Portugal Ends Suspense, Will Lift Curbs on U.K. Tourists
(Bloomberg) -- Portugal will allow British tourists to visit its sunny beaches starting next week, ending a day of suspense over whether a reopening of leisure travel between the two nations would actually take place.
British tourists will be allowed to enter the southern European nation from May 17 with a negative Covid-19 test, Portugal’s tourism authority said in a statement on Friday.
The change, ending months of pandemic-induced restrictions, coincides with the U.K.’s decision last week to reverse a ban on foreign leisure trips. Portugal was one of a handful of countries placed on Britain’s “green list” of destinations that don’t require a quarantine on return, so hopes were high among airlines and travelers alike that the opening would be reciprocal.
“We look forward to reuniting friends and family and taking customers on a long awaited holiday this summer,” discount carrier EasyJet Plc said in an emailed statement.
Tension had grown since Thursday, when a widely expected decision by Portugal didn’t materialize. The stakes were especially high for soccer fans, after the Champions League soccer final featuring two English teams was moved to Porto. The May 29 contest was originally scheduled for Turkey, which is battling a virus outbreak and was red-listed by Britain.
The return of British tourists -- the biggest group of visitors to Portugal -- is already bolstering demand for flights and hotel rooms for the summer season. Carriers including Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet and Portuguese flag carrier TAP have been adding seats from the U.K.
Pestana Hotel Group, Portugal’s biggest operator, has registered an increase in reservations from British nationals, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Broader progress on travel within Europe was made on Friday, when Italy said separately that it would lift quarantine restrictions on tourists from the U.K., with Israel and other European Union countries starting May 16. Travelers with a negative Covid-19 test won’t need to undergo quarantine, a health ministry official said.
Italy isn’t on the U.K.’s green list, meaning Brits determined to go will need to quarantine on return. But as a major destination within Europe it will likely attract scores of tourists from places like Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
British nationals were already allowed to travel to Portugal if they were a returning resident or for so-called “essential purposes,” while the Portuguese island of Madeira has been allowing inoculated travelers from countries including the U.K. since February.
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