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- Listen to our brand new travel podcast
Holiday companies are reporting a huge search in interest as the Government prepares to ease travel restrictions next week.
Tui, Europe’s largest tour operator, said bookings were up 50 per cent this week compared to last, while Irene Hayes, from Hays Travel, the company that bought Thomas Cook after the operator collapsed last year, said the phones “had not stopped ringing”.
Dnata Travel Group, which owns brands including Travelbag and Travel Republic, said it had seen enquiries rising as more details of the likely air bridge agreements emerged.
John Bevan, CEO of dnata, said, however, there remains a lack of detail over new travel rules. “We’re ready to start converting [interest] into bookings and helping Brits holiday again,” he said. “But our ability to do so continues to be hampered by the Foreign Office’s blanket advice against all but essential travel, which it must surely also lift soon, and a lack of clarity over these new guidelines.”
Ministers are due to give more information on the first wave of air bridge deals this week, but it is likely to include France, Spain and Italy and come into force on July 6.
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What are air bridges and why do they matter?
It was not so long ago that the term ‘air bridges’ sounded like nonsense; now, it’s all we can talk about.
Watch the below for a quick refresher in what it could mean for your holiday.
UK holiday firms could sell out for the summer
As bookings pattern shift towards the Continent ahead of the easing of travel restrictions, it is worth noting that operators in the UK last week warned that they could sell out for the summer.
Penny Walker reports:
“People need to book very quickly if they want a holiday in the UK this summer,” Mike Bevens, Managing Director of Canopy & Stars, told Telegraph Travel. “We’re seeing exceptionally high demand at the moment; since Boris Johnson’s announcement on Tuesday, bookings have trebled for July and August holidays and website demand has increased by 176 per cent.”
The same can be said for the holiday cottage market. “Over the past two days, the summer holidays have been incredibly popular. They are now selling at just over seven times the rate they were last year,” James Starkey, Chief Marketing Officer at holidaycottages.co.uk, told Telegraph Travel. “Any additional availability we had whilst people weren’t booking over the past few months is therefore being filled up very quickly.”
‘This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end’
Here is some more reaction from John Bevan, the CEO of dnata Travel Group. He says, despite the easing of restrictions, the Government needs to support the travel industry over the coming months:
“Huge damage has been caused to the UK travel industry by the COVID-19 crisis which will take years to rectify. Although there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel, this is very much the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end.
“We’d urge the Government to be seriously examining what other ways it can support us in the hard months ahead – whether through the suspension of Air Passenger Duty on new bookings for 12 months, or other means of stimulus.”
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