Scrapping of holiday testing rules a 'huge leap forwards' for travel agents

The scrapping of tests for travellers entering the UK has been described as a "huge leap forwards" on the road to normality by travel firms.

Fully-vaccinated holidaymakers will no longer have to be tested or self-isolate after arriving in the UK from February 11.

And it is now expected that Summer 2022 will see bookings back to pre-pandemic levels, following a turbulent time for the industry.

The change is a boost for half-term holidays, with the rules for those who do not count as fully vaccinated changing too.

Dame Irene Hays, owner and chair of Hays Travel, who has branches in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Rugeley, is delighted with the updates to the rules.

She said: "It has been an incredibly difficult two years for the travel industry but this news will be transformational for consumer confidence.

"Our branches in the West Midlands have been extremely busy and we are so pleased to welcome both new and existing customers through the doors."

Travel rules are also being eased for arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.

At the moment they must currently take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival PCR tests, which are more expensive than the lateral flow version.

They must also self-isolate for 10 days.

However they will no longer need to self-isolate from February 11, and the testing requirements they face are being reduced.

Andrew Flintham, Managing Director for TUI, who has stores in Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Cannock, believes the announcement is a 'huge leap forwards' in getting back to normal.

He said: "The relaxation of testing rules has already resulted in an increase in bookings, with customer confidence growing every day in recent weeks.

"We now look to the Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to adopt the same approach.

"Many families look to go on holiday over the February half term, so we are delighted these changes will come into effect in time.

"Going abroad will finally start to feel more normal again and without the added expensive of testing.

"And we now expect summer 2022 bookings to be back to pre-pandemic levels.

"We know that many of our customers haven’t been away on a well-deserved break for more than two years and we can’t wait to take them on their holiday."

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary added that the Government intends to move away from "blanket border measures" to a "more sophisticated and targeted global surveillance system" in the future.

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays which operates flights from Birmingham Airport, said the announcement means vaccinated customers can once again book and travel on the normal, hassle-free holidays that they knew and loved.

The airline said that with bookings already returning to pre-pandemic levels, the removal of all tests for vaccinated customers arriving into the UK had resulted in another 30 per cent surge in traffic and bookings on last week.

Mr Heapy said: “This travel update is a real game-changer for the millions of people who simply want to get away to enjoy their well-deserved holidays.

"We applaud the Government for taking meaningful action to end a set of measures which were not only unnecessary but also ineffective in tackling the spread of the Omicron variant. This should now represent a permanent end to such restrictions, and we know customers will celebrate that news."

Mr Heapy added: “Since the Government announcement we have seen a notable increase in demand for holidays and flights across all seasons, particularly February half term, the Easter holidays and Summer 22. "

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