Foreign Office removes advice against travel to host of destinations
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has lifted its advice against ‘all but essential’ travel to 32 countries.
The change means people will be able to travel to a larger number of destinations with greater ease, the body said.
However, there has been criticism that only a small number of Brits visit the countries in question.
Benin, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Djibouti are among the destinations seeing restrictions lifted, for example.
The update comes as part of a simplified system for international travel which has seen the replacement of the traffic light system with a single red list, and reduced testing requirements for eligible fully vaccinated travellers.
The FCDO will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on Covid-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if “the local healthcare system is overwhelmed”.
Many travel insurance companies use FCDO travel advice as a reference point in their policies – typically excluding cover for places where government advises against essential travel.
The government body said advice has been lifted in light of the improved public health in many countries and territories, better understanding of the virus and the decreased risk to British nationals as a result of the vaccine roll out.
The FCDO will continue to advise against all but essential travel for all red list countries and territories where the risk to British travellers is ‘unacceptably high’.
People should not travel to red list countries, the FCDO said.
Advice is also expected to be removed for more countries and territories in the coming days.
Foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said: “These rule tweaks will make travelling more straightforward, supporting businesses and families right across Britain - and allow more of us to see friends and loved ones with greater peace of mind.”
Chris Rowles, chairman of AITO, branded the decision ludicrous, however.
“Is this a joke in extremely poor taste?” he asked.
“The FCDO can only attract ridicule when it names destinations such as Algeria, Belarus, Djibouti, Liberia and Congo.
“They are not destinations on the majority of holidaymakers’ lists, quite frankly.
“And who knows, without Googling or checking a map with a good index, where Tokelau and Nieu sit on the globe?”
For the record, AITO added, Tokelau is a remote group of atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and New Zealand, of which it is a territory; it is a 24-hour boat trip from Samoa; population 1,411.
Nieu is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, known for its coral reef dive sites; population 1,620; self-governing in free association with New Zealand, it is part of the Realm of New Zealand.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, was more welcoming.
He said: “The often-contradictory advice and rules on where you should and shouldn’t travel to from different government departments have been difficult for travellers to understand and navigate.
“This move, which creates a more unified set of rules, is welcome news for those hoping to book holidays or visit friends and family abroad.”
He added: “It remains crucial to also check the rules of entry of the country you are travelling to, as several retain restrictions on entry by UK residents as well as having specific rules on the need for tests if you are unvaccinated.
“This is especially important with the half term holidays fast-approaching and many under-18s in the UK being unvaccinated.
“If you don’t meet the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to, you won’t be able to board the plane or get your money back.”