The spike in demand over the last couple of days has been “encouraging and given the whole industry a lift, but there’s still room for caution”, according to the boss of Jet2holidays.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said he welcomed the government’s inclusion of international travel in its roadmap out of lockdown, but warned: “There’s still a long, long way to go.”
Speaking exclusively on a Travel Weekly webcast, he said: “We were very pleased to hear the government’s announcement. We’ve been lobbying for some time for travel to be included in the [roadmap] earlier this week. The indications were originally that we might not even get a mention, but we did do.”
Heapy continued: “It’s easy to criticise the government, but they’ve got a pretty hard job at the moment to be honest. I’m not being an apologist in any way for the government. But we have a roadmap: schools first, non-essential businesses, bars and restaurants, and then hopefully travel on May 17.”
But he added that there were several hurdles to overcome before the industry could restart, and urged everyone not to get carried away.
“The last 24 hours has been fantastic – we’ve seen bookings increase and hopefully it’s given everyone in the industry a lift, but there’s still room for caution,” he said.
“First of all, it’s not definitely May 17. It’s May 17 at the earliest. Secondly, it’s contingent on the global travel taskforce reporting on the 12th of April, and thirdly is dependent on foreign governments opening up and allowing us into their country.”
Heapy added that he had concerns over requirements for travel which may be put in place.
“Will there be vaccine passports – and if so, how will that work? If it’s an IT solution, then that worries me a little bit because the government’s record of IT implementations being on time and within budget isn’t great,” he said.
“And finally, what other restrictions will be in place? There might be really onerous legislation in place, there might be expensive things – we don’t know. But what we do know is people now have certainty and that’s what we said all along. If people have certainty, they want to book a holiday.
“So it’s good that we’ve got something to aim for now. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and I’m very happy on behalf of the whole industry, but just remember, there’s still a long, long way to go.”
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