On the Beach rules out adding destinations to free tests offer

On the Beach has ruled out extending its free Covid testing offer to more countries, but hopes to expand it to Welsh customers if the country’s restrictions allow.

The online travel agent unveiled the scheme when it went back on sale earlier this week, with free tests offered to customers who book holidays to Spain, Greece and Cyprus by September 30.

Currently, it is only available to customers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland because Wales insists that travellers returning from international travel take an NHS Covid PCR test on their return.

More:On the Beach defends taking summer 2021 off sale

On the Beach’s partnership is with private UKAS-approved testing company, Collinson, and this will continue for paid-for tests after September.

Asked on a Travel Weekly webcast if the offer would be extended in order to continue its goal of building consumer confidence in overseas travel, chief customer officer Zoe Harris said: “For now we’ll see how September goes.

“We think, with the travel volumes we are talking about, we can get enough customers back on holiday and building confidence through word of mouth of the customers that have successfully done the testing.

“So for now it’s a September-only promotion. We will keep it to those destinations that are most popular with our customers but also that have the most straightforward entry requirements.”

She explained that the offer would only apply to destinations which do not require a test before arrival.

Harris added: “We anticipate Wales will change [its stance on PCR tests being NHS-only].”

Asked about demand for future travel, Harris said On the Beach has “definitely seeing green shoots over the last couple of weeks, but still below a normal year”.

Noting that year on year comparisons are “less meaningful” because of rebookings skewing figures, Harris added: “The increases we’ve seen others talk about we didn’t think were perhaps quite accurate; a 100% uplift off a small base is not really a massive shift.”

But she said On the Beach was “seeing quite significant increases now”, with Greece and the Canary Islands popular. “Customers are coming to our website in greater volumes. There’s more consumer intent now to book a holiday.”

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