Travel firms are poised for an avalanche of holiday bookings after the UK Government announced it was removing all Covid testing requirements for vaccinated arrivals into England.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the need to take a lateral flow test by day two will be removed by 4am on February 11.
The devolved nations are expected to follow England in the next few days and Mark Tanzer, chief executive of trade body Abta, said: “Consistency across the UK is really important so we now need the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to adopt the same approach.”
Julia Simpson, World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive, added: “There is no longer any need for testing, and we urge ministers across the UK and countries around the world to follow England’s lead and allow the fully vaccinated to travel freely. After a gruelling 18 months, this will provide a massive boost to businesses up and down the country.
“We hope it will also see the end of the unnecessary passenger locator forms.”
The UK government announcement is expected to signal a rush to snap up foreign holidays – with the change arriving in time for the school half-term break.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, applauded the decision. He 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.
“The announcement means vaccinated customers can once again book and travel on the normal, hassle-free holidays that they know and love. 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.”
Traditional hotspots such as the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, mainland Spain, Italy and Portugal are selling strongly, and the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular Greece, Turkey and Cyprus are seeing enormous growth.
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Mr Heapy added: “With international travel once again starting to look like it did before the pandemic, customers are really jumping at the chance to make that booking, whether it is seeing friends and family, taking a holiday in the sunshine, a city break or a ski break.
“Many countries across Europe no longer require fully vaccinated customers to take a test, so it is great to see the UK join the club and allow hassle-free travel. We have a world-leading vaccination programme which until now, has not been fully realised.
“Allowing fully vaccinated customers and under 18s to travel freely without imposing testing on them is an enormous step in terms of getting our lives back to normal.”
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