The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has said that quarantine free ‘air bridges’ are going to be opened to countries that have put in place a covid test and trace system comparable to Britain’s. The announcement has driven a 50% surge in bookings of foreign holidays as, even before the official announcement, frustrated travellers are making their bookings.
According to a report in The Times on 25th June, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France are amongst the countries that will be covered by the scheme, which is due to be confirmed on Monday 29th June, with flights starting about a week later.
Alongside the introduction of the ‘air bridges’, the Foreign Office travel advice is to be revised with a relaxation from the current position of recommending only essential travel. It means that for the first time since mid-March, holiday travel will be back on the agenda.
The Prime Minister confirmed earlier this week that domestic holidays will also be possible from July 4th, with hotels and campsites that are deemed to be ‘covid-secure’ being permitted to re-open. Some companies have seen bookings increase by 800% since that announcement and it has been suggested that Devon and Cornwall are ‘full’ for the summer.
Judging by the crowds on the UK’s beaches this week, there is no shortage of willing takers if the opportunity to take a sunshine break presents itself.
The interest in long-haul remains low, with online searches for holidays to the USA down by more than a fifth, but searches for Britain’s preferred European hot spots like Mallorca, the Canaries, Spain, Portugal and Greece are up by anything from 30 to 100%.
The Transport Secretary has said that the quarantine-free ‘air bridges’ are a “massive priority” given the dramatic impact that covid19 has had on the aviation industry, calling it a “complete disaster.”
Providing testing and a viable track and trace system are in place, with the capability to alert anyone who has come into contact with coronavirus, it seems for hopeful travellers and the industry the worst is behind us.