Travel agents see holiday bookings boom as traffic light system ends

HOLIDAYMAKERS are celebrating as travel restrictions to the US come to an end and the much-maligned traffic light system is also being replaced by the government. 

Travel agents in the Swindon and Wiltshire area have also reacted positively to the announcement by transport secretary Grant Shapps.

They say their companies are already seeing a boost as people from the area have the freedom to book overseas holidays again.

Natalie Turner is the head of branches for Your Co-op Travel, which has an outlet in Swindon and two in Wiltshire.

She said: “The government shake-up of the traffic light system and testing requirements for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers is really positive news, especially for those who are hoping to get away for October half-term.  

“The announcement on Friday that the traffic light system is to be simplified from October 4, with just two categories – ‘red’ and ‘rest of the world’ – will provide a higher degree of clarity for travellers and a welcome boost for the tourism industry. 

“Additionally, the news that from the end of October, fully-vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to take a test before returning to the UK, and that the expensive Day-2 PCR test will be replaced with a cheaper, lateral flow option, removes two significant barriers for holidaymakers. 

“We’re expecting to see a rush of bookings as confidence returns.

“Further destinations are being moved off the government’s ‘red’ list too, including the Maldives, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Oman, which will provide holidaymakers with a wider choice of destination, particularly for a winter-sun escape. 

“We saw a 38 per cent jump in holiday bookings on Saturday, compared with the previous Saturday, with Turkey leading the way for October half-term getaways, followed by the Canary Islands and Spain.

“We also took several bookings to the Maldives, following the news that the paradise-destination will come off the ‘red’ list from September 22. 

Sarah Watts from Not Just Travel in Devizes told BBC Radio Wiltshire: “This is amazing, combined with the news that we had last week, the US opening up is the early Christmas that all people in the travel sector had been hoping for and Santa has delivered early.”