Holiday and flight bookings surge after lockdown exit plans

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Holiday bookings surged after the announcement of a roadmap for ending the lockout, airlines and travel agencies said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions states that hotels can reopen and overseas travel will be allowed from May 17 at the earliest.

The government’s global travel task force will meet again to issue a report by April 12 recommending how international travel can be safely facilitated.

Mr Johnson said it will “give people time to make their plans for the summer”.

Tui said they had their best day of reservations in more than a month before the summer, with keen interest in Greece, Spain and Turkey.

Thomas Cook told the BBC that bookings were “pouring in” for countries like the Dominican Republic, Greece, Cyprus and Mexico.

EasyJet also reported a 337% increase in flight bookings, according to the broadcaster.

It saw a 630 percent increase in vacation bookings for places like Alicante, Malaga, Palmo, Faro and Crete.

Travel industry executives have expressed relief that Britons are allowed to take a summer vacation.

Mark Tanzer, managing director of travel organization Abta, said the summer vacation will be crucial both for “the travel companies whose revenues have been wiped out” and for “the millions of people who desperately need it. to travel again ”.

But he urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use next month’s budget to provide “tailored financial support” to travel agents and tour operators to “get them through the weeks to come.”

Paul Charles, managing director of travel consultancy The PC Agency – which co-founded the Save Our Summer campaign, said the announcement was “the news the travel industry really wanted.”

He continued, “This means more consumers can be reassured that their 2021 summer trip can take place, or that they can get a refund or reset their travel date.

“They can book knowing this summer will be even safer than last year.

“We’ll need to see the finer details in future reviews of the industry restart, but the Prime Minister’s comments are certainly much more positive and realistic than those made by some ministers just two weeks ago.

Earlier this month, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said overseas vacations would remain banned until “everyone” has received a coronavirus vaccine.

His comments sparked an angry backlash from the travel industry, which accused him of undermining consumer confidence.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said it was “essential that we start looking for a way to resume travel”, adding that he was “happy the government has recognized this”.

He continued, “We support a data-driven approach that protects public health. We want to work with the government task force on a roadmap now to ensure aviation is in a strong position to support the UK as we emerge from the pandemic.

Tim Alderslade, Managing Director of the Airlines UK trade body, said: “We are grateful to the Prime Minister and the Department for Transport for providing the clarity the entire industry has been looking for so that international travel can reopen this summer, as soon as possible. that they will be safe. do this.

“This will reassure not only airlines that desperately need a summer season, but also families who want to visit friends and family and take a long-awaited vacation, and we know there is a huge pent-up request for restart. operations. “

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