The nights are approaching and Christmas is approaching, which can only mean one thing. It’s time to pull out that half-full bottle of Piz Buin, check your swimsuit is still fit, and dust off your passport. After a year of fallow in 2020/2021, winter holidays in the sun are back.
On October 7, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced that 47 countries were being taken off the red list, including some of the UK’s favorite long-haul holiday destinations. This means that from 4 a.m. on Monday, October 11, British nationals will be able to return from these countries without having to enter a quarantine hotel on their return. And if you are doubly vaccinated, there is no need to quarantine at all; all you need to do is take a test within 72 hours of arriving home.
First of all, a moment’s reflection for the countries that have been left behind. Following the announcement, only seven countries remain on the red list: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Haiti, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. In addition, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) continues to advise against travel to many countries for risks unrelated to Covid, as it did before the pandemic.
So where’s the menu for your winter getaway? For the sun, the sea and the sand, there is something to get excited about. The Seychelles and Cape Verde are back and open to the British. Mexico is perhaps the more attractive choice, however, thanks to its relaxed entry requirements; all you need to do is register your trip before your arrival and present a QR code at the border. The unique combination of Mayan ruins, pastel-toned towns and white sandy beaches will satisfy the appetite of any type of traveler. Now is the right time to go. Winter is the dry season in Mexico, and temperatures will hover into the twenties.
Many others have opened across the Atlantic. In the Caribbean, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago are not on the red list and each welcome British holidaymakers, with tests or paperwork. Crossing the equator, much of South America was finally given the green light after the entire continent was put on the Red List on February 15. Bolivia and Brazil are open to British arrivals, while border restrictions are easing in Chile and Uruguay. Now would be a good time to start stocking up on feather and glitter boas ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, which kicks off on February 25, 2022.
Looking east, the backpacker favorite Thailand has also been removed. Arriving in Thailand comes with a mandatory quarantine, although the Phuket Sandbox tourist program means British holidaymakers can visit without going under lock and key. Pencil in December 19, January 17, and February 17 – the dates of the next full moons, if you’re in the mood for breaking your inhibitions on a beach.
And in Africa, we have the long awaited big comeback from South Africa. The country welcomes the British with rules on testing, which is a small price to pay for the thrill of a Kruger safari, or perhaps a tour of the vineyards of the Western Cape region. Make your choice. Elsewhere, we see the return of favorite safaris from Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia, and the misty, gorilla-trampled mountains of Uganda and Rwanda have opened up as well. All of the above welcome the British.
With the exception of a swab or two and the handful of countries that remain on the Red List, the world is yours. Pop it while you can.