The number of UK holidaymakers booking trips to destinations on the government’s amber list has shot up. This follows the announcement that fully vaccinated passengers will be able to travel to amber list countries without needing to quarantine upon return.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know, including the effect that the surge in bookings might have on your holiday budget.
What are the new rules for amber list countries?
Under previous rules, people returning from amber list countries, including traditionally popular holiday destinations for Brits such as Spain, Italy, France, and the United States, had to quarantine for up to 10 days.
However, on 8 July, the government announced that UK holidaymakers who have received two jabs from the NHS will not need to self-isolate after returning from countries on the amber list. This change will come into effect from 19 July – the same day that all remaining lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted.
Although travellers won’t have to quarantine, they will still have to take a test three days before they return. They will also have to take a test on the second day after they are back. However, they will not need to take a test on day eight.
Those who haven’t received two jabs will still need to quarantine for 10 days after returning from amber list destinations. They will also still have to take a test two days and eight days after they return to the UK.
What’s happened to holiday bookings to amber list countries?
Not surprisingly, the quarantine rule change has led to a spike in holiday bookings to amber list countries.
According to a report from the BBC, EasyJet’s flight bookings to amber list countries were up 400% following the announcement. Meanwhile, holiday bookings at the company were up more than 440% on the previous week. Tui also reported a surge in website visits.
Another travel firm, Skyscanner, reported a 53% increase in traffic from the UK 30 minutes after the announcement, as reported in the Evening Standard.
Thomas Cook announced a big surge in holiday interest, with searches for amber list holidays doubling moments after the announcement. Searches for holidays in Greece were three times higher than in the previous week.
Will holiday prices go up?
The UK Travel Association (ABTA) has warned that following the rule change for amber list countries, prices for holidays could increase as more people book. This is because the industry is “very much led by supply and demand”.
However, analysts think this is unlikely. According to a Which! research quoted by the BBC, holiday prices before and after government green-list announcements “stayed the same or went down, not up”. The consumer website says that so far, prices have not increased to popular destinations on the amber list.
Out of 14 package holiday prices and six flights to Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal that the website tracked departing during the peak holiday season last August, 12 packages remained the same price and two increased. Four of the six flights rose in price, although the average fare increase was a meagre £7.
This is certainly welcome news for holidaymakers, many of whom might have been concerned about having to dig deeper into their pockets or even cancel their summer getaway plans due to possible massive holiday price increases.
What else do holidaymakers need to know?
Different countries currently have their own travel restrictions. These can change on a week-by-week basis. Depending on where you want to travel, you may face quarantine upon arrival. So, keep this in mind before you book or travel.
Remember also that the government’s traffic light ratings can change at any time. If your holiday gets cancelled due to a change, getting a refund may not be easy.
If you do decide to risk booking early, consider taking out travel insurance first. Depending on your cover, you may be protected if your holiday can’t go on due to government travel rules changes.
If possible, also consider choosing a package holiday. Package holidays are ATOL-protected, which means you could get a refund if the airline or travel company goes bust before or during your holiday.
Finally, to save on costs while on holiday, consider carrying a travel credit card with you. These cards don’t charge you extra for non-sterling transactions or cash withdrawals. Having one could help stretch your money further during your getaway.
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