Holiday bookings surge traffic light rules update sees Brits make break for it
Holiday bookings are surging as people rush to book a sunshine getaway after the traffic light rules for international travel were updated.
From 4am on Sunday, double-jabbed passengers arriving from France will no longer have to self-isolate.
And Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway switch from the amber to the green list.
Steve Witt, co-founder of Not Just Travel, said last night: “Everyone has been flat-out busy today due to the excitement of customers. The phones have been ringing and ringing.”
Skyscanner revealed a 45% rise in visits to its website.
And David Child, of Thomas Cook, said: “I would expect a bumper weekend ahead. Especially if the weather here is bad, I imagine we’ll see people booking late breaks.”
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Eurostar reported a strong increase in London to Paris bookings, with traffic to its website more than doubling.
A spokesman said: “We are looking forward to welcoming more passengers on board as early as this weekend, and we are ready to further increase capacity over the coming weeks to carry many more passengers between the UK and the Continent during the August holiday season.”
Travellers booking trips to France said prices had shot up overnight, with £50 added to the cost of a £89 one-way ticket to Paris from St Pancras.
A Eurotunnel spokesman said: “Our pricing works like most travel operators, as a dynamic model, led by demand.
“With the announcement last night, we saw an immediate uplift in bookings.”
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Airline Emirates said it received a “huge surge in queries” due to the decision to take the United Arab Emirates off the red list, along with India, Bahrain and Qatar, meaning there is no need to hotel quarantine. But Mexico moved on to the red list, meaning anyone returning faces 10 days in hotel isolation.
Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the Government of creating a “summer of chaos” for people planning holidays. He said: “One day they’ve got to do something, next day they’ve got to do something else. They don’t know when they book their holiday and when they are trying to get back what they must comply with.”
Travel giant Tui predicted an “uptick” in bookings, rather than a surge. A spokeswoman said: “What we are seeing is people feeling they can book holidays for later in the year, not the last-minute August break.”
Despite rising infections in Spain, it stays on the amber list, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to avoid quarantine on return.
Double jabbed ‘for evermore’
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted tougher rules for Spain could return, warning he could “never say there is a zero chance” that quarantine would not be imposed.
Yet he still insisted people could go abroad this summer “without looking over their shoulders the whole time”.
Mr Shapps also predicted anyone going abroad would need to be double-jabbed against Covid “for evermore”.
He said: “Probably all countries will require full vaccination for you to enter.”
PM Boris Johnson dodged a question about whether he would book a Spanish break. Speaking at a Scottish offshore wind farm, he said: “I think people should, obviously, look at the guidance. We want people to get away if they possibly can, we are just saying this year it’s going to be a bit trickier.”
Virginia Messina, of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said the traffic light system for overseas travel was too confusing. She told Times Radio: “It’s impossible to keep track.”
Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said Wales would follow the rest of the UK’s foreign travel rules.
Latest figures show 189,232 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to July 28 – down 39% on the previous week.
It is the first week-on-week fall since May 5. Another 30,215 UK cases and 86 deaths were recorded last night.
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