Travel firms recorded record Saturday sales as holidaymakers booked trips abroad ahead of coronavirus restrictions being lifted.
Spain-holiday.com reported a record-breaking morning yesterday (Saturday) as confidence grows amongst British sunseekers.
The Foreign Office is set to change its advice against “all but essential travel” to allow holidays to low or medium-risk destinations, meaning trips to France, Greece and Spain look like they could be an option.
Under the new scheme, UK holidaymakers will be able to return home without having to quarantine for 14 days.
Following the news, Eurotunnel’s website crashed due to thousands of people booking trips simultaneously, and a spokesman confirmed they had more bookings in one day than they have had all year.
TUI said it had seen a 50% spike in bookings this week compared to the previous one, with holidays to Spain and Greece proving popular.
Managing director Andrew Flintham said: “We’re pleased the Government has finally confirmed that holidays overseas will be able to go ahead, and the full list of green and amber destinations will be released on Wednesday.
“It’s a hugely positive step forward for the travel industry and I know our customers will be ecstatic that their summer is saved.”
And Lastminute.com said it saw an 80% rise on holiday sales compared to the week before, largely attributed to the announcement of Spain lifting the quarantine for Brits.
In place of the quarantine measures, countries will be graded under a traffic light system, based on the prevalence of coronavirus within each nation’s borders.
The list of countries is due to be published on Wednesday, with restrictions lifted as soon as July 6.
It is expected to include France, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey – but possibly not Portugal.
In a boost for domestic tourism, only passengers arriving in the UK from countries in the red category will be told to self-isolate for two weeks.
All travellers coming back to the UK will also have to provide contact details – in case an outbreak is later traced to their plane or boat.
Ministers have also warned that countries could be moved into the unsafe category if there is a sudden outbreak, meaning holidaymakers could face having to isolate upon return after all.
A Government spokeswoman said: “Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world – giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business.
“But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to reintroduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas.”
Jonathan Smith, a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), said the organisation welcomed the “risk-based approach” taken by the Government, but told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while the industry expected “a surge in bookings” more travel companies were likely to go bust before a full recovery was felt.