Is it worth it being an amber gambler?

August 09, 2021
Is it worth it being an amber gambler?

I sit writing this in a restaurant, with freshly brewed coffee overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

I’ve taken the family on a belated holiday and having delayed this from last year due to obvious reasons, I wasn't going to let another year slip by without getting some warmer weather and warmer sea. Furthermore, my children's grandparents live here in Spain and having not seen them for such a long time, I wasn't about to let them miss them for another year.

I live on the Devon / Cornwall border, and despite the optimists extolling the virtues of the Southwest (which I agree with), it’s not the same as the Mediterranean for many reasons.

And now I’m here, almost daily news reports are being spilled by various media outlets extrapolating that Spain, Italy, and the US might well be moved to the recently invented and very confusing ‘Amber Plus list.’

I won’t get too political about the obvious disregard our government has towards our travel industry. Because whatever way you look at it, our entire industry is at the mercy of regularly changing rules and restrictions, businesses and consumers alike. 

But on balance, I’d like to share with you an opinion on whether it’s worth risking visiting and amber country at the moment, through a brief ‘Pros and Cons list’


The airport 

The airport experience was excellent. I’ve never been in a quieter Bristol airport (flight at 11:40 am). Security was straightforward, check-in procedures were efficient and whilst I had prepared for hours of extra checks and queuing, I even had time to do some duty-free shopping. Also, it's worth noting my children loved seeing the planes and flying, and have said this was one of their holiday highlights so far.

The weather

For many of us, our holidays wouldn’t be a complete success unless we frequently reviewed the weather ‘back home’, just to make sure it isn't as good as where we are visiting. In this department, I have been blessed. As Storm Evert batters the Southwest and headlines such as “Hailstones in July? Arctic air to grip the UK this weekend as temperatures drop” make me very glad I’m not in Devon at the moment.

The difference 

The sea, the smells, the tastes, the differences that make international travel so appealing are all here. I feel fortunate that I’ve endured the lockdowns living in a beautiful rural part of our country, but it's nice to have a change, for myself and my extended family,

The Cons

No babysitting

This was a bit of a blow as myself and my wife were looking forwards to going out for dinner or spending some time by the pool on our own. Alas, due to covid restrictions, in our hotel at least, the babysitting service isn’t running.

Masks on holiday?

Whilst we’ve gotten used to them, it feels even more of an imposition to be asked to wear a mask at a time when you’re supposed to be able to just relax and enjoy yourself.

The uncertainty

For sure, there is real uncertainty that we might have to quarantine on our return, and with the shifting sands of government travel protocols, and different ‘scientists’ ‘government advisors’ and ‘sources close to senior political figures’ providing completely contradictory 'information' depending on which publication you read, its impossible to predict what's going to happen in the short term.

So is it worth it or not?

In short - yes it’s worth visiting and experiencing something different with the family and creating memories that feel different than the last 18 months.

And if like me you are keen to restart your travel adventures abroad, here are some things you can do to mitigate the risk:

  • Be flexible and adaptable. We’ve seen scenes of the mad rushes of people travelling to airports to leave a holiday destination once more restrictions are imposed - so if you are willing and able to act nimbly - like so many of us have gotten used to doing, then why not?

  • Plan dates around government travel announcements. There is often a warning when restriction announcements are changing. Once the next tranche of restrictions come out, you could book at least a one-week trip immediately, safe in the hope that green or amber countries are unlikely to immediately turn red.
  • I’m absolutely opposed to paying £4000+ for my family to stay in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel, especially hearing of authoritarian security protocols. So, if my amber destination turns red - I'm going to remain in Spain for a month and hire a house nearby. I appreciate this may not be an option for many people, but I can work remotely, as can my wife, and so working from here, rather than back in the UK isn’t too bad during the summer holidays. Furthermore, there isn't much difference in cost to hire a villa for 3-4 weeks versus the UK quarantine hotel cost and with any luck by the end of the summer holidays, your destination would have been removed from the amber plus or red list.

There are indeed a lot of moving parts to consider when making your decision, and I wish you the very best of summers, whatever you decide to do.

Anthony Rawlins is the Founder and CEO of Digital Visitor with over 15 years experience in crafting successful marketing strategies for the travel and tourism businesses. He has worked with leading organisations in every part of the industry including airlines, cruiselines, global hotel chains, destinations and attractions. Regarded as a visionary by many industry leaders, through his scientific background, data interpretation expertise and proclivity for creativity, he has a proven track record in accurately predicting future trends. Combined with expansive industry knowledge and pragmatic and commercial mindset he’s has been able to effectively translate these trends into actional strategies and tactics for Digital Visitor’s clients.