SCOTTISH holidaymakers are looking enviously this week towards our neighbours in England who are getting their suitcases out again and preparing for their first holiday in six months or a year.

The UK Government finally announced yesterday its much-anticipated traffic light system for England, with Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland and Israel the main benefactors as green light countries, while France, Spain and Greece are amber and Turkey is among the new red countries.

The ban on non-essential travel abroad from England will be lifted on May 17 as part of the UK Government’s coronavirus roadmap, which will pave the way for summer holidays abroad.

The Scottish travel sector welcomed the news but now challenges the Scottish Government to follow suit.

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) said: “Grant Shapps’s announcement is a positive first step for travellers and travel agents alike and is to be welcomed. However, we now await Scotland’s position on this before we can be confident of the restart of international travel for the Scottish travel sector.

“The final meeting of the Scottish Government Aviation Working Group was a constructive one, with positive news that the chief medical officers in Scotland were in agreement that all four nations should move forward together.

“We now fervently hope Scotland’s First Minister will follow suit, giving the green light to travel, for all reasons, to the countries unveiled by Grant Shapps, and that the Scottish restart will be concurrent with that across the rest of the UK.

“Travel agents, who have had nothing to sell and no one to sell to for over a year now, will be in a position to advise and guide their clients to where and how they can travel.”

The transport secretary had suggested that the hold-up in the Scottish position had only been because of the Holyrood election and that he suspects that “by and large” we will see the same conclusions as “the science is the science”.

The SPAA cautioned travellers, though, that regulations may be different when they are abroad.

Dooey added: “We anticipate that those travelling to visit family, for business purposes or for a long-awaited holiday will welcome the news and will have confidence to book trips.

“However, it’s important that travellers understand that the green-light countries may have their own specific requirements for travellers in addition to the UK’s testing requirements.”

BUT she is confident about more countries opening up for holidaymakers going abroad.

Dooey also wants more information on vaccination and testing. She said: “We’re very keen to hear how the vaccination pass will work in practice in Scotland.

“With less than a fortnight to go until the ‘take off’ outlined by Grant Shapps, 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.

“Our position remains that the cost of testing – particularly the requirement for a PCR test for each traveller on return to the UK – is too high.”

Travellers to green-light countries will have to undergo less rigorous rules.

And there will be no need to quarantine on return, or take additional tests, unless the post-arrival test is positive.

AMONG the restrictions placed on visitors to amber countries will be the need to self-isolate at home for 10 days.

Visitors to red countries will need to, among other measures, book a 10-day hotel quarantine and testing package for each member of their group before departure.

Barrhead Travel expressed regret that the green list had not been more extensive and repeated the need for Scotland to get in step.

President Jacqueline Dobson said: “We broadly welcome the announcement that international travel will resume on May 17 as it is the first major step on the road to industry recovery.

“We are, however, very disappointed that the green list has many more destinations that are impractical to visit than those that could be visited restriction-free.

“We hope to see more destinations added to the list in the coming weeks as people begin to think about summer holidays.

“As a UK-wide travel business, we have always advocated a four-nations approach and we need urgent clarity on whether the Scottish Government will follow suit.

“Without Scotland’s commitment to come into line with the UK Government approach, the Scottish travel industry risks further setbacks.

“With airports such as Manchester and Newcastle both within striking distance for Scottish holidaymakers, many will likely take the decision to cross the Border to travel, leaving our airports and global connectivity exposed to further damage.

“Customers will be disheartened there are not more destinations available to travel to, particularly those who have plans to reunite with family or loved ones. There is a significant pent-up demand for travel of all types and there will be real disappointment from many.”