Bookings to amber list countries surge by 400% after quarantine announcement

9 July 2021, 06:12

Bookings to amber list countries have taken off following the announcement fully vaccinated passengers will not need to quarantine upon their return
Bookings to amber list countries have taken off following the announcement fully vaccinated passengers will not need to quarantine upon their return. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Bookings to amber list countries have taken off following the announcement fully vaccinated passengers will not need to quarantine upon their return, travel firms said.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs on Thursday that UK holidaymakers who have received two jabs from the NHS will no longer be required to self-isolate for 10 days on their return to England from destinations on the amber list.

Eager Brits wasted no time in booking their summer breaks, and easyJet said bookings to amber list countries were up 400% compared to a week ago, and the airline had put on more than 145,000 extra seats.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet's chief executive, said: "We have always said that vaccination is the key to unlocking travel and now millions will finally be able to reunite with family and loved ones abroad or take that long-awaited trip this summer.

Read more: Quarantine scrapped for double-jabbed UK residents returning from Amber list countries

"But with unnecessary testing staying in place, more needs to be done. We do not want to see a return to flying being a preserve of the rich, and expensive testing could sadly make travel out of reach for some this summer."

Travel firm Skyscanner said 30 minutes after the announcement, the agency saw a 53% increase in traffic from the UK compared to the same time on Wednesday.

Martin Nolan, from the company, said: "It's clear that people are aching to be able to travel again within the guidelines, as evidenced by the immediate uptick in searches and bookings we've witnessed as destinations have been added to the green list.

"This is a huge moment for the UK travel industry, who have been waiting for measures that will truly help to kickstart travel in a safe, smart and sustainable way.

Read more: Amber list: What are the new rules for holidays and which countries are on it?

"This move will reunite families and allow people to finally plan travel to their favourite destinations around the world, many of which will be delighted to finally be able to welcome UK travellers for the first time in a year."

Thomas Cook said web traffic doubled in the moments after the announcement, and has only grown since.

A spokesperson said: "Searches for Greece have tripled in volume and will be the biggest winner from families booking last-minute summer holidays.

"(Before Thursday) we have been selling very few holidays to amber countries and so with Greece, mainland Spain and Canaries all now available to people who've been double jabbed we'd expect a flood of bookings over the weekend."

In his announcement, Mr Shapps said under-18s will also be exempted from the quarantine requirement and that the guidance not to travel to countries on the amber list will be lifted by July 19, when the majority of restrictions are expected to be eased in England.

He said people returning from holidays from amber destinations, including France, Spain and Portugal, will still be required to take a Covid-19 test three days before returning.

They will also have to take a test on or before the second day of their return, but will be exempted from the day eight test.

Mr Shapps added the rules "may differ" in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The move was welcomed by airlines, with Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye calling the changes "a much needed boost to millions of people across Britain looking forward to a more normal summer and reuniting with family and friends abroad".