UK holidaymakers eye overseas travel
London – Holidaymakers from England, Scotland and Wales are expected to jet off for some early summer sun from Monday as the ban on foreign holidays is lifted.
Travellers will now be able to visit 12 countries on the government’s green list, including Portugal and Israel, without isolating on their return.
But the vast majority of tourist destinations remain on the amber and red lists, meaning travellers must quarantine when they get back.
And that has hit demand for holidays.
Online travel agent Thomas Cook said the number of people booking to travel abroad was “still small”.
It said 75 per cent of its bookings were for Portugal, although Thomas Cook customers planning to jet off this week numbered only in their hundreds.
On Friday, Portugal announced that travellers from the UK would be allowed to enter its borders provided they could show a negative PCR test result from the previous 72 hours.
That led to an increase in demand for flights to the country. Tui, which has 19 flights scheduled from the UK to Portugal next week, said eight of those would now be on a Boeing Dreamliner, which can carry up to 345 people.
Due to a surge in demand for landing slots at Portugal’s airports, Tui was unable to put on more flights so it decided to use the larger planes, which are normally used for long-haul flights and can carry almost twice as many people as the Boeing 737s that it had planned to use.
Many of those who do intend to get away plan to do so in style. Thomas Cook reported that 85 per cent of customers had booked four or five-star hotels. Before the crisis, only around half of people chose to splash out on that kind of luxury.
Hays Travel has noticed a similar trend. At present around half of its customers are booking for next year but it highlighted a “cautious optimism” among travellers following an almost four-fold increase in bookings for Portugal this summer.
Chief operating officer Jonathon Woodall said the average spend on a two-week holiday for a family of four had increased by £370 to £4 000 as people look to “fulfil their bucket list”. For those looking to holiday closer to home, the average spend on a 14-night family break in Europe is £1 800.
“People are upgrading to better destinations and accommodation, spending more to treat themselves,” he said. “Cruises both around Britain this summer and worldwide are very popular.” (BBC)