France relaxes ban on UK holidaymakers in major tourism boost

France has confirmed it is relaxing its ban on UK arrivals with almost immediate effect.

People were stopped visiting the country unless there was a “compelling” reason for travel a week before Christmas as uncertainty remained over the Omicron virus.

However it has now been announced this will no longer be the case.

Travellers will still need to produce proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken 24 hours before a trip but other restrictions have been eased to provide some cheer for holidaymakers.

Changes will come into force from Friday morning, the country’s tourism minister, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, has announced. Requirements to isolate on arrival will be scrapped.

The news was welcomed by travel experts head of a potential February half-term ski holidays boom.

Abby Penlington, director at industry body Discover Ferries, said: “The ferry industry welcomes the news that France is lifting the ban on non-essential travel for UK holiday-makers.

“France is one of the most popular holiday destinations and traditionally January is a critical month for travel operators as people start to book summer holidays.

“While the ferry industry has continued to operate essential services across the Channel while the border remained closed, we’re confident that its reopening will provide a much-needed uplift in bookings.”

Paul Charles, founder of The PC Agency, posted on social media: “Good news from #France – at last. No quarantine needed for #UK visitors from tomorrow, just a negative lateral flow test (not NHS one) taken within the 24hour period before arriving in France.”

The French government introduced a ban on non-essential travel to and from the UK on December 18 in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The rules were partly eased last week to allow some business travel to take place but leisure travel was still outlawed.

Lifting the tourism ban will mean thousands of people in the UK who have booked winter sports holidays to the French slopes will be able to travel without isolating on arrival.

It had been labelled as a “hammer blow to tourism” with the French government accused of a “knee jerk” reaction to rising Omicron cases in the UK.

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