Transport secretary Grant Shapps has told BBC Breakfast he is no longer advising people against booking their summer holidays, and says certainty on the outlook for the summer is just weeks away.
Shapps said a list of "green" destinations under the government’s new traffic light system for international travel would be published in the next two to three weeks, and would allow people to start making "their own decisions" on travel.
His comments on Friday morning (9 April) came after the government published the headline findings of the government’s Global Travel Taskforce review of how international travel can restart safely over the coming months, with a 17 May resumption still a possibility.
"The big difference today is that up until now, when you’ve had me on over the past few months, I’ve been saying to people ’don’t book a holiday, it’s illegal to go away’," Shapps told presenter Naga Munchetty. "It is still [illegal], of course, you can’t travel [overseas for leisure] until 17 May at the earliest.
"But this is probably the first time I can come on and say I’m not advising people not to book to go away this summer. Instead, I’m saying to people in two or three weeks, you’re going to have that green list of countries, and amber and red, so people will be able to take some of their own decisions on this, and obviously should look carefully at travel policies and refunds.
"Things like that have improved a lot since last year, a lot of the airlines have much better policies in place for refunds than they did a year ago. So people will be able to make more informed choices, and that’s what this framework gives them."
Munchetty added: "So are you telling people they should wait two or three weeks and then they’ll be able to book a holiday?"
Shapps responded: "Yes, so for the first time, we’re not advising people against thinking about booking, so that’s a big change.
"In two to three weeks’ time, they’ll have the list of countries that fall into the different categories, and that will hopefully provide people some guidance and we will proceed carefully and securely, I’m afraid, still having some tests.
"But nonetheless, for the first time families will be able to reunite, I hope business will be able to get under way and, yes, people can potentially think about those summer holidays too."
Asked whether he had booked an overseas trip yet, Shapps said he was "following his own advice". "No, not yet," he said. "I’m going to wait two or three weeks and see what the situation is with green list countries.
"I think there’s a lot of hope in the air this summer, we’ve done so well with the vaccination, people have worked so hard with the lockdowns, we’ve just got to wait for everyone else to catch up in destination countries. And now we have a framework in place to say how that will work."