Demand for travel to 'red list' countries such as the Maldives, Mexico and Sri Lanka is surging amid hopes they could be among the next destinations downgraded in the UK Government's next travel shake-up.
Travel experts anticipate a 'large increase in bookings this weekend' for foreign trips if the Government goes ahead with tearing up testing rules for the fully vaccinated in time for the half-term holidays.
Under a major raft of changes to be announced today, the double-jabbed will no longer have to take costly PCR tests when they return from abroad - and will instead only need a cheaper lateral flow test.
The 'pre-departure tests' that travellers are forced to take before flying home are also likely to be scrapped amid a long-awaited review of the travel restrictions that will also see the controversial traffic light rules radically redrawn.
Expedia said today that Mexico is the most popular red list country when comparing this month with September 2020, with a rise in interest of 70 per cent, while the Maldives is up 30 per cent and Sri Lanka 20 per cent.
And Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline this morning: 'I think you'll see a large increase in bookings this weekend, if the Prime Minister goes ahead with the measures.'
Skyscanner said it had seen a 92 per cent increase in the last full week for return searches by UK travellers with Dubai, 'everywhere', Alicante, Malaga and Dublin in the top spots, while interest in Turkey has also seen an uptick.
TravelSuperMarket added that average holiday prices to Spain for this month and next are 38 per cent down on the same period in 2019 given that it remains on the amber list, but green list Malta is up 29 per cent.
Expedia said today that Mexico is the most popular red list country when comparing this month with September 2020, with a rise in interest of 70 per cent. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is pictured above
Expedia also said it had seen an increase in interest of 30 per cent for the Maldives. The beach at Gili Lankanfushi is pictured
Demand for Sri Lanka is up 20 per cent this month compared to last year. The Nine Arch Bridge in Demodara is pictured
Amid the changes, instead of the green, amber and red system that was introduced in May, there will be a simplified 'go/no-go' regime. All current amber list countries will effectively become green – or 'go' destinations.
And the number of red list, or 'no-go' countries, will be slashed in half. This means popular destinations such as Turkey are likely to open up to fully jabbed Britons next month, although Mr Charles said this 'could go either way'.
Speaking about the surge in demand, an Expedia spokesman told MailOnline today: 'Overall, Mexico has proven the most popular destination with the greatest interest of approximately 70 per cent this month when compared to this time last year. We also saw an interest increase of 30 per cent for the Maldives and 20 per cent for Sri Lanka.
'No doubt these surges are a result of the upcoming update that the need for expensive PCR tests for the double vaccinated will be scrapped - saving travellers money and putting their minds at ease when booking their next holiday.
'This surge in interest also shows that the public is confident to travel abroad when these guidelines lift and eager to explore these once-in-a-lifetime destinations.'
Skyscanner said that in the last full week of September 6 to 13, it had seen a 92 per cent increase for all economy, return searches by UK traveller.
It added that in terms of upcoming October half term week, weekly booking volumes for trips in half term have increased by 22 per cent in the last week.
A survey of more than 2,000 British adults, conducted last week by Skyscanner and OnePoll, found that 43 per cent would be more likely to book travel abroad if the current system was changed. It also found that 36 per cent still find the traffic light system confusing.
Meanwhile Emma Coulthurst from TravelSupermarket told MailOnline: 'In the last few weeks, we have seen a rise in people searching and booking holidays for September and October.
'We anticipate it is people who did not make plans this summer abroad but spent their holiday time in the UK due to the rule changes coming late.'
All current 'amber list' countries will effectively become green – or 'go' destinations –while the number of 'red list', or 'no-go' countries, will be slashed in half. This means popular holiday destinations such as Turkey are likely to open up to fully jabbed Britons next month
She said prices to Spain for this month and next are 38 per cent down compared to the same period in 2019 - adding that the country has really suffered from a lack of demand because of its position on the amber list.
TravelSupermarket has crunched its holiday price comparison data to identify the 25 beach destinations which are offering the, on average, best value September and October package holidays from the UK.
The data is for any duration of holiday, and in brackets below is the average percentage price difference of the package