Big boost in travel bookings as Covid tests end

Travel agent Lee Hunt from Deben Travel in Woodbridge. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Lee Hunt, owner of Deben Travel - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Travel agents have seen their first boost in bookings after Covid tests are set to be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers. 

Ipswich, Woodbridge and Hadleigh independent agents feel the relaxation of measures on February 11 has put the industry on the path to getting back to where it was before the pandemic.

Lateral flow tests two days after arriving are being stopped for double-jabbed travellers coming from outside the common travel area, but those who are not fully-vaccinated need to be negative for Covid before travelling and take a post-arrival PCR test. 

They do not need to self-isolate, however, everyone still needs to take a passenger locator form, which Deben Travel in Woodbridge wants to be scrapped. 

Its owner Lee Hunt claimed his older customers "do not have smartphones" and often find it difficult to fill in the forms while out of the country.

He adds: "We were approaching the cliff edge and now we are backing away from it. We are definitely seeing a huge increase in bookings. 

"We are not back to pre-pandemic and the end of testing for the return to the UK is giving more confidence to travellers. 

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"If you talk before 2020, it is not huge but definitely has been a double-digit increase."

The Woodbridge company has to wait until people are on their holiday before they make money as this is when they are paid by the airlines. 

Ipswich's Idelo Travel's Andrea Powell agrees that "consumer confidence" has returned. 

Andrea Powell, owner of Idelo Travel.

Andrea Powell, owner of Idelo Travel.

She claims that people are even booking for long distance destinations like Thailand, Maldives, Sri Lanka and US. 

Mrs Powell added: "I encourage people to book as prices are rising before your eyes."

Bridget Keevil, owner of Travel Stop with Hadleigh, Elmswell , Claydon and Buntingford offices said: "It's nowhere near January 2019. 

"It's gone up compared to January 2020 and really that was back when we were under lockdown."

Bridget Keevil, owner of Travel Stop travel agency. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Bridget Keevil, owner of Travel Stop travel agency. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

She said her biggest stress right now is getting staff to replace the ones who have left over the multiple lockdowns and furlough periods. 

Mrs Keevil said she hopes customers bear with them as their normal 24-hour reply time has increased to four or five days. 

"If the road keeps going in the right direction and there are no more variants, it will be good."