Jamaica remains as one of 30 or so non-red-list destinations where the Foreign Office (FCDO) is continuing to warn against non-essential travel.
It is also still advising against holidays in the Bahamas and Aruba, neither of which are on the UK red travel list, although some other Caribbean islands, such as Antigua and Barbados, are not subject to a travel advisory.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said yesterday that 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.
“We’re striking the right balance between keeping people safe which remains our priority and giving them the freedom to exercise personal responsibility, while supporting the travel sector as it continues to recover,” she said.
In total, it removed its essential-travel only advice from 32 non-red countries yesterday, including the key holiday destinations of Malaysia and Gambia. The full list is below.
The FCDO said it advises against travel when it assesses the risk to travelling British nationals to be ‘unacceptably high’, across a range of risks including safety and security.
Before today’s changes, advised against travel on COVID-19 grounds to 117 countries and territories.
It is still advising against travel to 85 destinations, but with only 54 countries on the red list that leaves 31 other destinations to which the Department for Transport (DfT) says it’s safe to travel and the FCDO says it’s not.
Jamaica Tourist Board’s UK Director Elizabeth Fox said: “We respect the UK government’s decision regarding advice to travel to Jamaica and look forward to seeing that decision changed as soon as possible.
“Our absolute priority is the health and safety of our visitors, hospitality workers and community. We will continue to develop and focus on our “Jamaica Cares” focused programme that delivers robust tourism COVID-19 health and safety protocols as well as our innovative Resilient Corridors and look forward to welcoming back more UK visitors.”
While ABTA welcomed the FCDO’s decision to remove its essential-only travel advice for 32 countries yesterday, AITO Chairman Chris Rowles lambasted the move, pointing out that they were few holiday destinations included among the 32.
“Is this a joke in extremely poor taste?”, he said. “The FCDO can only attract ridicule when it claims that it is ‘striking the right balance between keeping people safe, which remains our priority, and giving them the freedom to exercise personal responsibility, while supporting the travel sector as it continues to recover’ and then 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 & Nieu sit on the globe?
“The ivory towers in which the FCDO is based, remote from the real world, might have given them altitude sickness – how else to explain such a singularly bonkers statement?
“Gambia is one of the few places on the list within a five/six-hour flight to which holidaymakers might reasonably travel for winter sunshine; the rest are extremely long-haul, challenging journeys which simply won’t merit a tick on the majority of travellers’ wish lists.”
AITO added that it hopes that the DfT and FCDO will align and add some ‘more palatable destinations’ to the approved list, as promised at a briefing with stakeholders on Monday.
“If we can help Liz Truss and Grant Shapps with some suggestions – perhaps well-established destinations such as those in Latin America, Africa and Asia, which are already open to many other nationalities, and which have good infrastructure – they have but to let us know,” added Mr Rowles.
The countries and territories where the FCDO lifted its advice against non-essential travel yesterday are:
- America Samoa
- Tokelau & Niue
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- Marshall Islands
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Solomon Islands