Great Britain

Holiday bookings rocket to THREE times normal rate as Brits scramble to sort getaways after amber list & PCR tests axed

HERE COMES THE SUN

HOLIDAY bookings have rocketed to three times the normal rate as sun-starved Brits scramble to nab getaways following changes to travel rules.

Travel firms reported a "massive" surge in bookings after the amber list and expensive PCR tests were axed.

Demand for October half-term trips was three times higher than in August as travel companies announced sales.

Industry bosses said this weekend is expected to be their busiest for bookings so far this year.

In a boost for travellers, ministers have also shrunk the red list - with Turkey, Egypt, Kenya and the Maldives among those declared Covid safe today.

Under the government's new rules, double-jabbed passengers no longer have to take pre-departure tests before returning to England.

Day two PCR tests after returning here will be scrapped from the end of October.

'TAKE OFF'

The changes have injected new life into the beleaguered travel industry amid a bonfire of the hated traffic light travel system.

Alan French, chief executive of Thomas Cook, said this weekend was expected to be the busiest in bookings so far this year.

He told Daily Mail: "The news today is a shot in the arm for both the travel industry and families up and down the country who are crying out for some much-needed late summer sun.  Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far.

"Bookings for October half-term are up more than 200 per cent compared to August as people lock in great prices for beach breaks in their favourite Mediterranean sunspots."

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy PC Agency, told Sun Online: "This is take off for the travel industry.

"Already I'm hearing stories of people booking Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kenya. In the last two hours the airlines and tour operators are seeing very strong enquiries.

"There has been a pick-up in the long-haul market. With the removal of key countries from the red list, like Kenya, like Egypt, like the Maldives, those will see very strong sales over the weekend.

"The confidence has really returned tonight."

I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far

Ian French, CEO of Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook said today was already its second busiest day of the year for bookings - despite the new relaxation in travel rules only being confirmed just before 5pm.

CEO lan French said October half-term bookings were up more than 200 per cent compared to August - with this weekend set to be the holiday giant's busiest of the year so far.

Mr French said: “The news today is a shot in the arm for both the travel industry and families up and down the country who are crying out for some much-needed late summer sun.

"Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far as people take advantage of the great deals on offer, the new easier rules on testing and the simplified system for international travel."

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2, said: “We have seen demand step up over the last few days.

"There has been an immediate and massive surge in bookings for flights and package holidays on the back of this welcome news for holidaymakers in England."

TravelSupermarket said searches for Turkey package holidays were already its fourth most popular this month - despite only being removed from the red list this evening.

Emma Coulthurst, travel advice expert from the holiday price comparison site, told Sun Online: "It will be an incredibly popular option."

'MASSIVE SURGE'

Managing Director of TUI UK Andrew Flintham said: “We’ve already seen an uptick in bookings for Turkey in October and a big increase in bookings for those looking to enjoy some winter sun."

But he called for the red list to be slashed further "given no variants of concern have been identified".

Following tonight's announcement, shares in easyJet and Wizz Air close also went through the roof and to the top of the FTSE 250.

Travellers returning from red list countries must currently quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel costing £1,750.

From October 4 ministers are simplifying the messy traffic light system to a simple Go/No Go list, as already revealed by The Sun.

The current amber and green lists will merge into one "rest of of the world" Covid safe list.

Eight of the 62 countries currently on the red list are being taken off, with a view to keep stripping more places over the coming weeks.

Turkey, Egypt, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kenya will all be struck off the red list next Wednesday at 4am.

It means fully-vaxxed holidaymakers will finally be able to take a break in these places without forking out thousands for hotel quarantine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said today's changes are locked in until the New Year - meaning Christmas breaks are safe.

From the end of October, double-jabbed travellers can swap PCR tests for cheaper lateral flow swab on day two of their return - shaving about £100 off the price of holidays.

Brits won't be able to use the free NHS kits but fork out £30 for supervised swabs.

Pre-departure tests for those returning to England will also not be needed if you're fully-vaxxed.

Travel update UK - Amber list SCRAPPED and expensive PCR tests ditched in biggest holidays boost since pandemic began

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