Britons’ prospects of booking a foreign holiday this summer have been given a boost, with the government saying coronavirus passports will be available “as soon as possible”.
Many tourist hotspots will require visitors to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide proof of a recent negative test before entering the country.
Coronavirus passports, also known as health certificates, would allow holidaymakers to meet this requirement.
Under the government’s roadmap for easing restrictions, foreign holidays for people living in England could be allowed as early as 17 May.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are working on a solution to enable residents to prove their COVID-19 status, including vaccination status, to other countries on the outbound leg.
“We are working on this as a priority and intend to have the solution ready as soon as possible.”
It comes after the Daily Telegraph reported that a government official had told travel industry leaders that “we aim to give people the ability to prove their vaccine status by the time international travel restarts where other countries require it”.
According to the newspaper’s report, COVID passports would at first only be available for those traveling overseas, with a wider domestic scheme unlikely to be ready next month.
Meanwhile, Spain’s tourism minister has told Sky News that the country is “desperate to welcome” Britons to its shore this summer.
“I think we will be ready here in Spain,” Fernando Valdes said.
“We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we’ll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays.”
He said COVID passports are “going to help us” and that Madrid was “pushing hard” to persuade the EU to strike agreements to restart travel between “third parties such as the UK” and member states.
“If we reach this kind of agreements from the month of June, we will be able to have a summer,” Mr. Valdes said.
“Probably not as the one we had in 2019, but obviously the restart of tourism again.”
The Transport Select Committee has warned that the restart of international travel is in danger because of “vague and costly” proposals that fall short of kickstarting the aviation and tourism sectors once more.
In a highly critical report, the group of MPs said international travel has had its “wings clipped” by the “cautious” report from the government’s Global Travel Taskforce.
The task force reported back earlier this month and confirmed plans for a traffic light system for international travel, with countries divided between “green”, “amber” and “red” destinations.
Under the proposals, there would be different travel restrictions applied to each category of country, which would be determined depending on their perceived COVID risk.
Quarantine-free travel would be allowed to “green” countries, while 10-day isolation periods would be required for those returning from “amber” destinations, and a 10-day quarantine period in a hotel would be mandated for those coming back from “red” countries.
The MPs also found, even where detail is provided, costs may be disproportionate to the risk and add £500 to the cost of a family-of-four traveling to the safest parts of the globe where the vaccine rollout is comparable to the UK.
Under the task force’s plans, a pre-departure coronavirus test would be needed before heading to a “green” country, with a PCR test needed on or before day two of their arrival back into the UK.