Bulletin – Magical Oman plus Travel List Reform

What a difference a week makes!  This time last week the UK had a complicated traffic travel light system with differing levels of quarantine and tests depending on your vaccination status and destination.  Now we know that from Monday 4 October that system will be simplified.  A reduced Red List remains, with hotel quarantine for all on return to England.  But the Amber and Green lists have been scrapped and requirements to test or isolate on return are simpler and depend on your vaccination status.  Essentially, on returning from non-Red List countries, the requirement for a pre-departure lateral flow test has been removed.   The Government has also said that from the end of October (no exact date given) the expensive Day 2 PCR test will be replaced by a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test. See box below for summary and link to full guidance.   

These changes have generated great excitement in the travel industry.  Already we can see an increased appetite for travel as clients realise that a holiday overseas is a real possibility again and will be far less stressful.  Some great destinations will also be removed from the Red List from tomorrow and provide excellent opportunities for winter sun.  These include one of my favourite destinations, Oman, and below you will find some inspiration for a trip to this truly magical country.  

A note of caution – just because a country has been removed from the Red List doesn’t necessarily mean you can go on holiday there.  Many countries are still very cautious about letting in holiday makers and impose quarantine and burdensome testing requirements for entry.  The FCDO travel pages (see link below) will give you an overview of the entry requirements for a country but the continuous changes mean that these pages aren’t always kept up to date.  A good travel agent or tour operator will be able to give you an accurate picture.  

Hot off the Press! As I write this I am reading that the White House has announced that from early November this year UK travellers will finally be allowed back into the US!  Ski-ing in Breckenridge this winter anyone? 

Requirements for fully vaccinated travellers returning from non-Red List countries

Requirements for those returning from non-Red List countries who are not fully vaccinated

  • Book a Day 2 PCR test for your return to the UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you return to the UK
  • Take your Day 2 PCR test on or before Day 2 after your return (the date of your return is day 0)
  • Book a Day 2 & Day 8 PCR test for your return to the UK
  • Complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before you return to the UK
  • Isolate at home on your return for ten days
  • Take your Day 2 PCR test on or before Day 2 after your return (the date of your return is day 0)
  • Take a Day 8 PCR test on or before Day 8

NB: Test to Release on day 5 is still available

Magical Oman

Only a 7 hour flight but a whole world away in terms of landscape and culture, Oman will give you a sense of the real Arabia.  Its removal from the the UK’s travel Red List is perfectly timed because the best time of year to visit is between October and April when temperatures are between 17°C and 35°C. So, for fully vaccinated travellers at least, Oman is a perfect holiday destination for the autumn and winter months.  It is a spectacularly beautiful country with a turquoise sea full of interesting marine life, soaring majestic mountains and endless desert sculpted by warm winds.  It can be visited in a variety of ways from group tours to private tailor-made trips and long weekends to self-drive holidays.  Click here to read more about Oman

Classic first trip to Oman

Spend a couple of days in Muscat after your overnight flight and take a day trip snorkelling to the Daymaniat islands.  Follow this with a foray into the Jebel Akhdar mountains for some spectacular views, lovely hiking, ancient villages and amazing forts.  A night or two in Wahiba Sands is a must, staying in a tented encampment and walking knee deep in the sand dunes.  You might go dune bashing in a 4 x 4 or take a camel ride. Then head back to Muscat to stay at one of the luxury hotels on the outskirts of the city for some time on the beach and in the water. From here you can visit the striking Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, one of the largest in the world, and wander the souk buying gifts and mementos to take home.

Oman in style

Oman has some truly stunning and utterly luxurious hotels dotted around the country. Travelling from one to the other will give you a chance to see all that this destination has to offer without compromising on luxury.  Hotels include the strikingly located Alila Jebel Akhdar on the edge of a plateau in the mountains, the Six Senses Zighy Bay in the fjord like Musandam Peninsula, the Chedi, Al Bustan and Al Husn hotels in Muscat and the Al Baleed resort in Salalah on the edge of the Empty Quarter. With private transfers in between and day trips tailored to your wishes this is a truly fabulous way to holiday in Oman.  

Self drive Oman

The roads in Oman are generally good.  In fact it feels like there’s been a huge investment in infrastructure in the country over the past decade.  So driving yourself on a classic Oman itinerary is a real possibility.  You’ll need a 4 x 4  vehicle to reach some of the hotels and sights but these are readily available in Oman.  You can even drive yourself out to one of the desert camps in Wahiba Sands, negotiating sandy tracks, spotting camels from time to time. You’ll need to let your car tyres down a little before you enter the desert but if you’re not keen on desert driving you can leave your car in the nearest village and take a transfer instead.  Self driving gives you a freedom to stop for photos and lunch wherever you like and perhaps see parts of the country you might not otherwise see.  

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