Operators vow to maintain summer sales despite On the Beach pulling bookings

Mainstream operators have vowed to continue selling summer holidays despite OTA On the Beach stopping taking peak season bookings.

Tui and easyJet holidays will continue offering holidays to countries classified as amber under the government’s traffic light system for reopening overseas travel from Monday.

EasyJet said it would let people “make up their own mind about their holiday”.

Most countries are currently classed as amber, but it is not illegal to travel to them when holidays resume on May 17 for people in England and Scotland.

Instead, arrivals from these destinations will be required to quarantine at home for ten days and take a COVID-19 test before departure and on arrival.

Only 12 countries made the government’s quarantine-free green list for overseas travel announced last week.

A TUI spokeswoman told the BBC: “We want to offer our customers flexibility and choice this summer, so where borders are open and FCDO [Foreign Office] advice allows travel, we will operate to those destinations.

“We know some customers may be unsure about travelling this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone due to travel before the end of August.”

An easyJet holidays spokeswoman said: ”We recognise that many our customers do still want their holidays to go ahead, so for amber list destinations where holidays can be enjoyed safely and legally, which do not have ‘all but essential travel’ warnings and where there is no quarantine requirement in destination, we are providing flexibility and choice so customers can make up their own mind about their holiday.”

She added that easyJet won’t operate any holidays to destinations on the red list.

On the Beach Group chief executive Simon Cooper said yesterday: “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.”

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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