Demand for foreign holidays is recovering towards pre-pandemic levels following the relaxation of coronavirus travel rules, according to travel firms.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of tour operator Jet2holidays and leisure airline Jet2.com, said bookings soared after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that the testing and quarantine requirements for arrivals will be eased.
His firm reported huge popularity for trips to mainland Spain, the Canaries, the Balearic Islands, Turkey, and Greece.
From 4am on Friday, fully vaccinated travellers and under-18s arriving in the UK no longer need to have taken a pre-departure lateral flow test.
They will be able to take a lateral flow test rather than the more expensive PCR version for their post-arrival test from 4am on Sunday.
The changes will save a family of four about £300.
Mr Heapy said: “The relaxation of travel restrictions is welcome news for both the travel industry and holidaymakers and comes during what is traditionally a very busy period for holiday bookings.
“We have seen an immediate and dramatic spike in bookings, with volumes since the Government announcement heading towards pre-pandemic levels, which demonstrates just how much demand is out there among people wanting to get away for a much-needed holiday.”
A spokeswoman for tour operator Tui said Mr Johnson’s announcement “has given Brits the reassurance that travel will once again be easier and more affordable”.
She went on: “We’ve already seen an immediate and strong uptick in bookings and we now expect summer 2022 bookings to be normalised.
“January is traditionally the busiest month for holiday bookings and demand is yet to reach pre-Covid levels, so we need to see sustained confidence in travel so the industry can fully recover.”
The firm’s biggest booking spikes have been for Mexico and the Canaries.
Derek Jones, chief executive of luxury travel company Kuoni, said the easing of testing rules “should be the beginning of the end of Covid as a blocker to international travel”.
Mr Jones continued: “I predict travel will be 90% back to 2019 levels before the end of spring.
“We’re already seeing increased call volumes and inquiries about trips for the year ahead as confidence builds.”
A survey of 2,000 UK consumers by travel trade organisation Abta indicated that Spain is the most popular overseas destination people plan to visit in 2022, followed by the USA, France, Italy and Greece.