UK travelers set sights on summer sun
British people dared to dream again about sun-drenched beaches and turquoise oceans after Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap away from lockdown restrictions on Monday.
Travel agents reported a surge of summer-holiday bookings on Tuesday, with the United Kingdom’s largest operator by volume, TUI, declaring a 500 percent jump in bookings overnight.
The clamor for some summer sun followed Johnson unveiling a timetable for ramping down restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The timetable merely mentioned that, all being well, the government will look, on May 17 at the earliest, at allowing a resumption of international travel.
He also told lawmakers on Monday that a global travel task force will publish a report on or before April 12 about how international travel may best be resumed.
Travel operators said many people immediately started gambling on international holidays being allowed to resume in July.
The BBC quoted TUI as saying Greece, Spain, and Turkey were the most popular destinations.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI in the UK and Ireland, said the government’s apparent eagerness to get international travel moving again was “positive”.
“We’re delighted to have dates to work toward,” he told the BBC.
Thomas Cook, another of the UK’s major travel companies, said its website was twice as busy as usual following Monday’s announcement. The company said Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Greece, and Mexico were among the most popular destinations.
“The government’s announcement ... is good news for those of us desperate to get away on holiday,” Alan French, Thomas Cook’s chief executive, told the BBC.
Airline EasyJet reported a 337 percent jump in flight bookings, and keen interest in trips to Alicante, Crete, and Malaga.
The Financial Times, meanwhile, reported that Greece believes the UK authorities should do even more to get the international holiday industry moving again.
Quoting Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis, the paper said Athens wants nations to use vaccine passports so people who have had jabs can visit destinations that have been hard-hit by the pandemic.
Despite critics of the idea, vaccine passports will be discussed at an EU summit due to start on Thursday.
Greece, which earns around onefifth of its GDP from tourism, suffered mightily during the novel coronavirus pandemic with travel no longer possible.