Holidays: Travel expert shares urgent warning as Croatia & Austria struck off ‘safe’ list

Holidays are always a bit stressful to book and organise but the coronavirus crisis has well and truly trumped any past troubles. If you book a holiday these days, there’s no guarantee if you’ll ever actually make it – and the decision might well be entirely out of your hands. As part of the new normal, the UK government now has a long list of countries to which Britons are allowed to travel.

However, the list is far from being set in stone. Today, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced that Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago are to be imminently added to the UK’s quarantine list.

Anyone heading back from these countries after 4am on Saturday 22 August will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Not only will this prove a nightmare for those currently abroad in those destinations but it will also be a thorn in the side of those hoping to get away in the coming weeks.

Travel expert Simon Calder today shared his travel advice with Britons.

He warned that for Britons in Croatia and Austria, getting back before the deadline will be much more difficult than what the tourists in France faced last week when it was taken off the ‘safe’ list with very little warning.

“You’ll recall that last Thursday, the government suddenly applied the same deadline for people in France, the Netherlands and Malta,” said Calder.

“What’s different though, is that for the vast majority of those people, there was one obvious way out which was going to the Channel as quick as they could and travelling across by 4am.

“Unfortunately, it’s not that easy from Croatia, which is where the bulk of people affected by this will be – about 20,000 there, I calculate.

“Many of them are due to fly back on Saturday and Sunday [when there are] loads of flights to the UK, as opposed to tomorrow, which is the day when most people will be trying to get back before that 4am Saturday deadline.

“The only flights I’m aware of from Croatia to the UK are from Zagreb, the capital – a long way from the tourist areas – into Heathrow, and they, last time I looked, were priced at about £400 one way.”

Calder warned that tourists looking to flee home will face some very steep prices.

“I think that, with no direct flights from the holiday airports, there will be a lot of people looking at travelling via maybe Italy or Germany to get back, but that is going to involve, I’m afraid, spending hundreds of pounds.”

Many people are likely now left wondering now whether it’s worth bothering with a foreign holiday amid these uncertain times.

Grant Shapps,the transport Secretary, cautioned on Twitter today: “As with all air bridge countries, please be aware that things can change quickly.

“Only travel if you are content to unexpectedly 14-day quarantine if required (I speak from experience!)”

Calder pointed out that this huge uncertainty has had a terrible effect on travellers’ confidence.

“When you’re going on holiday and you’re by the pool, you’re having to check BBC news every five minutes to make sure that your country hasn’t been put on the quarantine list that’s not exactly relaxing,” he said.

“So, unfortunately, travellers’ confidence is still being knocked, there will be 20,000 people wondering what they should be doing right now – can they tolerate two weeks of self isolation at home, almost like house arrest, or do they try and get back in time?

Meanwhile, of course, all those lucky people who ignore the government’s advice – they’re now in Portugal.”

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