Green means go. Amber means...?
The world is slowly but surely opening up, and from our offices in Old Isleworth - after the rain clouds had passed - it has once more been possible to hear the aircraft taking off and landing at Heathrow.
As with the weather, the reopening of international travel has brought a period of uncertainty - mixed messages, false statements and general confusion. Day-by-day, the media news machine has gone up several gears, leaving many - travellers and some within the industry - in a state of confusion.
I therefore felt it was important to write to you to provide the latest information and to remind you that the team and I are always at the end of the phone to answer any questions you may have. Fifty years' of experience goes a long way when faced with the complexities of travel today; and not being ones to rest on our laurels, we have ensured that we have access to the latest, unambiguous facts.
Firstly, it is not forbidden to travel. This applies as equally to a destination categorised by the government as Green, as it does to those categorised as Amber or Red. However, Travel restrictions I.e. where we can or cannot go are managed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and not by the Department for Transport who are responsible for the traffic light system. The FCDO has made it quite clear that, currently, one can travel to all destinations whether Green, Amber or Red. What the traffic light system regulates are the testing requirements and whether there is a need to self-isolate (Amber) or quarantine (Red) on your return.
Testing is part of today's travel experience. Regardless of where you travel, you will be asked to undergo tests for Covid-19 - to a greater or lesser extent. The UK government requires all returning travellers to have a PCR, LAMP or Rapid Antigen test within 72 hours of departure from overseas. In addition, travellers are required to take a PCR test on/before Day 2 of their return to the UK - plus a further test on Day 8 if returning from an Amber destination. Furthermore, some destination countries have introduced the requirement for visitors to hold evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result 72 hours before departing from the UK or proof of vaccination. Regardless of where you are travelling you will be furnished by us with the correct information and how to go about obtaining the relevant tests.
Travel is a choice and always has been. Some people, including many of our own clients, took the opportunity to travel abroad earlier this week as did I and our chairman. Others feel anxious about the thought of international travel and the procedures in place.
Travel insurance is essential. Travel insurance has always been important but with Covid-19 and the ever-changing world in which we live in today, it is now vitally important that all travellers have a good quality, comprehensive insurance from the time of booking.
Destinations are ready to welcome us. Over the last 12 months, governments across the globe have taken steps to safeguard their citizens and reduce the spread of the virus. Some governments have taken the step to open their borders and to welcome travellers again - whilst implementing measures to mitigate risk. These destinations are ready to welcome us with open arms, socially-distanced greetings and with the warmest of smiles.
At Sunvil, the team and I are continuously monitoring developments both here and abroad and we are keen to share our knowledge with you. You'll find regular updates in our dedicated blogs and on our specific testing page.
Portugal, the Azores and Madeira are all 'Green' destinations. We have partnered with the Alentejo Promotion Office to offer all guests, staying for five nights or more in the region, two free PCR tests. Madeira is offering one complimentary PCR test for visitors and the Azores archipelago is offering travellers a voucher to use as payment in local restaurants, bars and with activity suppliers. It is clear that they are looking forward to our visit.
Elsewhere, our destinations - including Greece and Cyprus - are on the UK amber list.
This does not mean that you cannot travel, and many of you have now penned in your trip with us. Island life is tranquil, the flowers are in bloom and the warmth of the sun is tantalisingly close.
Whilst we await the next government update on 07 June, we have introduced our Coronavirus policy for all those travelling before 12 June - this offers the flexibility to defer the planned holiday with no administration fee or to cancel without a loss of monies paid. Increased flexibility, with our Peace of Mind Promise, has also been adopted to provide reassurance and breathing space.
Finally, we have also negotiated reduced testing prices for our travellers, and our local partners are on hand to assist in the arrangement of the UK's 'Test to return'.
We will continue to be honest in our dealings with you and promise to put you first. If you have any questions, anything at all, please contact us.