Green. A compelling, persuasive colour. Symbolic of so much. Of rebirth and renewal. Of growth. Of advancement and forward motion. Of that basic instruction to go, and go now. Certainly, all these connotations ring true today, now the government has finally announced its “green list” of countries that are officially sanctioned as safe destinations for British tourists in the coming months. The announcement had been much promised – but had been notably light on detail – for several weeks. Now, at last, we have it; a tally of places that we can consider for holidays from May 17 onwards. Let summer commence. Naturally, there is plenty of disappointment to go with the excitement. For now, the list is short; more a takeaway lunch menu than a decadent feast. And of the countries included on it, two are only theoretical possibilities - in practice, New Zealand and Australia have both been clear that their borders will probably remain shut for the remainder of this year. This though, is just a beginning. Obvious omissions and popular places – such as France, Spain and Italy are likely to appear on the “green list” in June or July, as more of mainland Europe becomes vaccinated. The choice will broaden as the weather improves. Of course, there are caveats too. The “green list” is a best-case scenario, based on relevant rates of infection, and as we saw last summer – a country can be stripped of its safe status if circumstances dictate. Unlike last summer, the countries themselves are also making extra requests of their visitors. Each place featured in this article has been given a “hassle-free travel rating” – an assessment of its convenience as a destination based on eight factors. These include whether it is easing restrictions for the vaccinated, whether it is demanding quarantine or pre-arrival testing of non-vaccinated tourists, whether its beaches are open, and whether there will be curfews for bars and restaurants. A more detailed breakdown of the data can be found here. Still, for now, let’s embrace the positives. After a winter of discontent where holidays abroad have been not just implausible but illegal, we have reached a happy hour where, in just over a week, we can be soaking up in the sun in Portugal, or admiring the wild geography of Iceland. The pandemic is not over, and travel within it is still a process fraught with pitfalls and limitations. But where, for months, there has only been a red light, now there is a gleam of green. And green, as we’ve already discussed, means “go”. Portugal The inclusion of Portugal on the “green list” is – if you will pardon the Noughties social-network reference – a case of friends reunited. The great nation of the Iberian Atlantic has long been one of the best-loved travel zones for British tourists – and, indeed, is this country’s oldest ally (dating back to the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 if you want the trivia). But that relationship was fractured a little in 2020, as Portugal fell in and out (but mainly out) of the UK’s official “travel corridors” club – then found itself on the “red list” of high-risk overseas locations that trigger a quarantine requirement on return, due to its cultural and aviation ties to Brazil. Its being given formal destination approval by the UK government will be a source of joy for sun-loving Britons, who have missed their regular week in the Algarve, but also for hotels, restaurants and golf courses in that sandy south-coast region – which have been lacking a crucial element of their clientele for over a year.