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The transport secretary has told people in Britain not to book holidays domestically or abroad, in another blow to the UK’s embattled travel industry.
“People shouldn’t be booking holidays right now – not domestically or internationally,” Grant Shapps told the BBC’s Today programme. It is “too soon”.
Domestic and international travel companies have pinned their hopes for recovery on a return to something like normal service over the summer as the vaccination programme allows people within the UK to emerge from national lockdowns.
Shapps said Boris Johnson would lay out on 22 February how the UK plans to lift lockdown restrictions but said it was not clear that holidays would be included in those plans because of uncertainty over the development of vaccinations and pressures on the health service.
International holidaymakers face the added complication of potential quarantines on arrival from some countries, amid concerns over the possibility of vaccine-resistant variants of Covid-19. The government has said that arrivals in the UK who lie about their travel history will be liable for prison sentences of up to 10 years, although the plans have been criticised as being heavy-handed.
Easing of restrictions on international holidays would be influenced by “not just the vaccination programme here but the vaccination programme internationally, because people will be going outside of our borders”.
Some travel companies have reported increased bookings from customers hoping to secure a deal, and, in many cases, leave the UK for the first time since March 2020.
On Tuesday, the Anglo-German tour operator Tui said it expected a return to international holiday travel this summer. Tui has put on 80% of its 2019 summer holiday programme for 2021, with Greece and Spain the most popular destinations. Greece and Spain are significantly behind the UK in terms of the proportion of people vaccinated.
EasyJet last month said that it foresaw a “reasonable chance” of a good summer for the UK airline, while regulators banned an advertising campaign by Ryanair, its Irish rival, that said customers could “jab and go” this summer. The advertising regulator said it encouraged risk-taking.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Too soon to book holiday in UK or abroad, says Grant Shapps | Travel & leisure