TRavel agents stopped selling summer holidays for July and August due to lack of clarity on the government’s airlift plans.
It was thought that the green light would be given on Monday to the British to visit up to 50 countries, including Greece, Spain, France and Italy, without the need to quarantine on their return. But the announcement was delayed and Greece said yesterday that flights from the UK could not resume until at least July 15th.
Lee Hunt, chief executive officer or Deben Travel, said he was reluctant to accept reservations because of uncertainty. “If anyone wants to book, and they are asking me questions that I cannot answer truthfully and knowledgeable, then this is not fair for us a business,” he said.
“It will bring complaints, bad publicity and even more refund requirements. Customers ask us questions that we simply don’t have the answers to or, in fact, give guarantees or assurances.”
He said to TravelMole: “We don’t feel comfortable taking people’s money and not knowing what they get.”
Kane Pirie, head of Vivid Travel, said the plane’s plans were “the emperor’s new clothes”. “They don’t exist. The politics of governments around the world are changing on a daily basis,” he said.
“These complicated bilateral agreements are too inherently unstable to allow customers to plan their holidays. The air bridge with Greece has just fallen overboard, without even a single sketch.”
The government has also been put under pressure by tour operators who claim to have been kept in the dark about plans to resume travel abroad.
Noel Joesphides, director of Aito, the Specialist Travel Association, says travel companies are increasingly frustrated by the lack of detail.
“The problem is that the government starts promising things two weeks before, so everyone starts getting ready, so nothing happens,” he said. “It’s much better if they don’t say anything and then we all wait for an official announcement.
“We need at least two weeks to send messages to our customers. We can’t simply do it [start holidays again] if they tell us tomorrow that we start the next day, it is simply impossible.
“We need to know if we’re going to save anything this summer. Nobody heard anything. “
Tui, the largest European tour operator, said he also needed more details. Andrew Flintham, CEO of Tui UK and Ireland, said to the BBC on Tuesday: “We really need that certainty, so if in the middle of the week or Wednesday, or whenever it will be, if the government can provide us with that list of destinations we can go to. “
Some, however, are more optimistic. It is understood that Secretary of Transport Grant Shapps will reveal on Wednesday how several countries have been classified into a new traffic light system.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel advice The PC Agency and spokesperson for the Quash Quarantine campaign group, said he expected “a riot of colors tomorrow afternoon, with a series of green and amber countries announced”.
“This visibility will help the industry confirm previous summer bookings and sell last minute availability,” he said. “There will be countries that do not want to accept UK citizens until the number of our cases decreases further, but there will be enough choice revealed tomorrow to help build confidence and ensure that those who want holidays abroad can guarantee them “.
Abta, the British travel association, said: “Confirmation of the list of countries is anticipated in advance by customers and the travel industry, so they can plan ahead.
“Once travel restrictions are lifted, customers should be aware that their vacation experience may be different due to Covid-19. Protecting public health is a priority and it will be important that customers talk to their travel provider about any changes in the resort and look for safety measures in place within the destination they have chosen to go to. “