Travel companies are advertising holiday deals to red-list countries leaving this week despite the Government advising against all but essential travel to those destinations.
British Airways’ website lists the Maldives as a “top pick for 2021” while offering flights to the country for departure as soon as today for £611.
Ministers have insisted Britons should not book holidays to countries on the red list this summer and that trips must be only be taken for extraordinary circumstances such as visiting a sick relative.
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The Maldives is on the red list for international travel and passengers returning to the UK must quarantine at a Government-selected hotel for 10 days.
The 14-day Covid infection rate in the Maldives is currently 1469 per 100,000 people, according to latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control — almost 67 times that of the UK’s.
Teletext Holidays is advertising Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as “perfect summer holiday 2021 escapes” on its website homepage, despite both countries being on the red list.
The travel company is offering an all-inclusive package holiday to The Palm Jumeirah hotel in Dubai departing today and returning next Friday from £864 per person.
The UAE currently has a case rate of 256 infections per 100,000 people, while Turkey’s infection rate stands at 483.
Teletext Holidays did not respond to requests for comment.
The Prime Minister this week has been under pressure to clarify confusion around the traffic light system for international travel after MPs appeared to offer contradictory advice.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Tuesday that people could travel to amber-listed countries to “visit friends” as long as they quarantined upon return.
Boris Johnson later insisted that countries on the amber list, including most of Europe, are “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday — let me be very clear about that”.
British Airways is allowing visitors to book tickets to the Maldives via a partnership with Qatar Airways for flights leaving the UK on five days out of seven next week.
Visitors wishing to book flights to the Maldives on the company’s website must scroll through a list of spa resort suggestions before entering their payment details.
A British Airways spokesperson said the company is not offering flights to the Maldives on its own airplanes, adding that customers should always check the UK government website for the latest travel advice.
Other holiday companies are also offering all-inclusive trips to red list destinations for later this summer.
Tui was on Thursday offering 304 “summer holiday deals” to red list destinations including Turkey, the UAE and the Maldives, with the earliest available flights departing on 7 June.
After i contacted the travel firm, a Tui spokesperson said they would review their policy on red-list holidays departing in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, Jet2 is advertising Turkey as a “featured summer 2021” holiday destination, with flights to Antalya departing from 24 June and Bodrum from 25 June.
Jet2 did not respond to request for comment.
It comes as scientists are increasingly concerned that the resumption of international travel could help spread the new Indian Covid variant and other more transmissible coronavirus strains across the UK.
Deepti Gurdasani, clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, told i: “As long as the borders remain open, there’s a risk of new variants coming in. What we’re seeing right now is just the tip of the iceberg.”