The travel industry has said it is still in the dark about how things will work following the Scottish Government's announcement that rules on international travel are to be relaxed.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister said Scotland would move to a traffic light system, depending on the state of coronavirus in other countries.

People arriving from red list countries will have to enter managed isolation at a designated hotel for 10 days while amber list arrivals will have to self-isolate at home.

From Monday, people coming to Scotland from any of the 12 green list countries and territories will have to take a test when they arrive, but will otherwise be free not to self-isolate.

READ MORE: Quarantine-free international travel allowed from Scotland as of next week

The countries announced on the green list are Australia, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, St Helena, Accession, Tristan da Cunha, Singapore and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

But whilst acknowledging that removing the travel ban is a step in the right direction, industry bosses have said they are still unclear on how a vaccination pass will work, with less than a week to go until the ‘take off’ outlined today.

The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland, welcomed the First Minister’s announcement as a “relief” to the sector - but warned Covid tests were still too expensive for families needing to travel and stressed further guidance is needed to understand what international travel to and from the country will mean for passengers.

Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA, said: “It’s a relief for the entire travel sector that limited international travel will be permitted from 17 May, in Scotland in a four nations’ approach.”

However, she added that “PCR tests remain an expensive option, particularly for those travelling as a family group”.

She said that the SPAA’s position remained that the cost of testing – particularly the requirement for a PCR test for each traveller on return to the UK – is “too high”, saying affordable testing in the form of antigen and lateral flow is needed.


She went on: “We’re still very keen to hear how a vaccination pass will work in practice in Scotland, with less than a week to go until the ‘take off’ outlined today.

“Travel agents and travellers do need to know how this will be implemented and what this will mean for anyone in their group who has not been vaccinated, for example due to age or underlying health conditions.”

Airlines UK, AGS Airports and Edinburgh Airport also issued a statement bemoaning the lack of detail on how the Scottish Governments wants international travel to go ahead.

It read: ”Whilst removing the travel ban is a step in the right direction it is very much a missed opportunity with so few countries making it onto the green list.

"We are again in the position of being a week away from a major change to operations and are waiting on details of how the Scottish Government wants this to work and how it will be managed.

"We need that detail as soon as possible to allow everyone to understand what is required."

READ MORE: Jason Leitch: 'Some form of Covid vaccine certification with alternatives for those without smart phones'

On the cost of testing, it added: "We appreciate there are many things to consider but we encourage the Scottish Government to work with us on making testing more affordable rather than it being a barrier for those who need and want to travel.

“We would also encourage government to take advantage of the vaccination rollout to open up many more green countries in the EU at the new review point in three weeks, as the EU themselves have proposed, and to work where possible as the four nations to ensure consistency and avoid confusion for operators and passengers.

“The Scottish Government must also be very clear about when and how we can encourage visitors from green list countries to try and save the thousands of jobs in Scotland that depend upon international travellers.”

A spokesperson for Barrhead Travel reiterated the need for further clarity.

They said: “We know our customers will have a number of questions about today’s announcement and the future of travel.

"The Scottish Government must also confirm its plans regarding the digital health passport and how we may utilise the NHS app to track vaccine status and negative testing for travel abroad.”

Earlier today health secretary for England Matt Hancock said that holidaymakers who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to “prove” their status to other countries by using the NHS app.

The app is currently used to book medical appointments and order repeat prescriptions in England, and is different from the Covid-19 app.

People in England were told that those who do not have access to a smartphone and know the country they are travelling to requires proof of vaccination status can call the NHS helpline 119 from Monday and ask for a letter to be posted to them.

Mr Hancock told Sky News: “The certification, being able to show that you’ve had a jab, is going to be necessary for people to be able to travel.

“So, we want to make sure people can get access to that proof, not least to show governments of other countries that you’ve had the jab if they require that in order to arrive.

“Israel’s a good example. They’ve said that they’ll want proof of you having had two jabs for you to go to Israel as and when they open up. They’re on the green list of course.

“So we will make sure that you can get access to that, to prove that point.”

Mr Hancock said the use of so-called vaccine passports is “different to the question of whether we require people to be certified as Covid-secure before doing things domestically”.

He added: “The focus for the time being on this certification question, is making sure that people can travel internationally and show that they’ve had the jab if that’s what another country requires.”


A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the First Minister said today, we continue to be highly cautious on international travel, given the risk of new variants. The four UK Chief Medical Officers have said that green-list status should be the exception, rather than the rule, with countries added to the list only where there are very good reasons for doing so.

“Advice from clinicians is to continue to use PCR testing for international travel, which is more accurate and allows us to test for variants of concern. We will consider lateral flow testing further as technology improves and more data is available. We are also working to provide people with a record of their vaccination status if they need this for international travel, although not many countries require a record of COVID-19 vaccination status at present.

“Everyone wishing to travel abroad should be following strict protocols set out to minimise transmission and should check the entry requirements for their destination country on the UK Government’s foreign travel advice page.”