Boost for travel firms as return Covid testing is scrapped

Johnson confirms new travel rules in England from January 7

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Travel firms reported a surge in sales, with many seeing huge rises in enquiries and website traffic overnight.

Seamus McCauley, at Holiday Extras, said: “Bookings were up 15 percent on Wednesday compared to the previous day, and since the Government only made its announcement at 4pm that’s a significant impact on travellers’ confidence to book.”

The firm expected to see another surge yesterday because the “cost and hassle of almost all of the tests to return have gone”.

Holiday giant TUI said there was “no doubt” Britons now have the reassurance needed to travel again. A spokeswoman confirmed it had seen an “immediate and strong” uptick in bookings.

She added: “We know that many of our customers haven’t been overseas for more than two years and can’t wait to take them on their well-deserved holiday.”

Alistair Rowland, chairman of travel trade body ABTA, said the New Year is traditionally a busy time for holiday sales but concerns over the testing requirements had been holding travellers back.

Mr Rowland, who is also chief executive of long-haul tour operator Blue Bay Travel, said: “We’re anticipating a bookings boom for January, following yesterday’s news, and are already seeing an uptick in demand from our customers.”

The most popular getaway spot for Britons currently is the Maldives, followed by the Dominican Republic, Mauritius, Mexico and Thailand.

Travel Republic said bookings for Dubai were up 70 percent overnight while flights to Spain and Turkey were also in demand.

Ailsa Pollard, chief executive of the dnata Travel Group, which owns Travel Republic, said: “Brits are clearly eager to get away – so this announcement couldn’t come at a better time.”

As well as the move to scrap pre-departure tests, people will no longer have to isolate until they get a negative PCR but will instead take a lateral flow by the end of day two of their return. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said yesterday the pre-departure test had “outlived its usefulness” amid the rapid spread of Omicron in the UK and around the world.

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He said: “Omicron is global, it is worldwide, everybody has it now, the proportion that comes in overseas is completely minuscule by comparison with the numbers that are here.”

Travel agency and search engine Skyscanner said 2022 is set to be a bumper bargain year for travel.

It says that flight prices are currently up to 71 percent cheaper than before the pandemic for some destinations for British holidaymakers.

Laura Lindsay, Skyscanner’s trends and destination expert, said: “Providers will be eager to ensure pricing is competitive to rebuild confidence and get people back to the places they love, so 2022 is looking like a great time to find a bargain break.”

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