‘Holidays are back on’ – trade reaction to scrapping of pre-departure tests

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By Lisa James
Home » ‘Holidays are back on’ – trade reaction to scrapping of pre-departure tests

Jet2holidays claimed an instant uplift in bookings as soon as Boris Johnson announced changes to travel testing, with CEO Steve Heapy saying ‘holidays are back on’.

The Prime Minister told the Commons on Wednesday that pre-departure testing for people travelling to England would be scrapped from Friday, and Day 2 PCR testing would be replaced by lateral flows from 9 January.

In response, Mr Heapy said: “This is the news that our customers and the industry has been desperate to hear. Holidays are very much back on for UK holidaymakers.”

Dnata Travel Group UK and Europe CEO Ailsa Pollard said clients are ‘eager to get away in the next 12 months and explore the world’.

“This is a sensible and timely move,” she said. “Let’s hope this means we can now get back to doing what we do better than anyone else in the world – selling holidays.”  

Travel Counsellors UK Managing Director Kirsten Hughes said the move ‘will boost consumer confidence and removes a major barrier to travel’, while Blue Bay Travel Chief Executive and ABTA Chairman Alistair Rowland called the pre-departure test ‘a significant barrier as consumers’ who ‘quite rightly, feared testing positive abroad and not being able to return to the UK on time, as well as the unknown costs associated with that unhappy situation’.

But ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer warned: “Damage has already been done, “adding: “We now hope to see confidence return as we enter what is usually the peak booking season for summer holidays.”

Charlie Cornish, CEO of Manchester Airports Group said: “The removal of these temporary measures is important recognition that travel restrictions should not remain in place if they no longer help prevent the spread of the virus.”

Other comments include:

World Travel and Tourism Council President and CEO Julia Simpson: “The removal of pre-departure tests and replacing Day 2 PCRs with more affordable antigen testing will significantly boost the UK travel and tourism sector and help both it and the whole UK economy recover much faster than expected.”

UKinbound CEO Joss Croft: “This is not job done. January to March is a key booking period for inbound travel and if we are to ensure the successful revival of the UK’s valuable inbound tourism industry, our fifth largest export sector, worth £28 billion to the UK economy in 2019, then the Government needs to provide a clear roadmap for the removal of all travel restrictions and to signal that the UK will be fully open for business.”

Flight Centre Corporate MD Steve Norris: This necessary decision will enable businesses to travel more easily and ultimately aid their recovery in the months ahead.”  

American Express Global Business Travel Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Crawley: “Travel restrictions have come at a huge cost to the business travel sector, which is the engine room of our economy, contributing £220 billion a year to UK GDP pre-pandemic.”

Ian Bell, Head of Travel and Tourism at audit, tax and consultancy RSM: “During the current peak booking season, the Government has thrown the travel sector a lifeline by removing the need for passengers to test before travelling.  The swift reintroduction of the measures in December last year dented consumer confidence to book and travel over the festive period which has been a further significant blow.”

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