Agents are taking a cautious approach to selling holidays this summer, with some refusing new bookings until there is more clarity on travel corridors and in-resort operations.
The trade reported a rise in enquiries for July and August holidays following the government’s confirmation of a relaxation of quarantine from July 6.
The Advantage Travel Partnership is compiling a Q&A checklist for members including details on insurance and what to do if clients contract Covid-19 in resort. Leisure director Kelly Cookes said: “There is certainly some concern from agents about selling holidays for this summer.”
Paul Waters, director of 24-branch Premier Travel, said: “New sales are important but not at the risk of clients not feeling comfortable about travelling to their destination.”
Helen Dooley, partner at More Travel, has a client due to depart by train on Saturday to a villa in the south of France – and is providing clients with thermometers, hand sanitisers and masks.
“I’m nervous about the logistics,” she said. “We’re assuming quarantine will be lifted by my client’s return but I’ve made it clear it may not be.
“I’ll only work with reliable operators which provide the most up-to-date information.”
Other agents are not yet comfortable booking July and August breaks.
Deben Travel owner Lee Hunt said there were too many unanswered questions about how kids’ clubs and water parks would operate and what would happen in the event of a lockdown in resort.
“I need to be comfortable that what I book is what they get when they go away,” he said. “We have a reputation to uphold.”
Daniel Salmon, founder of Never a Wasted Journey, said he had already turned down ”big bookings” for travel before September. “I want to make sure clients have the most enjoyable time away and are safe,” he said. “At the moment, I can’t guarantee that.”
Haslemere Travel owner Gemma Antrobus is putting together a “need to know” checklist for clients and called on hotels to put clear information on their Covid-secure measures online.
Antrobus, who is specifically asking customers if they have Covid insurance, said: “I’ve had calls from people wanting to go to Greece imminently and said ‘no’ because the FCO advice has not changed.”
RB Collection joint managing director Oliver Broad said: “We are here to provide clients with as much information as we can, but they must feel confident.”
Speaking in a Travel Weekly webcast, The Travel Network Group’s chief executive Gary Lewis said: “The government has been appalling in its ability to communicate. It absolutely causes confusion. But selling holidays now, that go in July and August… I don’t think we should be doing that anyway, until we have absolute certainty.”