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‘Significant’ US demand hampered by entry rules confusion

Enquiries for US holidays have jumped “significantly” but a lack of clarity on entry rules has impacted immediate departures.

The US announced on Friday that travel restrictions will be lifted from November 8 for foreign citizens fully vaccinated with Covid-19 vaccines approved for use by the World Health Organization or by the US Food and Drug Administration.

But it has yet to clarify if those aged 12 to 18 will need to be double‑vaccinated and what tests are needed pre-arrival.

Following the announcement, the UK’s Foreign Office updated its travel advice, urging Britons to “wait and see” how entry requirements would be implemented.

Gold Medal said sales spiked “within hours” of the date being confirmed, with call volumes jumping 13% on the prior week.

“It was our biggest week for enquiries so far in 2021 and our second-best in terms of revenue,” said sales director Nick Hughes.

USAirtours chief executive Guy Novik said US sales had risen 50% in October after the announcement that borders would reopen, but added: “Since we’ve been given the date, we’ve had a jump in enquiries from people due to travel in November and early December who now want to postpone until next year.

“The lack of clarity around the age you need to be double-vaccinated to go to the US is the number-one issue.”

Premier Holidays sales and marketing director Debbie Goffin agreed: “The news for the US has created a great deal of interest but not for immediate travel due to the lack of clarification.”

The operator said US enquiry levels were now on a par with 2019 but bookings in the past week were 74% up on the same week two years ago. The “vast majority” of its bookings and enquiries were for 2022, other than for this Christmas.

Agents also reported increased demand, mainly for Christmas or 2022.

Average sales values were also rising as clients “traded up”. Gold Medal said average booking values were 50% up on 2019, while USAirtours said average spend was up 20% as clients upgraded their hotel or chose to stay longer.

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