Brits rush to book holidays abroad after rules on France were relaxed and green list improved as travel firms report up to 250% surge in bookings
- Hays Travel and Jet2 saw their bookings increase by 193% and 250% respectively
- From 4am Sunday, double jabbed arrivals from France do not need to quarantine
- Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Slovakia among new additions to green list
Bookings for foreign holidays have soared by up to 250 per cent after the Government revealed rules on travelling to France would be relaxed while the green list is to be expanded.
From 4am Sunday, arrivals from France who are fully vaccinated with a jab authorised and administered in the UK, US or Europe will not need to quarantine.
Meanwhile, Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia will move to the green list, and Bahrain, India, Qatar and United Arab Emirates will move to the amber list.
The updates have caused a surge in holiday searches, with Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent agent, reporting a 193 per cent surge in bookings between Thursday and Friday.
From 4am Sunday, arrivals from France who are fully vaccinated with a jab authorised and administered in the UK, US or Europe will not need to quarantine (Pictured: Cannes, south of France)
British Airways reported a 260 per cent week-on-week increase in searches for holidays to the south of France (Pictured: Cote d’Azur, south of France)
Chairwoman Dame Irene Hays said: ‘What we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks is a lot of inquiries and so we had many people who were ready to book them.’
The company advised holidaymakers to use a ‘reputable travel agent’ given how quickly rules can change with short notice.
Dame Hays told Sky News: ‘As long as people are careful where they book, the travel agent will look after the two things which are most important — one is their health and safety, and second is their financial security.
‘Just to say that at the moment, we will see some of the best prices we’ve seen in years.’
The current rules on travel are expected to remain in place until at least August 26 but transport secretary Grant Shapps said he cannot guarantee a ‘zero chance’ of countries being moved to the amber or red list in the future.
One of the biggest winners from the travel list updates was Jet2, which saw a 250 per cent spike in bookings to amber and green list destinations yesterday compared to the day before.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said: ‘The latest traffic light review from the UK government comes just in time for the peak summer season.
‘It is no surprise to see a sudden spike in bookings to destinations on the green and amber lists, as we know that there is enormous demand out there from holidaymakers who cannot wait to get away.’
According to Skyscanner, searches for holidays to Dubai were up 213 per cent, making it the second-most popular search on the comparison website after Spain – which saw a 42% rise in bookings compared with a week ago.
The company said its top destinations are currently Malaga, Palma, Alicante, Tenerife, all in Spain, and then Dubai.
Meanwhile British Airways reported a 260 per cent week-on-week increase in searches for holidays to the south of France.
And Brittany Ferries said it took 1,400 bookings to France on Thursday, up from 568 a day earlier, while Eurostar said bookings from London to Paris doubled over the same period.
It follows a spat between the UK and its neighbour to the south after the British Government made it the only amber list destination from which fully jabbed travellers had to quarantine upon return.
While travel companies have praised the latest updates, some industry sources said it was ‘too little too late.’
One of the biggest winners from the travel list updates was Jet2, which saw a 250 per cent spike in bookings to amber and green list destinations yesterday compared to the day before
According to Skyscanner, searches for holidays to Dubai were up 213 per cent, making it the second-most popular search on the comparison website after Spain (Pictured: Dubai skyline)
Bahrain, India, Qatar and United Arab Emirates will move to the amber list on Sunday at 4am (Pictured: Plane flies over Dubai)
One senior travel boss told the Times: ‘The government claims these announcements are opening up travel, but with fully vaccinated people allowed to return from amber countries without quarantine, it means the green list is now basically nonsense.
‘When you consider that, the only meaningful change this week is the France news. And we know quarantine should never have been imposed in the first place. So this only rights that wrong.’
And while those returning from Spain only have to produce a lateral flow test at the border, ministers are still advising that they take a PCR test – a potential cost of hundreds of pounds for families.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘Alongside the continuation of expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped for expansion of the green list — which makes less sense by the day, given where we are with the vaccination programme — this is yet another blow to the sector and families desperate to get away, and means the UK continues to open up far slower than the rest of Europe.’
British Airways said its teams had been ‘working through the night to arrange as many additional seats out of Mexico as possible to help get Britons home’. But there is unlikely to be enough seats for all those desperate to return. Pictured: Passengers arrive at Heathrow on Friday
Those who have received both doses have unrestricted entry – meaning they do not have to quarantine or provide a negative test result – when travelling to Germany, France, Spain, Latvia, Romania and Georgia. But those who are not double-jabbed are still subject to some regulations upon arrival and, in the cases of Germany and Slovakia, can be denied entry
It comes as Brits are scrambling to get back to the UK from Mexico after the country is set to be added to the red list Sunday – requiring travellers to check into a quarantine hotel for 10 days upon arrival, costing £1,750 per adult.
Holidaymakers spoke of their anger at having to spend thousands of pounds to flee the country.
Many had cut short dream trips to the popular tourist destination of Cancun and spoke of the ‘panic’ to try and book one of the few remaining airline seats to the UK before tomorrow’s 4am deadline.
British Airways said its teams had been ‘working through the night to arrange as many additional seats out of Mexico as possible to help get Britons home’. But there is unlikely to be enough seats for all those desperate to return.
The cost of a flight back to Britain was being sold for between £2,000 and £4,000 yesterday as many tried to beat the deadline. There are between 5,000 and 6,000 British holidaymakers in Mexico currently.
In a further blow, the cost of hotel quarantine will increase from August 12, with the price for single adult travellers rising from £1,750 to £2,285 and a second adult paying £1,430 – more than double the current rate of £650.
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