Agents have given the government’s plans to lift quarantine for fully vaccinated amber list arrivals a cautious welcome, while warning there were still several factors – including the hassle and cost of testing – that stood in the way of a wider resumption of international travel.
On Thursday (8 July), transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK from amber list countries would no longer have to quarantine from 19 July.
Suffolk-based Julie Croucher, owner of Travel by Jules, said she was "cautiously optimistic" about "getting people going again" this summer following the announcement.
Croucher said she hoped the move would spark an influx of bookings for the rest of the summer. "I have a lot of families already booked to go away from 18 July," said Croucher. "I have seen a lot more life and enquiries since the announcement.
"The concern before for people was the testing prices, especially in places where we specialise such as Greece. They’d have to pay a fortune and then also have to self-isolate when they got home. A lot of my clients were wanting to cancel because of it.
"I’m cautiously optimistic I will get these people going. That’ll hopefully bring in a bit of income towards the end of the month."
Rob Kenton, managing director of Oxfordshire-based Triangle Travel, told TTG on Friday (9 July) he didn’t expect bookings to bounce back immediately, and was looking ahead instead to September and October.
"This week has been very good," he said. "On Monday, we did more businesses in one day than we did the whole of last week. Tuesday was positive, along with Wednesday.
"Yesterday [Thursday], we had no bookings at all, so the bounceback didn’t happen – but the enquiries did. The enquires started flooding in, which is great. The interest is there.
"We’re ready to go, it just depends on the clients and how the market reacts. The announcement was really positive, a sensible one as well, but we still have to be very careful."
Kenton said the next "big hurdles to overcome" would be the issues around PCR testing. "I don’t think it’s so much around the price of a test for my customers, it’s more about the logistics of the testing," he explained.
"But it certainly feels different in a very good way. I can tell from the morale of the staff – they’re very upbeat, meaning they’re getting busy, adrenaline is starting to run, and it does feel different."
Sandra Corkin, managing director of Oasis Travel in Northern Ireland, reported an immediate increase in enquiries on Friday morning (9 July).
"Hopefully this will lead to some business over the summer," she said. "School holidays started here last weekend so, unfortunately, a lot of families have already made plans – but it is a step in the right direction."
Northern Ireland will allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated amber list arrivals from 26 July.
Lee Hunt, owner of Deben Travel in Woodbridge, offered a more downbeat outlook, stressing how he did not believe the update on its own would be enough to "save our summer".
Hunt described the move as "a great step forward" and "a relief for clients" who are already booked to travel to amber list destinations in the coming weeks, but he said some customers were still feeling "anxious" about the testing requirements.
"Speaking with clients, the testing – and the cost of testing – is still a big issue, particularly for families," said Hunt. "The government needs to remove the VAT from testing, which will help.
"I do not believe this will save our summer. From a business perspective, bookings would be a huge boost to us financially, but I’m now planning for this winter and summer next year."