Travel frenzy: wave of British tourists expected as Turkey leaves red list
Thousands of Britons are set to return to Turkey, one of their favorite vacation spots, after an upheaval in overseas travel rules sparked a booking frenzy.
Britain on Friday simplified the rules for international travel to boost the tourism industry, including removing the need for fully vaccinated passengers to take expensive COVID-19 tests upon arrival from countries with low risk.
Under the new proposals, destinations will simply be rated low or high risk, instead of red, orange and green. Eight countries, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives, will be removed from the high-risk red band.
The decision means fully vaccinated people returning from Turkey will not be required to self-quarantine in a hotel. The changes will take effect from Wednesday.
The news has already sparked a surge in vacation bookings to the relief of vacationers and travel agencies.
Vacation company TUI said it has seen a “surge” in bookings for Turkey, which has spent the whole summer in the red travel category.
The nation was added to the high-risk category in May and has since been primarily off-limits to UK travelers, blocking the country’s vibrant tourism industry and the vacation plans of millions of potential visitors.
Turkey was the most popular destination on the red list, attracting around 2.3 million British holidaymakers a year before the pandemic.
From October 4, passengers arriving from low-risk countries will be allowed to take a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than the privately administered PCR lab tests now required. PCR tests for a family can now cost hundreds of pounds.
Unvaccinated travelers will still need to self-isolate for 10 days and undergo coronavirus testing before and after their trips, the government said.
TUI UK Managing Director Andrew Flintham said the changes were a “positive step forward” and would provide “much needed reassurance” to those looking to book travel.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said they have seen demand intensify over the past few days, and “there has been an immediate and massive increase in flight bookings and package holidays to following this good news for vacationers. In England.”
Heapy said bookings had increased “by more than 250%”, noting that Turkey was “proving to be” exceptionally popular “.
“Thanks to the certainty that yesterday’s announcement brought to customers, destinations at all levels are selling well, whether it’s late summer sun, winter or next summer. As you might expect, semester dates have also seen an increase in bookings for families, ”Heapy said.
He noted that they would resume flights to Antalya and Dalaman from September 23, including from Birmingham Airport.
“We are excited to restart this program and with some great deals to come we know there will be a phenomenal demand for late summer sun, mid October breaks and winter sun. The same goes for the more than 40 destinations to which we operate.
Skyscanner said it saw a 133% increase in traffic within 30 minutes of the announcement, according to the Daily Mail, as there had been “huge increases” in searches for destinations such as Turkey and Maldives ahead of the Friday news.
The Turkish Travel Agency Association (TÜRSAB) has said it expects at least 200,000 Britons to arrive in the next three months.
“We were hoping this decision would have been taken much sooner. Many of our guests from the UK, who miss Turkey and wish to spend a holiday in our country, were also awaiting this decision, ”the association said in a statement.
He noted that tour operators had started receiving bookings in anticipation of the development. “We expect the decision to exclude Turkey from the Red List to have a positive impact on tourism.”
While Turkey’s tourism rebounded strongly from last year, with foreign visitor arrivals in July quadrupling to 4.36 million, it remained well below pre-pandemic levels. absence of the British having blocked progress.