As recriminations continue over the UK government’s decision to remove Portugal from the green travel list, many Brits have decided to go ahead with holiday plans abroad, even if it means going against official advice. .
At 4:45 pm on Sunday, June 6, Pont-Aven, one of Brittany Ferries’ flagship cruises, will depart from Plymouth for Santander in Spain, the company’s first sailing on that route in eight months. The UK government says people should not travel to amber list locations like Spain and discourages everything but essential travel to the country, but that has not stopped the company, nor the more than 800 people who make the trip.
“The fact that Spain is still amber is very disappointing. But we’ve seen very little decrease in passenger numbers for the first trip, ”said a spokesperson for Brittany Ferries, who had gambled that the green light for trips at this point would be a given.
He added: “We suspect that most passengers are taking a pragmatic approach in government travel councils. The non-quantifiable threat of a possible new variant of Covid may be much less persuasive to them than a careful consideration of risk, based on hard data. “
They are not the only ones who have decided to remain calm and continue packing. It seems that a growing number of tourists, many of whom are older and will now have received both vaccinations, are beginning to make their own decisions about travel and the risks involved.
Noel Josephides, president of tour operator Sunvil, said that when it comes to destinations like Greece, also on the amber list, a “fair proportion” of customers still plan to travel. Sunvil’s clientele is overwhelmingly older and retired. “They have no qualms about going … and they don’t mind quarantining themselves,” he said.
Europe’s largest travel company, Tui, said that 50% of passengers booked to travel to Portugal with the company in June were still planning to travel. On Thursday, it was announced that Portugal, including Madeira and the Azores, would move to the amber list at 4 a.m. on June 8.
Just a few weeks ago, in May, Portugal had been the only major tourist destination included on the green list. At that time, Tui’s bookings to Portugal had soared by 182%.
While some Britons say they will move on, many others are now wondering what to do and whether they will travel abroad, or anywhere, this year. The uncertainty sent airline stocks tumbling for a second day on Friday.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, a frequent critic of ministers’ policy in this area, claimed that the UK government was “inventing on the goAnd that this ‘mismanagement of the Covid recovery’ had created ‘unnecessary disruption and stress for hundreds of thousands of British families’.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy PC Agency, a key industry spokesperson, said: “I think the danger is that the government’s decision has crushed confidence in people who want to book a vacation for the summer.”
He thinks that there will still be a getaway abroad during July and August, but that “it will be the summer of last minute reservations … It will be a busy summer.”
The green list is due to be reviewed again on June 28, and Charles said we could expect “a major offensive in the travel industry” to try to ensure that “the holidays are back” thereafter.
Many will argue that, at least this summer, a stay in the UK is the safest bet, if you can find a place at the inn. Over the past few months, vacation home websites, trailer park owners, and motorhome rental companies have reported huge increases in bookings – and prices as well.
Travel industry body Abta said: “If you look at the cost of national holidays this year, they have risen substantially.”
A spokesperson said there may be people who simply cannot afford those prices. “What will your vacation be?” they said.
Josephides firmly believes that confidence will return, for example, when those who take risks return from their trips abroad and tell their friends that it was okay and that there were no crowds.