Trade leaders have hailed Portugal’s late confirmation that it will be open to UK tourists from Monday, with one describing it as “the news we’ve all been waiting for”.
EasyJet holidays confirmed its first planned departure, from Luton to Faro, will commence on Monday morning – its first package since December.
Chief executive Garry Wilson said: “This is the news we’ve been waiting for, and we’re really excited to be taking our customers on their first overseas holidays of 2021 from Monday.
“We may not have been able to take people away over the past few months, but we’ve been taking the time to focus on delivering safe and enjoyable holidays and provide industry leading choice and flexibility to our customers.
“Here’s to the start of summer 2021 and sending many more people away safely on their well-deserved holidays once again.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said the confirmation was “wonderful news”.
“Portugal is a key summer destination for the UK market and it is a hugely important destination for many of our members who now have some product that they can sell for imminent travel,” she said.
“This goes to show that the discussions and decisions on whether countries will allow visitors in, despite them being on the UK’s ‘green list’ are incredibly complex, and the speculation around these decisions creates a lot of anxiety and distress for both consumers and our travel agent members.
“We remain positive that this is the first step to safely reopening travel and hopefully more destinations will be classified as green so that the industry can make the most of the forthcoming summer season.”
An Abta spokesperson said: “It is fantastic that, from Monday, people will be able to travel to Portugal for a well-earned break. It is a popular destination with UK holidaymakers – 2.8 million Brits travelled there in 2018. UK tourism is a really important part of the Portuguese economy, contributing half a billion pounds a year in normal times.
“ABTA is providing advice to holidaymakers looking to book and travel on their first trip abroad since the start of the pandemic which includes checking the Foreign Office travel advice, making sure you have all of your travel documents up to date including passport and travel insurance, and booking a package holiday through an Abta member for the greatest level of protection.”
Alan French, chief executive of OTA Thomas Cook, said: “It’s great to get confirmation that Portugal is set to welcome British holidaymakers next week once international travel resumes from the UK.
“We can see just how much people have been waiting for confirmation of the traffic light system with bookings more than triple what they were only a week ago making Portugal the most popular holiday destination at the moment. People are booking last-minute breaks to get their first taste of summer sun and rest and relax after these past few months.”