‘On the Beach’ stops selling holidays up to August 31

Online travel agency On the Beach has extended its off-sale period for holidays from June 30 to August 31, following the announcements about the traffic light categories for travel.

On Friday, the UK government revealed just 12 countries were in the green category, while most holiday destinations were on the amber list, which means travellers from England must self-isolate upon their return.

On Tuesday, Scotland said it will follow England in allowing international travel to 12 green list destinations from next week.

On the Beach said the board’s decision was based on consumer feedback from research plus search and sales data “showing a market-wide lack of appetite for booking amber destinations, as well as the likely loss of customer goodwill for holidays that might be booked only to be cancelled or re-arranged”.

The statement added: “This position will be reviewed following the government’s update on travel and associated restrictions which is expected to be released at the end of May.

“On the Beach will monitor the situation closely, and return to selling summer 2021 beach holidays as soon as there is more certainty that new holidays booked will take place without disruption or cancellation, and that the traffic light requirements can be managed by authorities and consumers alike.”

Simon Cooper, chief executive of On the Beach Group, said: “There’s nothing we like more than sending people on holiday, particularly after the year that everyone has been through.

“But in the same way that 85% of consumers don’t want to book travel to red or amber destinations because there is no guarantee they will turn green in time for their holiday, equally there is every possibility destinations designated green will turn amber or red prior to customers’ departure.

“Given this, there is too much uncertainty for us to take new bookings with confidence that they will go ahead, or for us to know the potential inconvenience and incremental costs of taking holidays to either current green or amber destinations.

“Unlike many of our competitors, we have no interest in selling holidays that are unlikely to happen, as our business model enables us to put customers first, rather than needing to get cash in the door to contribute to high fixed costs, and offering refunds in the form of a voucher when holidays get cancelled.

“This is a temporary measure that we will review in line with the next government announcement.

“In the meantime, we will focus our efforts in helping and advising our customers who already have bookings of their options to either still go on their holiday, amend their holiday or, where the holiday is cancelled, refunding them in cash within 14 days.

“We are committed to putting the interests of consumers first, and in doing so, doing the right thing for the travel industry and our suppliers too.”

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “While several holiday companies are encouraging trips to amber list destinations, On the Beach’s decision to remove these from sale reflects the reality that most customers don’t want to travel against government advice.

“It’s also right to warn travellers about the risk of disruption and increased costs this summer. Travellers can make up their own minds about whether a holiday is right for them, but only if restrictions and risks are honestly explained to them – and this is often not happening.

“Anyone who is booking a holiday should look for a flexible booking policy that covers them against countries changing from green to amber or red between booking and travel.”

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