Travel bosses have hailed the loosening of COVID rules for US and EU travellers as a move that would “get global Britain back in business”.
Shares in British Airways owner International Airlines Group rose more than 3% while there were also rises for easyJet, Ryanair, Tui and engine maker Rolls-Royce.
Cruise operators Carnival and Saga received a boost too as the government also said international cruises would be able to go ahead.
The announcement on quarantine by the Department for Transport means that from 4am next Monday travellers fully-vaccinated with US and EU approved jabs will be able to travel to England from “amber” list countries without having to quarantine.
They will still have to take a pre-departure COVID test and another one within two days of arrival.
The loosening of rules does not apply to France, with arrivals from there still having to isolate.
Travellers fully vaccinated in the UK have already been able to return from amber countries without quarantining since July.
The significance of the latest announcement is that it extends that right to those who have received jabs approved by European and US regulators – effectively reopening Britain to visitors from those parts of the world.
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, representing Britain’s tourist industry, said: “Today’s announcement that quarantine will be removed for vaccinated US and EU visitors to England is a fantastic step forward that will allow the £28bn inbound tourism sector, which supports over 500,000 jobs across the UK, to finally restart.”
The decision was also cheered by the UK’s big aviation players, who have cut thousands of jobs after the pandemic grounded global flights – and have been urging ministers to unlock restrictions much more quickly.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said: “This step will allow us to reunite loved ones and get global Britain back in business, giving the economy the vital boost it so badly needs.”
But Mr Doyle also called for more countries to be added to the UK’s “green” destination list and a review of the costly testing requirements he said were out of step with neighbouring countries.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said the airline was “ready to work with government to ensure new rules are smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the transatlantic corridor”.
However he highlighted the continued ban on UK visitors to the US, calling for it to be repealed.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The government has made the right decision to safely further reopen international travel.
“We will now work with colleagues in the industry to boost UK trade, reunite family and friends, and generate billions in new tourist income.”
It comes after Heathrow, BA and Virgin revealed the results of a pilot scheme which they said demonstrated that the vaccination status of travellers from amber countries could be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.
The announcement was also welcomed by the wider business community.
Tom Thackray, director of infrastructure for the CBI, said: “Restriction-free international travel will be a vital piece of the recovery jigsaw, and ending quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated arrivals from the US and EU is a huge step towards that goal.”
British Chambers of Commerce Co-Executive Director, Claire Walker, said: ”For the hundreds of thousands of people directly employed in the travel industry and the many more that are part of supply chains, this will be welcome news.
“The long-term recovery of our entire economy also depends on reopening the UK to the two-way flows of people and trade.”
Adam Tyndall, programme director for connectivity at London First, representing businesses in the capital, said welcoming visitors from the US and EU would “support our world-class hospitality, retail, leisure and cultural institutions who have sorely missed the revenue from tourists”.