Holidaymakers will face an insurance nightmare unless the Foreign Office drops its “arbitrary” ban on non-essential travel to 83 amber countries that will be opened to vaccinated Britons from July 19, consumer experts have said.

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to popular destinations including Italy, the Bahamas, Montenegro, Germany, Austria and Slovenia because of the in-country Covid risks.

Yet from July 19 the Government will drop its amber travel ban to all those six countries – and the 77 others – and allow fully vaccinated Britons and their children to fly to them for holidays without having to quarantine on their return.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth (FCDO) advice means any holidaymaker visiting them will not be covered by normal travel insurance. Official tour operators will also not take people to them because of the insurance risks.

The disparity stems from the criteria the FCDO applies to its advice, which is based on in-country risks such as the ability of the country’s health service to cope if Britons contract Covid while on holiday, as well as other factors such as terror threats.

By contrast, the Department for Transport’s red, amber and green traffic light system is largely based on the risk of Covid being imported to the UK which is significantly reduced for people who have been fully vaccinated.

Travel countries on the red, green and amber list

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “Getting rid of unnecessary and expensive PCR testing at the upcoming criteria review is a top priority as is ensuring consistency on travel advice.

“Why is it safe to travel to Spain and France but not Italy and Germany, if the risk of importing the virus is mitigated by the vaccines and testing?

“There needs to be proper alignment and transparency instead of the current arbitrary system which just leaves everyone confused, industry included.”

Rory Boland, the Which? Travel Editor, warned that holidaymakers’ travel plans could be further disrupted by other country’s restrictions such as Italy and Cyprus both requiring quarantine for Britons.

“It’s important this summer that people take into consideration the barriers that could still prevent them from travelling before rushing to book, to save them [from] being left out of pocket,” he said.

“Other countries continue to impose restrictions for UK arrivals, and it’s been suggested several millions of people could have plans disrupted if they are told to self-isolate after a coronavirus exposure.

“It’s essential that anyone looking to book a holiday looks for a good package holiday provider with a flexible booking policy, as well as comprehensive travel insurance cover, to protect them against these risks.

“The Government must also urgently clarify if Foreign Office travel warnings against amber list countries are due to be lifted, as without that change it will be extremely difficult for holidaymakers to get travel insurance for trips to those destinations.”

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has also warned that amber countries could quickly turn red if there was a Covid outbreak – and particularly if linked to new variants – which would mean holidaymakers would face hotel quarantine costing up to £1,750 per person on their return.

Any adult returning from amber or green countries has to take a PCR test on day two of arrival, as well as pre-departure tests even if fully vaccinated. The Government is warning of potentially lengthy queues at airport check-ins because of all the documentation that will have to be manually approved

It is understood the Government and travel industry are planning a major publicity campaign to alert travellers to the complexities of holidays in the Covid era.

The full list of 83 countries: 

Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue (for Tokelau and Niue), Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, DR Congo, Djibouti, Eswatini, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, French Polynesia, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq (non Covid), Iran (mix of Covid and non Covid), Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya (non Covid), Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mali, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Monaco, Myanmar (Covid and non-Covid), North Korea, Nauru, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Romania, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Syria (non-Covid), Tajikistan, the Occupied Palestinean Territories, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, United States, Vanuatu, Western Sahara, and Yemen (non-Covid).

The 23 countries no longer covered by the FCDO non-essential travel ban: 

Azerbaijan, Bonaire/St Eustatius/Saba, China, Curacao, El Salvador, France, Gabon, Georgia, Greece, Guadapole, Kosovo, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Morocco, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Sudan, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.