by Namrata Majithia 29th April 2021
Portugal hopes to welcome Britons back by mid-May

Portugal’s ambassador to UK raises hopes British holidaymakers will be able to visit from mid-May.

It comes after Spain signalled it would be ready to welcome back UK tourists in June.

Portugal’s ambassador to the UK has raised hopes holidaymakers will be able to visit the country as early as mid-May.

Manuel Lubo Antunes said on Wednesday that Portugal wanted to remove border restrictions for UK travellers “as soon as possible”.

He told Sky News: “We are hopeful, as we have been saying for these last months, that middle of May for regular mobility between the UK and Portugal and vice versa can be established. That is our hope.”

Asked if holidaymakers would be allowed in if they were yet to be fully vaccinated: “Yes that is the idea, it’s what we wanted as much possible to go back to the regime that existed before the pandemic.

“We want to remove the last barriers and hurdles between us as much as possible.”

He said he is is confident that Portugal would be placed on the UK’s “green list” of safe countries, which are yet to be decided.

He hoped that UK tourists would come back this year in “great numbers” to enjoy the food and mountains of the north and sunny beaches of south Portugal.
Portugal had on average of 2 million visitors a year before the pandemic, a cornerstone of their economy.

Mr Antunes added that the country would be monitoring transmission rates but their “vicious and efficient” vaccination programme would have 70 per cent of nationals fully jabbed by the summer.

His comments follow positive remarks from Spain’s tourism minister who said the country would be ready to welcome back UK tourists in June.

The European Union previously set out plans for coronavirus vaccine certificates that could be used by British holidaymakers this summer.

Digital Green Certificates will be accepted as “proof” a person had a Covid-19 jab, received a negative test result or recovered from the virus, according to the European Commission’s proposal.

And Spain – which welcomed 18 million Brits in 2019 – said a digital certificate scheme is currently being trialled with a view to a wider rollout in June.

Spain’s tourism minister Fernando Valdes Verelst told a travel and tourism conference in Mexico: “I think the best thing that Governments right now can provide to travellers is certainty, give the proper information and the security that they can travel and they can come back to the countries.

“In those terms, in the European Union, we put in place a system … that provides us with digital certificate.

“Spain is going to be ready in June to use this digital certificate. We are doing a pilot programme in May, in all our 46 airports.

“We are going to give all these travellers that certainty. Spain is going to be ready in June to tell all travellers worldwide that you can visit us.”

The UK Government has not yet confirmed whether foreign holidays will be permitted from May 17 – the earliest possible date under the roadmap – or which destinations people can visit without self-isolating on their return.

Announcing the findings of the Global Travel Taskforce earlier this month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps did confirm a traffic light system would be used to categorise countries based on risk.
Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Mr Shapps boosted hope for foreign holidays within weeks as he revealed the NHS app will be used for travel passports.

In a trading update on Tuesday, low cost carrier Jet2 said they were concerned over a lack of details for international travel restarting this summer.

The company said: “Unsurprisingly, given the short-term uncertainty, customers are booking significantly closer to departure for summer 21.”

The airline added it was “disappointed at the lack of clarity contained in the Task Force’s report, in particular the as yet to be populated ‘traffic light’ framework for destinations, and full details and cost of the associated testing regime.”
Jet2 had already cancelled all holidays until June 24 in the hope of gaining more clarity on what travel can take place.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Ensuring free and open travel with our European partners is vitally important which is why we will be engaging the European Commission on reopening travel routes from the UK shortly.”

Source: Standard.Co.Uk