I am not one to cast aspersions on the behaviour of any other human being easily. I like light and fluffy. Yet now, I find myself doing just that.

what was Boris, Shapps & Co thinking when they pulled Portugal from the green list in such a shockingly brutal way?

So I am just going to say it. What was Boris, Shapps & Co thinking when they pulled Portugal from the green list in such a shockingly brutal way?

I still have Grant Shapps’ vow ringing in my ears “To give passengers more certainty when travelling, a ‘green watchlist’ will be introduced to help identify countries most at risk of moving from ‘green’ to ‘amber’.”

We have been here before. Portugal was given the green light last September then suddenly its status changed to a no-go area triggering a scramble for seats on expensive last minute flights from Faro, Lisbon and Porto to meet a short deadline. 

Now holidaymakers are forced to scramble again, in the same way. Those preferring to continue with their holiday have to fork out the cost of extra PCR tests that no one will have budgeted for while they quarantine.

So what happened? Holidaymakers were given just 108 hours notice to sort out a last-minute flight home for those who wanted to beat the quarantine deadline. Just where was the green watch list?

This smacks of a measure actioned on a policy of fear brought about by a lack of planning. The response from the Portuguese foreign affairs ministry was to call the move “illogical”, while professor Henrique Barros, president of Portugal’s National Health Council, called the removal an “overreaction”, adding that the overall situation in the country is “relatively stable”.

It has plunged the entire industry into despair never before experienced as travel companies try to stave off the dark cloud of job losses, and bankruptcies.

The “illogical” measure was bound to ignite a grenade of anger among holidaymakers currently in the country who probably hadn’t even had a chance to settle into their deck chair and those with packed bags and about to head off to the sunny climes of the Algarve.

It has plunged the entire industry into despair never before experienced as travel companies try to stave off the dark cloud of job losses, and bankruptcies.

“really rotten time for the travel industry”? Surely this is the biggest understatement of all time.

A member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) Government advisory panel, Dr Mike Tildesley observed that it is a “really rotten time for the travel industry”. Surely this is the biggest understatement of all time.

Add to that the confusion about what amber actually means and the fact that customers who wish to cancel will not be eligible for a refund. This is because visiting an amber country is not illegal and so the holiday and flight could still go ahead.

Safety first they say; sure, but how does the data stack up? Of course, there is sympathy for the findings of growing incidences of new variants yet, surely the government had hindsight and could have devised a better system to avoid the shambles and avoid the nationwide feeling of utter distrust.

Let’s face it, travel businesses will not be able to trade in any meaningful way this summer. It’s unlikely that ski companies will be able to prepare.

What will the government do to stop the disappearance of what has traditionally been the most vital, most successful tourism industry in the world?

Colleagues who own small travel agencies have seen their business decimated. Any hopes of climbing back to profitability have been dashed completely. Who on earth is going to book any sort of travel any time soon while the government-sponsored fear, doom and gloom are all-pervading.

So how about we just give up on the chaos-creating amber list? How about doing away with anything that is not crystal clear? How about the government does away with useless wishy-washy watch lists. To the government I say, keep it simple – either we can travel or we can’t. That way when in the future you say we can, we can believe you.