Some long-haul destinations ‘looking at February 2021 restart’

Some long-haul destinations may not open up to international visitors until February 2021, according to the boss of Kuoni.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly Webcast, Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni parent Der Touristik UK, said: “We’ve been tracking our global DMCs’ views on when they’re likely to be open to accept visitors from other countries and you might be surprised at how far out some of those countries are talking about.

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“A lot of long-haul destinations are genuinely talking about even as far as February next year before they think they’re going to be accepting new arrivals.”

But Jones added: “The majority have probably landed around about September, October time. So we reached the position quite some time ago now where we’ve taken a fairly pessimistic view of a restart any point earlier this summer. We’ve assumed that our departures are going to start further out.”

He said that Kuoni was fortunate as the July and August departure window was not as critical as it was to some operators.

EasyJet Holidays commercial director Alex Loftus said his focus had also moved to late summer and next year.

“As an airline, we will be reviewing a number of different scenarios and we are being cautious in our approach. Obviously, when we think the time’s right and when things are clearer, we’ll be able to announce when we’ll be restarting but we’re still very much evaluating it at the moment,” he said.

“The airline is obviously more immediate for this summer. For easyJet Holidays, we’re seeing interest further out in the summer and for next year. So that’s our focus at the moment.”

Asked if the company was now pinning its hopes on 2021, Loftus replied: “Exactly. From winter and into summer but where we’re seeing the interest in searches is into summer next year.”

He said the government’s announcement of a 14-quarantine for people coming into the UK had been “confusing”.

“We do need a lot, lot more clarity, in terms of which countries, when people return to the UK, they don’t have to quarantine and equally, we need a lot more clarity from European countries in terms of what the policies are going to be there.

“It makes it much more difficult to plan for our customers and future holidays until we understand that and how that links in with FCO advice, and how that links in with what’s going on in the countries with hotels being opened and safe.

“We still require a lot more clarity for our customers and to be able to put plans in place for the future.”

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