Long-haul operators report rise in demand for Caribbean

Long-haul operators have reported a spike in interest and “queues” of people booking holidays to the Caribbean after a number of islands in the region were added to the UK’s green list.

More than half of the destinations operated by Sandals and Beaches Resorts are on the government’s green list, meaning those returning to the UK no longer have to quarantine.

Foreign Office advice no longer advises against all but essential travel to the 10 Caribbean destinations added to the green list yesterday, meaning package holidays can go ahead in line with Abta guidelines – whereas the FCDO continues to advise against all non-essential travel to other Caribbean nations.

Karl Thompson, managing director of Unique Caribbean Holidays, Sandals and Beaches Resorts’ UK tour operator, said: “We’ve already seen a huge demand from customers looking to book last minute holidays to Antigua, Barbados, Grenada and Turks & Caicos since the announcement.

“This long-awaited good news is not only exciting for our customers, who want to travel as soon as possible, but also for our staff and trade partners who can’t wait to get booking. Our call centre is very much open for business and our team is ready to help agents and their clients with new and existing bookings.”

Thompson added: “Yesterday’s news will not only drive business for last-minute holidays but will also give much needed confidence to consumers who already have Caribbean holidays booked to depart this year.

“The anticipated announcement next month to say that people who are fully-vaccinated won’t need to quarantine in the UK, even if they’re visiting amber list countries, will be very welcome and will drive bookings to destinations that aren’t yet on the green list, including St Lucia, Jamaica and the Bahamas.”

He said Sandals and Beaches properties are “ready to welcome holidaymakers from the UK safely”, adding: “We know how desperate people have been to travel and we can’t wait to get UK guests back to the Caribbean as soon as possible.”

Thompson also thanked travel agents for their “unwavering support during the pandemic”.

Derek Jones, chief executive of long-haul specialist Kuoni said: “It’s great to have some meaningful destinations on the green list, including Caribbean islands such as Antigua and Barbados.

“It’s a positive step forward which we welcome and we already have a queue of customers making booking with us.”

But he said “It’s worrying that most green list countries have gone straight onto the ‘watchlist’.”

However, he pointed out Kuoni’s Flex+ guarantee means customers can book “with confidence knowing that, if things change, we’ll take care of them”.

Jones added: “The best news from Grant Shapps was his announcement that later this summer, fully vaccinated travellers will not need to quarantine on their return from amber list countries. We hope and trust that this will happen as soon as is safely possible.”

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