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Saturday, 27 June 2020

Travel firms report biggest Saturday sales EVER as people rush to book before 'traffic light' system letting Brits holiday in safest destinations WITHOUT quarantine is unveiled on Wednesday and comes into force on July 6

Travel companies report their biggest Saturday sales EVER as bargain hunters rush to book
Families can again book summer getaways after ministers agreed last night to open-air corridors with dozens of countries. The partial dismantling of Priti Patel's quarantine scheme means UK holidaymakers will be able to return home without having to self-isolate for 14 days. The changes will also let foreign tourists visit the UK, giving a huge boost to the beleaguered hospitality sector. Under the traffic light system, countries will be rated green, amber or red based (right) on infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace systems. 



The automatic 14-day quarantine requirement will remain in place only for 'red-rated' countries such as the United States and Brazil. Travel between 'green' and 'amber' countries will be quarantine-free. 'Green' countries include Austria, Croatia, Greece and Germany while 'Amber' countries include France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain. It is hoped an agreement will be reached with Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks to add them to the list of 'green' countries.

Tour operators were yesterday offering record discounts of up to 70 per cent for trips to France, Spain, Italy and Greece. The changes will also let foreign tourists visit the UK, giving a boost to the beleaguered hospitality sector.

Head of International Brands at Spain-holiday.com Peter Jarvis said: 'We're already seeing a huge increase in online interest in our holiday homes from the UK market, with pool properties being the most popular (up 104 per cent).

'Vigilance is absolutely still needed but with sensible precautions on either end we are confident we will see a safe summer in the sun for Brits again this year.'

Under the traffic light system, drawn up by the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England and set to be in place by July 6, countries will be rated green, amber or red based on coronavirus infection levels, the reliability of official data and confidence in test and trace systems.

The automatic 14-day quarantine requirement will remain only for 'red-rated' countries such as the US and Brazil. Travel between 'green' and 'amber' countries will be quarantine-free, but passengers will have to fill in a 'locator form' to trace their movements.


'Green' countries include Austria, Croatia, Greece and Germany while 'Amber' countries include France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain. It is hoped an agreement will be reached with Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks to add them to the list of 'green' countries.



Managing Director of TUI UK & Ireland Andrew Flintham said: 'We're pleased the Government has finally confirmed that holidays overseas will be able to go ahead, and the full list of green and amber destinations will be released on Wednesday.

'It's a hugely positive step forward for the travel industry and I know our customers will be ecstatic that their summer is saved.

'We've already seen bookings increase by 50 per cent this week, versus last, with holidays to Spain and Greece looking the most popular this summer. We know there were a lot of people hoping to travel and waiting for a certainty that would be possible.'

Spain-holiday.com, the third biggest holiday rental site in Spain, said it had a 42 per cent surge in bookings - 24 per cent higher than any previous Saturday.

Mr Jarvis said: 'So we would advise anyone who fancies falling back in love with Spanish paella, beaches and sangria this year to move fast.'

Tour operators were yesterday offering deep discounts to lure travellers abroad. A family of four can save well over £500 on headline prices to Greece.

Emma Coulthurst, of the holiday comparison site Travelsupermarket, said: 'There are prices as low as £140 per person for a week to Corfu in September and around £200 for a week in the Mediterranean in August. This is unheard of.

'For the height of summer in August, there are definitely some of the best prices on offer which we've seen. With talk of high demand and prices for holidays in the UK, it seems it is currently cheaper to book a holiday abroad than at home.'

TUI, Britain's leading tour operator, is offering as much as 68 per cent off-breaks to Europe and Trailfinders is offering reductions of a third on villas that would usually have been booked up months ago.  


Chairman Mike Gooley said: 'Bookings made now are benefiting from huge discounts.'

Downing Street warned it was ready to apply a 'handbrake' at short notice – meaning families could find the quarantine rules reinstated while they are abroad if there is an outbreak in the country they are visiting.

All travellers returning to the UK will have to provide contact details in case an outbreak is traced to their flight and they have to self-isolate. Failure to comply could result in a £1,000 fine.

And they will have to follow social-distancing measures on flights and ferries, including wearing face coverings.

How will flights look different?
Socially-distanced queues at check-in and security.

Passengers must wear masks throughout the flight, including children.

There will be temperature checks on arrival. 

Passengers will fill out contact tracing forms and give their holiday address and home address.


A detailed list of travel corridor destinations will be finalised next week but sources said it would include the most popular Mediterranean hotspots.

Portugal is in doubt following an outbreak in Lisbon that has led to the imposition of a curfew. Sweden will not be included and Turkey is also 'doubtful'.

Despite being touted by the Government as a country which could benefit from the new arrangements in little over a week's time, Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis indicated it could be up to three weeks before his country was happy to open up unrestricted travel with the UK.

He told BBC Breakfast: 'I feel the way things are now - and we always have to put this asterisk that the health situation has to continue to be on the same track as it is now - that we can certainly lift the restrictions in the next few days or, you know, two to three weeks.' Long-haul flights will be possible provided that any transit country is also deemed safe.

The moves pave the way for foreign holidays this summer, with travel corridors set to be in place by July 6.

A Government spokesman said last night: 'Our new risk-assessment system will enable us to carefully open a number of safe travel routes around the world – giving people the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad and boosting the UK economy through tourism and business.

'But we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if any risks re-emerge, and this system will enable us to take swift action to re-introduce self-isolation measures if new outbreaks occur overseas.'

Jonathan Smith from the Association of British Travel Agents welcomed the move, telling the Today programme: 'I think this is incredibly welcome news for the travel industry which has had a very difficult time these past few weeks and months and will encourage people to book and allow them to enjoy a summer holiday.'

But he warned travel firms still faced going bust with the huge numbers of redundancies seen in recent months set to continue.

He added: 'What is important now is that travel agents and operators have the opportunity to restart their businesses and the sector can start to recover because they have been having an incredibly difficult time.

'There have been many redundancies and firms have been unfortunately made bankrupt and that will continue to be the case for some time before we see a proper recovery.'  

A Whitehall source acknowledged many families 'may not choose to travel' this summer.

The air corridor scheme raises questions about the initial decision to press ahead with a blanket quarantine regime that has been in place only since June 8.

The plan, which was championed by Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings and Home Secretary Ms Patel, led to an immediate backlash from Tory MPs and the travel industry.
The partial dismantling of Priti Patel's quarantine scheme means UK holidaymakers will be able to return home without having to self-isolate for 14 days (pictured, people enjoy the warm weather at the beach in Barcelona)
Since June 8, all passengers - bar a handful of exemptions - have been required to go into self-isolation for a fortnight at a declared address when they arrive in the UK.

Those who fail to comply can be fined £1,000 in England, and police are allowed to use 'reasonable force' to make sure they follow the rules.

The International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) branded the blanket quarantine measures 'illogical' and budget airline Ryanair labelled them 'idiotic rubbish'.

Paul Charles, from pressure group Quash Quarantine, also hit out at the policy delays, telling the Sun: 'The Government has abandoned air bridges for this traffic-light system. This symbolises the made-up policy, lack of visibility and a lack of clarity, which is hurting our industry.

'Why are decisions being pushed back further? July is ebbing away in terms of bookings, half the summer is gone, and the longer this goes on there will inevitably be more job losses.'

But with Home Secretary Priti Patel promising to review the restrictions every three weeks, the Government has signalled that the quarantine will be lifted for a host of destinations in time for the holiday season.


Under the change all Britons will have to supply an address and a telephone number on their return, enabling them to be tracked and told to self-isolate in the event of an outbreak at their holiday destination.

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