Newmarket Holidays has nearly 100 departures planned for September and October after successfully running its first tour since the start of the UK lockdown.

The operator’s Scottish Highland Railways tour ran on August 21, its first since March. A total of 11 clients joined product director and tour guide Andy Jones on the trip.

All trips departing during September and October will continue to be accompanied by a tour guide and a member of the product and operations team as the operator monitors protocols and contact with customers during their tour experience.

The company said feedback from customers and other holiday partners were important to the continual assessment of the wellbeing of clients and their ability to confidently travel on Newmarket’s tours.

Jones said: “Above all our customers need to feel confident travelling again, and we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes to safely get tours up and running again, ensuring that each and every component of our tours are operating in a Covid-friendly way.

“We have given all suppliers an extensive Covid health and safety audit in accordance with the latest regulations. Customers are sent tour-specific documents before they travel, which includes information on their destination and the precautions in place during the tour.”

Jones stressed that social distancing was in place on the tour and mask-wearing where appropriate while the tour manager had Covid training prior to the trip.

He said: “The hotels, coach company and other suppliers had done a great job in adapting to the new regulations: seating on the coach and at the hotel restaurant was spaced out to comply with social distancing rules, and capacity on the Loch Ness cruise was cut.”

He added there was “genuine excitement” among the group to experience the tour, calling it a “big success”.

“Whilst it was certainly a different touring experience, the most important thing was that it was safe, and the safety measures didn’t impact the customers’ enjoyment. One customer has already booked another Newmarket tour for next month,” said Jones, who said the operator was confident tours could now operate with the “right planning and vigilance”.

He added: “We are fully aware of our responsibility to our customers to make that happen – but also to ensure for the wider industry that this is achieved successfully so that we can be a part of rebuilding consumer confidence, that is a really important consideration as we work together to get our industry back on its feet again.”

The operator is offering agents who book a tour for September or October a £10 Love2Shop voucher.