Jet2holidays boss Steve Heapy says it will be “a massive thing” for tour operators if the Canary Islands could be open to travel from the UK this winter.

While welcoming the government’s announcement of island corridors last week, he noted the current high infection rates meant it was “difficult” to see restrictions lifted for the Canaries in the coming weeks.

But he said he saw island corridors as a long-term positive, as they allow travel to European island destinations popular with holidaymakers despite travel restrictions being imposed on those countries’ mainlands.

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“In the round, it’s probably a good thing,” said Heapy, speaking during Travel Weekly’s Future of Travel Week. “It’s very easy after every decision made by the government to criticise them, and it’s caused us a bit of hassle because including destinations like Zakynthos (Zante) and Crete, which are big destinations for us, but it will be worth the pain on those destinations.”

Heapy said opening up the Canary Islands for winter would be “a massive thing”, but admitted that “it’s very difficult to see that it will be open” in the winter because “infection rates are about 60” [at time of recording].

Noting the rate was on a “downward trajectory”, he said: “We could be in the situation where we get the Canaries for winter. And that’s great. So, it’s a bit of a pain. But the if this carries on for some time, the Canaries, the Balearics, all the Greek islands, Funchal, Malta, will be available. There’s lots of destinations that will benefit.”

Acknowledging Jet2 is the biggest airline and tour operator from the UK to the Canary Islands, Heapy said: “We really need that back, as do all other tour operators.”

Winter “will be down” admitted Heapy, who said “the question is how much is it going to be down?”

Heapy noted that “people tend not to book” destinations that are “not on sale at the moment”.

So because winter is “dominated by the Canary Islands”, which are currently off sale, he predicted a “very late booking market” which “may have less destinations”

Madeira, Cyprus, Antalya, Faro, Alicante and Malaga are also big winter destinations for Jet2holidays, said Heapy, but he stressed: “If the Canaries aren’t part of that, it could result in a very bad winter.”

He said Jet2 was “trying to stimulate people to book for the winter” by highlighting its record on customer service as he believes bookings will be made on “more than price” and “about trust”.

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