Holiday companies saw bookings triple ahead of the October semester as Britons seek sunny breaks behind the being phased-out traffic light system.
Popular destinations include Turkey, which was recently taken off the red list, and Spanish destinations including the Canary and Balearic Islands. City trip bookings have also seen a rebound as testing requirements are reduced.
Streamlined travel rules came into effect in the UK on Monday, with the traffic light system replaced by two categories – the red list and everywhere else.
Fully vaccinated travelers also no longer need to take pre-departure tests before arriving in the UK, as changes announced by the government two weeks ago have gone into effect.
Travelers must still take a PCR test by the second day of their return trip at the latest, but from an as yet unannounced date in October, this requirement will be changed in England and Scotland from a PCR to a lateral flow test. cheaper.
The Department of Transportation said the government was aiming for the shift from PCR to side-streams “to be in place when people come back from mid-term breaks,” adding to renewed confidence in booking vacations.
David Child, public relations and brand manager for Thomas Cook, said I: “We almost tripled the bookings when the changes were announced and about half of those were for the October semester.
“Recently it has been more stable, but with a much broader mix of booked vacations – and the getaway return to town is now reduced.
“This week, about a third of our reservations are for October.
“The Canary Islands are the most popular vacation destination right now – and the biggest winner in the recent announcement. “
There are also high hopes the government will reduce the number of countries on the red list from 54 currently to just nine when it is reviewed on Thursday – popular vacation destinations like South Africa and Mexico may be removed.
Thomas Cook has noticed that customers are coming back to make longer-term plans.
“What we’re starting to see now is that people are booking a little longer: the more typical six to eight week booking period. So people are starting to book Christmas and New Years trips.
“If this week’s rumors are correct, we would expect a small increase especially for Mexico and some other remote destinations that offer great winter sun vacations,” Child added.
Jet2Holidays said I as bookings tripled for the October semester after the government announced the changes, Turkey’s Dalaman and Antalya, and the Canaries and Balearic Islands recording the most business.
City trips to Rome, Barcelona and Krakow have also seen an upsurge, the tour operator said.
Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy said, “Customers can travel on vacation with much more certainty and our bookings clearly show how confident they are.
“Following the latest government travel update, we saw a huge increase in all-season bookings, but October and the October semester really stood out with a tripling of bookings.
“October is shaping up to be our busiest month this year. We will operate up to 2,500 weekly flights during the month to over 40 destinations, with even more destinations restarting throughout the month. “
Meanwhile, package holiday specialist Tui has also seen an increase in demand, a spokesperson said: “We are seeing a big increase in bookings for mid-October, with our most popular destinations being Cyprus, Mallorca. and the Canaries. ”
The improvement in bookings is finally bringing good news to the travel sector, decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tim Alderslade, managing director of the Airlines UK trade body, said: “We have seen a good response to the announcement in terms of bookings and given the current trends we hope to see more countries move off the red list and increased mutual recognition of vaccines. status.
” There is still a lot to do. This is not a job done, and ministers should keep in mind that we remain an outlier on arrival testing for vaccinated passengers.
“In the short term, phasing out PCR testing by the mid-October week is essential, and we look forward to clarification on the start date for this as soon as possible. “