Hopeful Scots still booking summer trips and ‘bucket list’ holidays despite Covid-19
● Six out of ten travel agents booked in April
Scots are booking foreign holidays for as early as this summer, with many making reservations for “bucket list” getaways as a “reward” for observing the coronavirus lockdown, according to the world’s oldest travel organisation.
The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the umbrella body for the country’s travel agents, said the majority of its members placed new bookings last month for coming holidays.
In what may be a sign of the public’s growing desire to escape the restrictions, close in one in three travel agents surveyed (29.6 per cent) said they had made a booking for this summer, despite the fact there is no guarantee people will be able to travel freely by then.
More than half (52 per cent) have fulfilled a booking for the coming winter season, with the majority of agents (59 per cent) arranging holidays for next summer.
Some six out of ten travel agents booked breaks for customers in April, more than half of which (55 per cent) were for beach holidays.
Despite the spread of Covid-19 across cruise ships, many of which remain at sea during the pandemic, more than one in four (28 per cent) of travel agents surveyed said they had made new bookings for a cruise trip.
The SPAA said the lion’s share of holiday reservations were for European destinations, with 83 per cent of its members making such a booking.
However, further-flung places such as the Caribbean (40 per cent) and North America (37 per cent) also proved popular, with one in five making a booking for a trip to either Australia, New Zealand or the Far East.
Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA, said: “The customers who our member agents are dealing with have remained optimistic about
Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association travel. We’re finding that, after a period of enforced lockdown, travellers want something to look forward to and are looking to their bucket list of destinations for the holiday of a lifetime as a reward.”
“We are also seeing customers paying balances for their holidays in July and August 2020. People very much still wish to travel, if they can, this year.”
The bookings come amid warnings that the 14-day quarantine for travellers coming into the UK, while sensible, should have been brought in long ago.
The UK Government will reportedly enforce the mandatory quarantine for all UK arrivals within weeks as part ofmeasuresaimedatavoiding a second peak of the outbreak.
Dr Peter Drobac, a medical doctor specialising in infectious diseases and an academic at the University of Oxford, said there was merit to the idea, but said it will require a lot of planning and infrastructure at a “really fragile” stage.
He said the country had to figure out how to keep down the R value – the number of people the average infected individual would spread the virus to – outside of a lockdown.
Dr Drobac explained: “You can’t wave a magic wand and say we’re having a quarantine and expect it to work. There’s got to be a lot of infrastructure in place to make that effective.
“To me, this intervention of a mandatory quarantine for returning travellers is probably a smart middle ground, as opposed to closing borders entirely which has a much more significant impact on limiting the flow of goods and economic pain and things like that.
“So, I think, in short, yes, this should have been done a long time ago, but given the current state of affairs it makes sense to consider this now.”
Under quarantine measures, all passengers arriving at airports and ports would be required to provide an address at which they will immediately self-isolate for 14 days.
It was also reported that “authorities will conduct spot checks”, with punishments for those not adhering to the rules including “fines of up to £1,000” and deportation.
Travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are expected to be exempt from the quarantine.
The SPAA accepted that whatever measures are put in place, it was “uncertain” what “safe travel” would look like.
Ms Dooey said any further measures, such as temperature screening and tightened boarding measures for air travellers, must be designed to give people “confidence to fly” and ensure the cost to operators remains affordable.