Fylde coast travel agents call for more clarity to get summer sunshine holidays off the ground
The misery of the toughest year ever for Fylde coast travel agents may be set to ease after Grant Shapps said people could “start to think about overseas holidays".
Transport Secretary Mr Shapps announced a “framework” for the resumption of overseas leisure travel, which included requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.
But he said these are likely to be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120 rather than the cheap lateral flow tests, which has sparked claims it will result in sunshine holidays for the rich only.
The government has talked about a traffic light system rating for destinations depending on the rate of coronavirus infections but no go-ahead is expected before May 17.
On the Fylde, coast travel agents have told of a difficult year, with no new revenue and working flat out to help customers transfer last year’s bookings, organising refunds for some and sorting out problems for those that travelled only to find they needed to quarantine when they got back.
Lisa McGovern, travel consultant, at Poulton-based Holiday Explorer said that everyone in the industry was waiting for clarity from the government after a tough year.
She said: “We have been a bit of a forgotten industry in the pandemic. Many got no government support and we have spent the year making sure our clients are properly looked after. It has been 12 months with no revenue.
“I have clients that have had to re-book four times. We had a 40 guest wedding in Mauritius booked for September that had to be cancelled. They have now re-booked for Cyprus which is lovely.
“I think once we get the go-ahead the flood gates will open. People are desperate to get away to the sun.
“Vaccine passports will be a part of travel going forward I am afraid and we need to see clarity from the government on its traffic light system.”
David McDonald from World Travel Lounge in Blackpool said: “We have been open for just three months in the past year.
“In that time we have pretty much focused on re-bookings and taking care of clients.
“The traffic light system will be good if people get plenty of notice about destinations. I was in Tenerife last year when it was suddenly added to the list and I had to quarantine when I got home.
“But there is huge pent up demand and we have seen a boom in UK breaks.”
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the requirement for PCR tests was “a blow to all travellers” and risked “making flying only for the wealthy”.
He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”
Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation Abta, said permitting the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus”.
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