Industry leaders reacted angrily to the government announcement that the Balearics will re-join the amber list of countries for international travel from Monday.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade warned the latest news risks “shattering consumer trust” and insisted the current traffic light framework “is not working”.
Julie Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said the move left made the government’s green list “seemingly meaningless” and called for “this ludicrous cycle” to stop.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced via Twitter that the Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca would return to the amber list.
The British Virgin Islands will also move from green to amber.
Alderslade said: “Today’s announcement reinforces the belief that the current government framework for international travel is not working as it was designed to.
“While the vaccination programme is permitting a full reopening of the domestic economy, international travel between safe countries – with low infections and high vaccination rates – is being portrayed as though it is a serious danger to public health.
“Moving countries between the tiers like this is shattering consumer trust during an already unpredictable booking season.”
He said: “It is time the government implemented a consistent and transparent travel policy rather than the current roller coaster ride of changes.”
Lo Bue-Said said the announcement left the travel industry “yet again looking down the barrel of the worst Ground Hog Day”.
She said: “The fact that Croatia and Bulgaria have moved onto the green list makes no discernible difference – agents realistically have no more to sell.
“After over a year of lobbying, the industry is still last to hear the news from Government, allowing no time to plan and properly support customers.”
Lo Bue-Said added: “Speculation throughout the day from non-official sources has been irresponsible and only added to the confusion. This ludicrous cycle must stop.
“The government must get a grip of the traffic light system which is surely unfit for purpose when it does not align with other countries . . . and ensure travel operators are the first to know of any updates so they can help minimise disruption for travellers.
“Moving to green is seemingly meaningless now and offers no confidence to traveller or travel agent. The government must surely recognize that a life-line of sector specific financial support is crucial now.”
The latest changes will come in from 4am on Monday July 19 meaning UK travellers to Balearics who are not fully vaccinated will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days on their return.
However, there will be no change for adults who are fully vaccinated or children under 18 because the requirement to quarantine is due to be scrapped for those vaccinated from Monday.
Green list destinations Croatia and Taiwan will join the green watch list at the same time, meaning they are at risk of moving to amber. However, Bulgaria and Hong Kong will move from amber to the green list.
Shapps also announced the addition of Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone to the red list of countries.
He said the changes were “to safeguard our domestic vaccine rollout”
“We’ll keep these measures under review and be guided by the latest data – we won’t hesitate to take action if needed to protect public health.
Shapps said: “We’ve seen the rates double and also the rate of positivity of these tests double, meaning we’re going to need to move quickly, as we said we might always have to do.”