Travel firms see rise in bookings after holiday announcement - but others criticise ‘disappointing’ list

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 2:42 pm
Travel firms have seen a surge in holiday bookings following the Government’s ‘green list’ announcement (Photo: Shutterstock)

Travel firms have seen a surge in holiday bookings following the Government’s ‘green list’ announcement.

The Department for Transport announced that travellers will be able to visit numerous destinations from 17 May, without the requirement to self-isolate on return to England.

‘We’ve had the best day of sales’

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Some travel firms in the UK have now seen a spike in customers booking holidays, after the Government’s announcement.

The green list means that arrivals will have to take a pre-departure test and another PCR test on or before day two of their return to England, but no quarantine or additional tests will be needed unless a positive result comes back.

Twelve countries have been added to the green list - including Portugal Iceland and Gibraltar - but it’s worth noting that some countries on the list will continue to have restrictions in place for those coming from the UK – including quarantine measures.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said passengers are encouraged to check all requirements and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development travel advice before they book any foreign holiday.

However, travel company Tui said it has seen a rise in customer demand following the announcement, particularly for trips to Portugal.

A spokeswoman said: “We’ve had the best day of sales for summer 2021 holidays since the initial road map announcement in February.

“Sixty per cent of all holidays sold yesterday were to Portugal.”

Holidays to Portugal have also been a “number one seller” for travel firm Thomas Cook since the announcement was made.

A spokesman said: “Yesterday more people bought holidays to Portugal than had bought the whole of the rest of the year but demand remains below ‘normal’ levels and so hotels will have plenty of availability giving people plenty of choice.

“Customers are choosing to stay for longer than a week, and half of yesterday’s Portugal bookings were in five-star hotels, showing that people are splashing out.”

‘I think the very disappointing news is just the number of countries that are on the list’

Although some firms have seen a rise in bookings after the Government’s announcement, some smaller travel firms, as well as top travel firm bosses, have spoken out about the limited number of destinations currently on the green list.

Mark Pollard, managing director of Tony Sheldon Travel in Maidenhead, told the PA news agency: “One of the problems with this list is it’s very limiting, the only major tourist destination is Portugal, this is all too little and too early to say.

“It’s a damp squib announcement, there isn’t enough there to prompt the kind of interest the industry is desperate for.

“I think it’s more of a tick box announcement to just give us some destinations and keep us all happy.”

Mr Pollard added: “I really don’t think this will make a huge difference until more of the top European holiday destinations are added on to the list – but again, it’s too early to tell at the moment.”

EasyJet Holidays CEO, Garry Wilson, said that although it was positive news that travel is beginning to reopen again, the number of countries on the green list is “disappointing”.

Mr Wilson told BBC Breakfast: “The good news is travel is reopening and our customers can look forward to those well-earned breaks in the summer that they’ve been waiting many months for.

“I think the very disappointing news is just the number of countries that are on the list, and if you look at European countries there’s very few, and of those European countries the major holiday destination is Portugal.

“So we did think it was very cautious and it is really not aligning with the approach the Government has taken to open up domestic travel and we don’t think it is backed up by the science or the data.”

He added: “We believe, looking at the science and looking at the data, that places like the Greek islands, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, very popular holiday destinations, actually do meet those criteria and should be on that list.”