Agents insist they are acting responsibly when booking amber destinations but remain frustrated by mixed government messaging.
Ministers have warned consumers not to travel to amber countries on holiday but operators are running programmes to destinations the Foreign Office does not advise against non-essential travel to.
While most agents are not actively promoting amber destinations, such as the Canary Islands and some Greek islands, they are taking bookings.
Paul Waters, director at Premier Travel, said: “It’s down to the client if they want to travel. We’ll provide them with all the information – potential restrictions and testing requirements – and ensure they have a good, valid insurance policy.”
The Advantage Travel Partnership has given members a ‘traffic light support pack’ to advise clients who want to book amber destinations.
Leisure director Kelly Cookes said “not many” members were “actively promoting” amber countries for imminent departures, but added: “We are seeing bookings for amber destinations for later in the summer.”
“Customers are finding it hard to understand what they can and can’t do,” she said. “There is frustration from those that have moved their holidays multiple times and definitely a lack of understanding on why they can’t get a full refund if they don’t want to travel.”
Agents said a “joined-up” government approach was needed.
New campaign group Target, which has now attracted 950 agents, said trade bodies should mount a legal challenge against the amber advice.
Co-founder Graeme Brett, director of Westoe Travel, said “without clear guidance from government, agents are stuck in the middle”. He said: “Members have reported customers becoming irate and aggressive after trying to cancel holidays to amber destinations but [where] operators are saying the holiday is still operating.”
Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson said clients were nervous. She said: “With so much contradictory advice, it’s not surprising customers are confused.
“If government does not act now to ensure travel advice is clear and to align its internal departments, and across the four nations, we’re set to have another tricky summer.”