Travel news latest: Holiday bookings surge as demand returns to pre-pandemic levels


The cost of going on holiday has tumbled as new travel testing rules come into force.

Following an announcement from Boris Johnson on Wednesday, travellers are now saved from the costly process of taking a lateral flow test before their return to the UK (costing roughly £20 per person) and a PCR test on day two of their arrival (costing roughly £80 per person) – for a family of four this cuts £500 off the price of a holiday.

Under the new rules, which come into force at 4am on Friday, fully vaccinated holidaymakers will now only face taking a Day Two lateral flow test. 

Tour operators are standing by for a surge in bookings, for both ski and winter sun holidays. Ailsa Pollard, CEO of DNATA Travel Group, which owns the likes of Travel Republic and Travelbag, described the news as “the positive start to the 2022 that the travel industry needs.”

“There have been many false dawns since this pandemic begun, but this is a sensible and timely move. There are some fantastic deals available, with many new measures in place to ensure customers can book with total confidence.”

In a further boost to travellers, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We want to provide more certainty to passengers and businesses, and will do a full review of our international travel measures for 2022 by the end of the month.”

Testing hasn’t been completely scrapped however. Unvaccinated travellers must continue to follow the old rules, including self isolation for 10 days, and many destinations require travellers to take tests before their arrival.

Scroll down for the latest updates.

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What do the new changes to travel testing mean?

Qatar Airways to restart flights to South Africa

Like many other airlines, Qatar Airways imposed a flight ban on South Africa in November. 

Australia’s national carrier has announced it is to drop the ban and resume scheduled flights between Sydney and Johannesburg for the first time in 21 months, from January 13.

French parliament approves tougher vaccine pass rules

 France‘s parliament on Thursday approved President Emmanuel Macron’s tougher plans for a vaccine pass to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

People in France have for several months had to show either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to enter venues such as cinemas and cafes and use trains. But with Delta and Omicron variant infections surging, the government decided to drop the test option in the new bill.

The legislation, which applied to over-16s, will go to the Senate before a final vote in the National Assembly. 

Novak Djokovic refused entry to Australia

Tough travel rules around the world don’t just impact holidaymakers – Novak Djokovic has been dramatically refused entry to Australia, potentially wrecking his defence of his Australian Open crown barely 24 hours after it looked to have been rescued.

Novak Djokovic has been dramatically refused entry to Australia, potentially wrecking his defence of his Australian Open crown barely 24 hours after it looked to have been rescued.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said that Djokovic had failed to provide sufficient proof to receive a medical exemption to enter the country and insisted that the Serb was not “singled out” for scrutiny over his visa cancellation.

He said: “Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders”. 

Read the full story here.

novak protest

 Darrian Traynor/Getyy

Holiday bookings bonanza beckons

Moves to scrap omicron travel restrictions will be a major boost for Britons planning ski trips or winter sun breaks, reports Charles Hymas.

After falls of 40 per cent or more in sales over Christmas, travel analysts including Skyscanner predicted an instant spike in demand similar to the 131 per cent surge in searches just hours after the restrictions were lifted in September.

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents carriers, said: “This is a hugely welcome move at a critical time in the booking season for passengers, and will provide a massive boost to those wanting to travel abroad or come to the UK this year.

Read the full story here.

Yesterday’s headlines

Before we begin, here’s a reminder of the top news from Wednesday:

  • We’re back to pre-omicron travel rules, with no pre-departure test and a Day 2 lateral flow with no self-isolation period
  • The travel industry has welcomed the news, but called for all testing rules to be scrapped
  • A surge in demand for holidays is expected following the announcement
  • France to slightly ease restrictions on travel to the UK
  • Hong Kong has banned flights from Britain
  • Why masks could be on planes forever

Now, on with today’s news. 

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