Tourism demand surges ahead of changes to travel ban prompting price rise fears

Tourism bosses are bracing for a huge surge in demand this week, prompting fears of rising prices for customers.

The Government is expected to unveil a number of countries holidaymakers will be free to travel to without having to isolate for 14 days later this week.

Under the rules currently in place, overseas arrivals need to self-quarantine for a fortnight, provide contact information for spot checks and police are allowed to use “reasonable force” to enforce the measures.

In plans which came in for heavy criticism from the travel industry, passengers face £1,000 fines for not adhering to the rules.

But under the air bridges policy, which ministers have been mulling over for several weeks, tourists will be able to go to and from a select group of countries where the risk of infection is low.

Popular destinations like France, Germany and Spain are all reportedly expected to be on the list, although travel to Portugal may not be permitted following a rise in infections in the country.

But with some eager bookers pre-empting the move, there have been warnings supply could outstrip demand, leading to price rises.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Peter Jarvis from the website Spain-Holiday, which lists holiday rentals, said searches had rocketed by almost half on Saturday.

He told the paper there had been particular interest in small towns and villages as “people want to be away from the crowds in a standalone home”.

Another industry insider told The Sunday Times holidaymakers around Europe, who were informed foreign travel would be permitted weeks ago, have had a head start and snapped up villas, particularly in France, which could lead to disappointment when British tourists are given the green light to book.

There have been several signs of a surge in demand in recent days after the Government confirmed a traffic-light system for foreign travel, letting passengers know where is safe to visit, would be unveiled soon.

On Saturday, the Press Association reported the Eurotunnel website had crashed, with a spokesperson revealing they had more bookings in a single day than in the whole of the year so far.

Travel firm Tui said it had seen a 50% spike in bookings this week compared to the previous one, with holidays to Spain and Greece proving popular.

There is some good financial news for holidaymakers though: The Foreign Office is set to lift its caution against all but essential travel for those countries in the green and amber categories to coincide with the announcement, thereby reducing travel insurance premiums.

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