Agents say amber easing is ‘double boost’ for bookings

Frontline agents say the removal of quarantine for Brits returning from amber destinations from July 19 is a “double boost” as it gives agents more destinations to sell and means more holidays can remain in place.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Sutton Travel managing director Andy Tomlinson said: “It’s certainly the best news that we’ve probably had for over 12 months. It means we can now take new bookings for those amber destinations over the next few months but it’s also important that we now have an extra 140 destinations opening up to people who have got existing bookings – particularly over the next couple of months.”

David Walker, aka The Travel Snob, said he had 76 live bookings for the summer that he now doesn’t have to cancel.

“The announcement has saved me 76 bookings that I had for July and August. They will now go away, so I’m really chuffed,” he said. “I’ve never stopped booking stuff. I knew that customers might either have to change, or their holidays would get cancelled and refunded, but I knew because of who I was booking with, that it would be ok.”

Walker added that the commission he will now make on those bookings over the next two months was crucial, as all agents are now desperate for cash.

“Over two months I will now make a decent amount of money that’s enough to get me through – and that will also grow as I take more bookings,” he said.

In contrast to Walker, Richard Slater of Henbury Travel stopped taking new bookings in February for travel before July 1 to reduce the need to deal with multiple cancellations and changes.

He said it was the right call for his business.

“I think that warrants a pat on the back for myself there because I hit the nail on the head. We had some pre-booked bookings but we’ve not had too much to deal with,” he said.

Slater said he thought transport secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement about amber destinations would drive demand.

“Certainly, there will be demand. I think it’ll be a little bit slow to start with. But I think as we get going, and people see people going and it’s all alright, then they will all want to go.”

Walker said: “It’s been so refreshing to make a batch of phone calls to say, you’re going to be going on holiday, rather than ‘sorry, it’s all cancelled’.

“I’m dealing with elated customers for a change, giving them the good news that they can go, which is all they’ve wanted. It was just the best day (on Thursday), just to talk to clients to deliver good news rather than bad en-masse. Just to ring them and say, you’re gonna get away, it’s just fabulous.”

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