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Holiday bookings surge after UK amber list changes

·Contributor
·3-min read
BENALMADENA, SPAIN – JULY 08: People play in the sea as they enjoy the hot weather at the beach on July 8, 2021 in Benalmádena, near Málaga, Spain. AEMET reported that Andalusia will see temperatures between 5-10 degrees Celsius higher than July's average during this weekend. They forecast that Malaga and Almeria will be hit with the highest temperatures. Yesterday Malaga was on Yellow alert for high temperatures due to a local weather phenomenon known as terral winds, hot air that blows from the north toward the coast. The Andalusian Government does not consider adopting more restrictive measures against the Covid-19 pandemic for now because the health situation in the community 'is not concerning' right now. (Photo by David Benito/Getty Images)
People at the beach in Málaga, Spain. Both easyJet and British Airways saw the number of bookings for Malaga increase since the announcement. Photo: David Benito/Getty Images

Bookings for flights and holidays have surged since the UK government announced that fully vaccinated travellers do not have to quarantine in England when returning from amber-listed countries.

Budget airline easyJet (EZJ.L) said that bookings to destinations on the amber list increased by 400% since the relaxing of the rules on Thursday, adding that holiday bookings were more than 440% up on the previous week.

It revealed that Alicante, Corfu, Faro, Malaga, and Nice were among the top destinations for flights this summer.

Elsewhere, British Airways (IAG.L) said it saw a 96% increase in the number of views on its website compared with Wednesday last week shortly after the announcement, with people searching for trips to places including Barbados, Ibiza, New York and Malaga.

A spokesperson from TUI (TUI.L) told the BBC that the company had experienced a "surge in website visits showing demand is incredibly strong".

Read more: Travel stocks fly higher as UK government scraps quarantine for fully vaccinated

Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s chief executive, told the broadcaster that Europe had "now turned green for the double-jabbed".

"We have always said that vaccination is the key to unlocking travel and this means that millions will finally be able to reunite with family and loved ones abroad or take that long-awaited trip this summer," he said.

He also urged the government to "remove expensive testing" for fully vaccinated people, adding to criticism that travel will be too expensive for some families with testing requirements.

On Wednesday, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced that double-jabbed people returning to England will not have to quarantine for 10 days, starting from 19 July. This potentially opens up travel to 140 countries.

"I can confirm today that from 19 July, UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England," Shapps said in the Commons.

"In essence, this means that for fully vaccinated travellers, the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same."

Those who are not fully vaccinated still need to quarantine at home for 10 days and take a COVID test on days two and eight. Those who have received both jabs can skip the quarantine but still need to pay for a test three days before returning to England, as well as take a test two days after they are back.

Watch: Grant Shapps opens travel for double-jabbed Britons

The move now means that Brits can travel to popular tourist destinations in Europe such as Spain, Greece and Portugal, although these countries can still impose their own quarantine rules on arrival.

Travellers will still have to take pre-departure tests and will be required to take a PCR test on day two of their return, however, there will no longer be a test on day eight. Children under the age of 18 will not have to isolate on return if arriving from amber list countries, Shapps confirmed.

The government will count full vaccination as meaning 14 days have passed since the final dose of a vaccine - proof of this can be shown in the form of the NHS COVID pass or via a letter.

Read more: How to get travel insurance amid UK rulings on red, green, and amber countries

Although the news was welcomed across the aviation sector, travel agents' association ABTA warned that prices "may well increase as more people book". It said that the industry was "very much led by supply and demand".

"But this must be seen in the context of starting from a low booking base and there are currently very good value deals on offer," the company said.

It comes as the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, continues to spread across the UK. It is currently the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Britain making up around 95% of new cases.

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?

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