By Ron Howells • 20 September 2021 • 8:21
Travel operators expect demand to explode over simpler overseas travel rules
Travel operators expect demand to explode over simpler overseas travel rules.
Operators have hailed the UK government’s simpler travel rules but have urged the transport secretary Grant Shapps to take more action to shorten the red list of countries.
The Department of Transport confirmed on Friday afternoon (September 17) that it will axe the amber category in its traffic light system, change the rules on testing, and take eight countries off the red list, including the popular hotspots of Turkey, Egypt and the Maldives.
“We’ve already seen an uptick in bookings for Turkey in October and a big increase in bookings for those looking to enjoy some winter sun. We expect to see customer confidence improve.
“We still believe the red list could be reduced further given no variants of concern have been identified and it remains significantly more restrictive than other countries in Europe.
“We hope the UK government recognise that fully vaccinated customers still have more travel restrictions in place than many other countries around the world, so as an industry we will not see the return of operations as we would like, but today we are pleased that progress is being made,” said Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK.
Jet2holidays said it would restart flights and holidays to Antalya and Dalaman in Turkey from September 23.
Chief executive Steve Heapy reported increasing demand in recent days as the changes were trailed, with “a massive surge in bookings for package holidays”.
“Although it has been a long time coming, we are extremely pleased that the government has finally committed to reopening international travel properly.
“Holidaymakers and independent travel agents will be frustrated that these changes come too late for the peak summer holiday period, but we know how delighted they will be that holidays are no longer subject to a set of restrictions that are completely out of step with other areas of everyday life.
“Having to take a pre-departure test in resort, along with an expensive PCR test after returning to the UK, has unfairly penalised hardworking customers and families for far too long. Although the removal of these burdens is welcome news and a step in the right direction, more can still be done.
“The Traffic Light system has been confusing and completely unfit for purpose since day one. We welcome a new approach which is easy for everyone to understand and provides certainty.
“The desire to get away for a well-earned holiday in the sunshine has never diminished, however harsh and unfair restrictions have remained a barrier for some. Holidays mean so much to everyone, and we cannot wait to take our customers away on them,” said Heapy.
“It is one of the biggest breakthroughs our industry has had in 18 months. Turkey has long been one of our most popular beach destinations and we’re really pleased to see it added to the amber list.
“But more work needs to be done to remove the unnecessary and costly test after arriving back in the UK, because it’s important that travel remains accessible to everyone.
“This announcement means more people can book now with confidence for some late summer sun,” said Garry Wilson, easyJet holidays chief executive.
Estelle Giraudeau, UK & Northern Europe managing director at Club Med, commented:
“Research carried out by Club Med revealed that 63% of UK adults have delayed booking a holiday as they are put off by the cost of testing.
“We now hope this will provide some level of assurance and will allow people to once again start thinking about and booking the holidays they have been dreaming of for the past 18 months.
“We are pleased that the Maldives, the Dominican Republic and Turkey are all finally being reinstated as holiday options for Brits. Google search data asking for the ‘latest travel advice for Turkey’ has increased by 650% in the past seven days.
“As we begin to approach autumn and winter, it is clear there is an appetite for both short and long-haul travel.”
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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