Rise in summer holiday demand ahead of relaxation of amber list travel curbs

Fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries are expected to be freed from the need to quarantine but will still need to take costly PCR tests.

The relaxation of restrictions could come as early as July 19 under plans due to be outlined by transport secretary Grant Shapps today.

Children are likely to be exempt from quarantine even though they have not been vaccinated yet will also need tests on day two of their return.

Shapps is reported by the Telegraph to have told the industry: “Day-two testing will remain for arrivals from amber countries, regardless of vaccinated status, as this provides genomic sequencing capability to identify the risk of importing variants.”

PCR tests for those coming back from quarantine-free green-list destinations will also continue to be required until at least July 31 when the traffic light system is set for a second review.

The revised measures would open up travel more than 140 countries on the amber list without quarantine such as mainstream holiday destinations such as mainland Spain and the Canary Islands, Greece, France, Portugal and Italy as schools break up for the summer.

Demand is already surging for holidays to places on the amber list with operators poised to raise capacity to meet the demand.

TravelSupermarket reported that more than half (55%) of holiday bookings following searches on the site in the last week were for holidays in July and August against just 10% a fortnight ago when demand was more for 2022.

The most searched destinations for package holidays were the Balearic Islands, headed by Majorca, followed by amber list destinations Tenerife and Crete.

The most booked overseas destinations in the last week were Majorca, Madeira, Lanzarote, Ibiza and Malta.

The price comparison site’s spokesperson Emma Coulthurst said: “Once the government confirms the date when quarantine on return will be dropped for the double vaccinated and more countries are likely to open up to Brits in the coming weeks, demand will increase to get away. This could see prices going up.

“Currently, seven night package holiday prices are starting as low as from £150pp to amber destinations such as the Canary Islands and the Greek islands which the Foreign Office has given the OK to holiday to.

“Comparing prices across the holiday market there are still good green list package holiday prices too from as little as £185pp for a family during the school holidays to the likes of Malta and Madeira.

“Package holidays tend not to see the immediate steep fluctuations in prices which flights do due to airline revenue management systems. Some holiday providers own their own airlines and can control prices, or the flight and accommodation prices have been secured by holiday providers in advance.

“Packages are nearly always better value than going DIY and they also give you better financial and legal protections.”

Research by travel insurer Battleface found that two-fifths (41%) of people plan to spend more on their holidays once international travel resumes. More than a third (34%) intend to take longer breaks away.

But Which? Travel editor Rory Boland issued a note of caution.

He warned: “With restrictions easing and cases rising, it’s been suggested that several million people could be required to self-isolate by law this summer – and if they have travel plans booked, most travel providers currently say they will not allow customers to claim a refund.

“This could leave travellers facing bills of several hundred pounds for trips they can’t take and struggling to get a refund.

“However, the CMA’s guidance is clear that people who cannot travel because they are undertaking mandatory self-isolation should be entitled to a refund.

“Holiday operators and airlines cannot shirk their responsibility to refund customers who cannot travel for a second summer, so companies must ensure they are offering the option of a refund to customers whose plans are disrupted by having to self-isolate.”

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