Flight prices to Ibiza and Majorca have nearly trebled after they were added to the green list but the travel industry is warning there’s still too much uncertainty to save the summer.
Spain’s Balearic Islands, which also includes Menorca and Formentera, were among 14 new destinations added to the all-important list last night.
It means holidaymakers can freely visit without the need to self-isolate when they return back to England.
However Malta was the only one of the 14 not also also put on a watchlist, which means they are at risk of returning to the amber list.
And mainland holiday spots including France, Greece, Italy and Spain also missed out on a spot.
Meanwhile German chancellor Angela Merkel wants the EU to impose quarantine rules on Brits across the bloc, which would scupper any chances of trips abroad this summer.
Currently Malta and the Balearics are allowing people in from the UK if they can show evidence of a negative test or vaccination.
But Ms Merkel feels the risks are too high, given the spread of the Delta variant in the UK and the falling cases on the continent.
She told the German parliament on Wednesday: ‘We have not yet managed to ensure that all 27 Member States have the same entry requirements for people arriving from virus variant areas, in this case Great Britain, but in other countries also.
‘With us you have to be in quarantine when you come from the UK. This is by no means the case in every European country. But I would like that.’
The EU can set overall directions on travel rules but it’s up to individual countries whether they enforce them or not. Popular destinations like Spain rely heavily on tourism and are likely to favour more relaxed rules.
In his announcement last night, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps held out the prospect that people visiting amber list countries who had received two doses of the vaccine would not need to self-isolate on return, with an announcement due next month.
Though the travel sector cautiously welcomed the inclusion on the list of more recognisable holiday destinations, many fear it’s still too late to save the summer.
The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the Government’s ‘overly cautious’ approach would continue to have ‘major financial impacts’ on the sector.
‘Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,’ she said.
CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: ‘While welcome, these limited movements on green list countries won’t be enough to salvage the summer season for the international travel sector.
‘International connectivity extends far beyond tourism and underpins our whole economy. The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means we should be in the vanguard of safely restarting international travel.’
But many Brits who have been desperate for a holiday for months seemed undeterred and snapped up flights and deals in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.
Some flights to Majorca trebled in price in the hour after Mr Shapps tweeted the news.
The changes come into play at 4am on Wednesday night and prices on Thursday have increased dramatically.
A passenger could have flown to Ibiza on Ryanair for £155 on Thursday morning previously, but the same flight will now cost £309. Journeys on the same day to Majorca leaped from £153 to £478.
The holiday company On the Beach said it would not be taking new bookings for July and August while so much uncertainty remained about countries on the watchlist.
Chief executive Simon Cooper said: ‘Booking a holiday to these destinations is not a guarantee that you won’t have to self-isolate when you return home.
‘While this uncertainty continues, we will continue to not sell holidays for July and August until we have greater confidence these holidays will go ahead with minimal disruptions.’
However, Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French was more upbeat saying he expected a ‘bumper weekend’ of bookings.
He said the announcement was ‘fantastic news for our customers who are desperate for a holiday and have been waiting with bated breath for this latest update’.
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