“The clock is ticking” with regards opening up certain destinations for travel, and governments “need to get moving” if they are to salvage anything from the summer, says Jet2holidays’ head of trade.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Alan Cross said he was hopeful the UK government would reverse its decisions regarding quarantine and Foreign Office advice for the Canary and Balearic Islands, and that the Cypriot government will remove expensive Covid-19 testing requirements.
Currently, anyone arriving into Cyprus has to pay €90 for a test, which Jet2holidays feels is prohibitive to operating and led to it suspending holidays to the destinations.
“It would mean another £400 or £500 for a family going on holiday there, which we feel is unreasonable to ask for,” he said.
“When you look at Spain, we’re optimistic we’re going to be flying on August 17. We’re working to that date, whether it be the Canary Islands, the Balearics or the mainland.
“Cyprus is another hugely popular destination, but the clock’s ticking. And if we don’t start flying to these destinations, the hotels will start shutting down, as has happened in a number of cases so far. So it’s a chicken and egg situation, but we need to get moving. We hope the government in Cyprus changes its mind.”
He said the rationale for some of the UK government’s decisions regarding travel to Spain was flawed and unfounded.
“When you look at, if not the whole of Spain, but at least the Balearics and the Canaries, and all the reasons for not going there, we’ve got worse rates here in the UK. And again, in the UK, we manage things regionally, but we can’t do it when we go abroad. So, there’s something not fair; very unjust and hypocritical about some of the decisions that have been made,” Cross said.
“This government doesn’t reverse decisions but it does review on a weekly basis and if they review the evidence that we believe is correct [around infection rates] then make the right decision, then we’re confident they will reverse it, at least for the Canaries and the Balearics and make the decision based on the facts.”
Cross said Spain was still the biggest seller for summer 2021, despite current restrictions.
“Majorca was our top seller for summer ‘21 last week,” he said. “Tenerife was the second top seller and Benidorm was third. So certain things don’t change. The customer likes what they like at the end of the day, and that’s what we’ve been able to give them.”
He said that, prior to the decision to impose quarantine and extend the foreign office advice against all but essential travel to the whole of Spain, including the islands, demand had been building.
“At the start of Covid-19, we were in reactive mode,” Cross said. “We were very much servicing the refunds, responses and coping with everything that was happening. That had moved into a proactive mode; we were very getting into a sales attitude again and things were going well.
“But then late last Saturday [July 25, the government’s announcement about Spain] just came out the blue and pushed us back into reactive mode. Things were having to get turned around very, very quickly as you can imagine.
“We believe over Sunday and Monday we managed to control it well and customers at the airport were in great spirits. But on Monday night again, when the news about Majorca and the Canaries came out, it basically added insult to injury. But we’ve just had to get on with it.”
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