As the travel industry continued to rage against the government’s implementation of the “traffic light” scheme, Britain’s biggest holiday company has cancelled tens of thousands of early summer trips to Turkey.
The popular Mediterranean destination is one of 50 countries on the “red list” from which arrivals to the UK must go into hotel quarantine.
While there is a possibility Turkey may be moved from the highest risk category at the time of the next review, due on 24 June, Tui is telling anyone booked to travel there before 12 July that their holiday will not be going ahead.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Due to ongoing uncertainty, we’re unfortunately cancelling all holidays to Turkey up to and including 11 July. We’re in the process of updating customers and our web.”
Customers are now entitled to a full refund within two weeks – though they can alternatively choose a different and/or later holiday.
Tui has cancelled all holidays to Cyprus, Croatia, Italy and Spain until 20 June, and to Bulgaria, Morocco and Tunisia until 27 June.
Its rival, Jet2, has suspended all international departures until 1 July – with Turkish holidays cancelled until 22 July.
When international leisure travel was legalised on 17 May, initially Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland were the only accessible European nations on the quarantine-free “green list”.
The travel industry assumed that at the first review, on 3 June, the range of options would be expanded. But instead Portugal was moved to the “amber list,” from which 10 days of self-isolation is required.
At the time, Tui and its rivals expressed dismay. Andrew Flintham, managing director for Tui UK, called it “another step back for our industry”.
“Despite multiple requests, the government has refused to be transparent about the data requirements for green, amber and red destinations,” he said.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2, said: “We simply cannot understand why more destinations across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are not allowed to open to UK holidaymakers.
“We know international travel can restart safely, so we urge the government to urgently reconsider its approach and work with the industry to help us achieve that.”
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, told Parliament on Monday that decisions were taken on the advice of the Joint Biosecurity Centre.