France travel restrictions another big blow, says Suffolk travel agent

Deben Travel

France's travel restrictions come as a blow to travel agents, but there are still other opportunities to go abroad - Credit: PA/Deben Travel

France's decision to only allow UK residents to visit for ‘essential purposes’ is a massive blow to the tourism industry, according to a Suffolk travel agent.

Lee Hunt, director of Deben Travel in Woodbridge, says his industry has been on its "knees since the pandemic started" and missing out on a top ski destination during the winter is going to hurt his business further - but that there are still plenty of options for winter holidays.

France has said that people cannot visit the country for tourism or professional reasons, but only for an essential reason.

"It's another massive blow," said Lee. "We missed a huge percentage of the ski season last year, our winter finances are propped up by the ski season, that's where we really do make our money through the winter.

Deben Travel

Lee Hunt, Director of Deben Travel - Credit: Deben Travel

"And again, we've got cancellation and people looking to transfer their holidays to next year."

Popular breaks to Disneyland Paris have also had to be cancelled or rearranged and general confidence for other ski locations like Italy and Austria has dropped significantly.

The government has supported the aviation side of industry and not the travel agent side, according to Lee, who also feels they are in exactly the same position they were 18 months ago.

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"We've been running at 20% of usual operating levels, " Lee said. "We only earn money when people travel."

"Although more people did travel this summer, with changing rules there's a real lack of confidence.

"People don't want to be stuck overseas, people don't want to book and potentially lose out."

The amount of uncertainty means Deben Travel is "simply not making anything".

However, the hope of catching some winter sun doesn't need to be completely abandoned, but you need to be prepared for last minute changes.

For winter sun, places like Mallorca, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura still open, there are a few forms to complete.

For the skiers, resorts in Italy, Austria, Slovenia, and Bulgaria are still open.

Lee recommends booking early for best offers and availability and make sure your flights are ATOL protected, so in the worst case you'll end up not going to go on holiday but won't lose any money.