Monday’s so-called "freedom day" (19 July) meant very little for the trade according to Advantage Travel partnership chief Julia Lo Bue-Said, with agents continuing to suffer from a lack of product to sell owing to government travel rules.
Lo Bue-Said said flights to viable green list destinations represented only 4% of 2019 flights, and warned that despite the changes to the amber list quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travellers, there was still no certainty their amber status would endure.
"As we saw with France last week, that can change at any given moment which is deeply affecting consumer confidence, which is already at an all-time low and exacerbated by the ’pingdemic’ whereby hundreds of thousands of people being told to self-isolate due to rising cases in the UK."
Advantage chief executive Lo Bue-Said said the group saw a "small increase" in bookings in the week leading up to the 19 July unlock, up 10% week-on-week, with the Canaries, Balearics and UK proving the consortium’s most popular destinations, followed by Greece.
"The current traffic light system has been made unnecessarily complex, restrictive and unfair for the British consumer and the travel industry," Lo Be-Said continued. "Because of the continued changes, we are already seeing a trend in last-minute bookings, and of the bookings made to depart in 2021, 64% were for departures in July and August which demonstrates how late the market is.
"This is likely to be being driven by families wanting to get away in the summer holidays and also people wanting to go and return in between the traffic light list updates. The industry is of course appreciative of any bookings given the last 18 months of uncertainty, however, this is not sustainable long-term and makes it very difficult to plan, forecast and operate holidays and travel arrangements."
Lo Bue-Said said it was vital the government review its traffic light regime to ensure it is fit for purpose, that the criteria underpinning it are applied consistently, that it is transparent about the data and that there is a single source of communication between government and the industry to avoid confusion.
"Given that most people have been double vaccinated and/or must be able to present proof of a negative PCR test in order to travel, depending on their destination, then we need to make sure the traffic light framework is implemented properly and allow those who decide to travel to return from either green or amber listed countries and continue with their plans, including restriction free travel for fully vaccinated people from low risk countries."