As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to share the UK government's latest thinking on easing foreign travel restrictions today, Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland, has welcomed the widely anticipated introduction of a “traffic light” system for foreign travel.

Speaking to the BBC this morning, the head of the UK's largest tour operator said: “We are all trying to reopen the UK, the economy, and travel is an intrinsic part of that.

“So we are looking for some really clear guidelines so we welcome the traffic light system. We think it will give us some clear rules to work with and also it will make it obvious what data is driving what decisions.”

Mr Flintham said the company was gearing up to restart and added: “All our teams are getting ready for restart, we believe and we hope the 17th [of May] will be possible.

“We think with the amazing vaccine programme and the greater provision of testing, we think we should be able to get going.”

The TUI boss added that he believed there was still time before the summer season for European countries to get coronavirus cases under control again.

Asked what the most likely destinations will be when foreign travel resumes, he said:

“Cyprus have come out and been very positive, Greece and Turkey have come out and been very positive, and Spain again."


“So I think all these European countries, whilst to a degree they are struggling with their rates at the moment, we are still a significant period away from the summer season properly opening up, we are probably 11 weeks away.

“The world has been changing on a weekly basis, never mind an 11-weekly basis.

“So we are still positive about those destinations. We are also positive that the Caribbean and some of those destinations will open up.”

The Tui chief said vaccine passports and testing were both ways of allowing people to travel, but said Tui and its subsiidary brands like homson, First Choice, and Thomson Cruises would take their lead from the UK government.

“Our position is we want it to be as wide as possible, so the idea of a vaccine passport is great, but it’s only one way of getting to be able to travel.

“Ideally free, or cheap testing that is freely available, is another major way of getting people moving and also being able to certify that people have actually had the disease and have recovered, therefore they have created these antibodies.”

Boris Johnson will unveil his road map for lifting foreign travel restrictions in a televised press briefing at 5pm today, which is likely to include the intention to open up some countries to UK travellers from as early as May 17.

Laat week First Minister Mark Drakeford called for Johnson to delay the May 17 start date for international travel because of increasing Covid case numbers in Europe and the possibility of new variants entering the UK.