustainable plan to restart travel, and that’s why different restrictions were applied. Now there is different advice. We fly to amber countries, there are restrictions in place to make it safe to do so, and there is demand to do so.”

In a letter to the Prime Minister, industry bosses called upon the government to stick to the framework of the traffic light system. Some also accused the government of forcing travelers into a state of “moral confusion” about whether or not they should travel, and warned that the UK travel industry could not go another “lost summer”.

UK Amongst Countries Facing New US Travel Advisory Updates

The confusion is set to be compounded in the coming weeks as the British government is considering adding holiday island destinations to the green list, whilst keeping the mainland of the countries in the amber list. This could see popular destinations such as the Canary Islands or Majorca moved to green, whilst mainland Spain remains in amber.

Mexico And United States Will Not Ban UK Flights

Read More:

List of Countries allowing vaccinated tourists to visit

Countries that are open to everyone with no tests/quarantines

Top 10 destinations to visit in Greece now that it’s open

Spain to reopen for all tourists June 7

↓ Join Our Community ↓

The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations, and Q&A's happening daily! 


Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.

This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Thursday 27th of May 2021

It's an absurd situation! They only need 2 lights. Red for stop. Green for go.


Thursday 27th of May 2021

Alas, the reaction from the opposition and the British media shows the divide between the British and the Americans. In the USA the Government via CDC publish advice and leaves it to citizens to make their choice. Whilst in Britain the Establishment view to remove free choice and ban things. We saw the same reaction after the Brexit referendum. Those with influence thinking they have more rights than the people. Very sad. This is not helped by both PM Johnson and President Biden wanting to be liked and deferring difficult decisions. It is ludicrous with the current vaccination rates in bith countries that they still ban or restrict travel between the two countries. A wise person learns from their adversities to make them wiser.


Tuesday 1st of June 2021

@Rich, What This guy said :)