British tourists could be refused entry to Portugal despite it being on UK's green list

13 May 2021, 19:58 | Updated: 13 May 2021, 20:03

Charlotte Lynch

By Charlotte Lynch

It's reported tourists could be turned away from Portugal next week, despite the country being on the UK's green travel list.

The EU is recommending a ban on all but non-essential travel from non-member states, bar a handful of countries.

It comes as 12,000 British football fans are set to travel to Porto in just over two weeks time for the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

LBC's Charlotte Lynch reports:

I've spent the day trying to book a trip to Portugal for Monday 17th May - the day billed as the big return of holidays.

I planned to travel to report on the process for LBC - from the COVID test 72 hours prior, to the long forms and inevitable airport queues, and then eventually, the beach.

But it soon became clear we could have to abandon ship (or rather, plane).

It's currently likely I could get through all of those formalities - just to be turned away from the airport when I get to the other side.

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A ban remains in place on tourists from non-member states entering the EU for leisure, except for a handful of countries. Britain is not one of them.

Flights are still set to leave Birmingham, Manchester and London on Monday morning - bound for Faro and Lisbon.

But airlines are warning they could be forced to cancel, because they will bear the brunt of the cost, if they have to bring all of their passengers straight back to the UK.

Europe's largest travel company, TUI, said bookings to Portugal had "skyrocketed" by 182% since Portugal was green-listed, and they've had to switch to larger planes.

But they are now warning they could be forced to stay grounded, until the ban on non-essential travel from the UK is lifted.

I've been told Ryanair are poised to do the same, if the ban remains.

Even travel expert Simon Calder is confused. He told me he expects Portugal would "take advantage of this", because they're desperate for the economy boost that British tourism would bring.

Read more: Greek islands to vaccinate all residents by end of June to boost tourism

He's been awaiting clarity all week, which still hasn't come. Either way, if they do make a last minute change, it'll come at very short notice for travel firms and tourists.

Portugal's government wants to take UK tourists, but it is currently prevented from doing so because of the EU rule.

Lisbon currently holds the bloc's presidency, so it would be overturning its own ban to suit itself. That could upset countries like Spain, another EU member state which relies heavily on tourism.

British tourists could still be barred from visiting Portugal
British tourists could still be barred from visiting Portugal. Picture: PA

There will be a race to resolve this within just over two weeks' time - as 12,000 football fans are set to fly out to Porto for the Champions League final.

It had to be moved from Turkey, which is now on the UK's red list.

Wembley has missed out on hosting the rearranged match despite the fact it's between two English teams, Manchester City and Chelsea, because no agreement could be reached on quarantine exemptions for the thousands of sponsors, VIPs and broadcasters set to fly over from abroad.

The EU is understood to be meeting to discuss its UK travel ban next week.