UK Relaxes COVID Testing Requirements as Travel Bookings Spike

The UK has relaxed the COVID testing requirements for people travelling abroad. From October 4th, the government decided to scrap the traffic light system of red, amber and green destinations.

Additionally, fully-vaccinated travellers will now only be required to take day 2 lateral flow tests. These have replaced the requirement to take more expensive PCR tests.

The test must be taken within 2 days of arriving in the UK. This easing of restrictions will greatly benefit the travel industry, with holiday firms already reporting a huge spike in bookings as a result of the changes.

A considerable surge in bookings

Following the most recent travel regulations changes, holiday firm Thomas Cook said customers were “already booking in their droves,” with the company experiencing its best days of bookings as a result of the adjustments. In fact, the firm claimed that their bookings for half-term holidays increased by a huge 200% in comparison with August.

Skyscanner also reported that their web traffic increased by 133% within 30minutes of Mr Shapps’s announcement. They also reported that searches for destinations like the Maldives and Turkey, had skyrocketed in the lead-up to the announcement.

Airlines including EasyJet and British Airways have also welcomed this change. It has increased the pressure on the government to get rid of all testing requirements for people travelling in and out of the UK.

Karen Dee, the president of the Airport Operators Association, also urged ministers to relax restrictions further. She claims that the UK’s aviation sector has not recovered at the same rate as its peers in other European countries. In fact, she forecasts that UK airports will only accommodate around 20% of passenger numbers in comparison to a typical year, whereas European countries will see at least 50%.

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Easier rules for travellers to understand

Part of the reason bookings have spiked as a result of the restriction changes, is that the rules are now less confusing for travellers. In fact, Chris Parker, director at DFDS ferries, said the changes ‘will make it much easier for customers to understand’.

Gone are the days of taking several tests pre and post-departure. Travellers also won’t need to check the ever-changing traffic light list to ensure they are taking all the correct steps. Prior confusion and uncertainty put a considerable barrier on people wishing to travel, with many choosing to wait until they are sure they understand what’s required of them.

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A more positive outlook of the future

The removal of the traffic light system and simpler testing requirements has been generally seen as a positive step made by the UK government.

In fact, the previous travel restrictions caused much uncertainty and confusion. This undoubtedly contributed to the fall in bookings for holidays and trips abroad. The latest changes have given some measure of relief to the travel industry, with firms predicting more positive changes.

It is hoped by travel firms that the changes go some way to encourage Brits to feel less restricted and enjoy their holidays how they see fit. This includes travelling to foreign destinations. The removal of hurdles that discourage people from taking holidays abroad, has already created a much-welcomed surge in bookings and revenue. This has been much-needed after such a long time of uncertainty.

The future seems to look brighter for the travel industry as a whole. However, it may still take a long time for activity to resume at a normal level. As the vaccine rollout continues, there is much hope that the travel industry will keep pushing the boundaries of its recovery on a global scale.