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The Greek islands of Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes, and Zakynthos currently hold their place on the travel corridor list for the four nations of the UK. This means holidaymakers, in theory, can visit each destination without the fear of a mandatory quarantine period on their return home.
However, one travel expert has revealed a major flaw in this plan in what he describes as a “farce”.
Chris Wright is the managing director of Sunvil, a company boasting holidays to 52 Greek islands.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he pointed out that despite the Government’s travel corridors, Britons may still have to ensure 14-days of self-isolation if they are looking for an escape to one of the gorgeous islands this winter.
According to Mr Wright, there are currently no flights between the UK and the Greek islands, which means a stop off in quarantined Greece is one of the only options.
“The season finished at the end of October, there were plans to extend flights into November but these were cancelled when the UK lockdown was announced.
British Airways ran the last flight out of Corfu direct to the UK on the 7th of November,” the expert explained.
“The only route to the Greek Islands at the moment is via Athens. Greece is currently going through its own travel restrictions but, if these are lifted at the beginning of December and the UK allows guests to travel again, they will be required to quarantine as they will have travelled through a mainland airport.
”The reason flights are so sparse is due to a lack of winter traffic.”
Speaking previously to Travel Mole, Mr Wright described the addition of the Greek islands onto the travel corridor list as “pointless” during the off-season.
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“As currently you aren’t allowed to leave the UK unless for essential reasons then the whole thing is just a farce,” he added.H
owever, he further explained to Express.co.uk that there were some perks to the likes of Crete and Kos being featured on the list.
“The only benefit to the islands being on the corridor list is that they remain safe to travel to from an FCDO advice perspective,” he said.
“It is great that the islands have remained on the corridor list but, as far as quarantine is concerned, it will make little difference as there are no direct flights and so guests will have to quarantine.”
He added: “For the few guests that we do get, mainly walkers and those interested in a quieter Greece, the current restrictions will put them off.
“The sensible approach would be, if transiting through an airport that isn’t on the travel corridor list, as long as you stay airside and don’t stay for longer than a few hours then you remain exempt.”
Alongside this suggestion, though, Mr Wright also believes the Government needs to reevaluate its current approach to international travel.
“A travel corridor only works if it is a true corridor with both the UK and destination country allowing unrestricted access,” he explained.
“As we have seen with the latest changes this week, most of those countries added to the list don’t allow tourists in or you can’t get to them without transiting through a quarantined airport. So the whole thing becomes too complicated.“The first step would be to lift the blanket ban on travel.
“Disconnect the travel corridors from the FCDO advice, this would at least allow guests that want to travel and don’t mind quarantining the chance without the barriers of insurance cover.
“Secondly, allow customers transiting through airports for a short time to avoid quarantine and third, put in a testing regime that removes the need for (or reduces the length of ) quarantine.”
Like many in the travel industry, he is also calling for testing to be put in place.
“I think airport testing is realistically the only way that we will get people travelling again,” Mr Wright stated.
Despite this, he does have some concerns.
“If, as is widely reported, a test after 5 days and then release from quarantine after 7, is the government’s preferred option, I don’t think this is going to help enough,” the expert stated.
He also pointed out the risk which charging passengers for airport tests could pose for any attempt at strengthening the industry.
“Price will also be a factor,” said the expert.
Instead, Mr Wright points to the actions of authorities in Greece.
He explained: “Greece had a great system this summer of a percentage of each flight being tested, for free, with results being returned within 24hrs.
”Alas, without the right measures in place, Mr Wright has worries about the return of travel to its former glory.
“Until we can have a system where people are tested on arrival, a cheap and quick test that airports/airlines/travel companies cover the cost of, with no quarantine, I don’t think we are going to see confidence return,” he concluded.
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