7:00 a.m. on January 9, 2022
Jet-set townspeople are dusting their passports and pulling out sunscreen after the government eased restrictions on testing for people returning from vacation.
Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers and those under 18 coming to England will now no longer have to take a test before returning home.
And Amanda Smith, branch manager of Hays Travel in Norwich Haymarket, said it promises smoother navigation in her industry over the coming months.
She said: “We are feeling very positive. I have personally booked several vacations to Lapland, Tenerife and an American flight.
“The feedback from customers has been very positive and they are really looking forward to finally being able to book and knowing that things are going in the right direction.”
She added: “People haven’t been able to indulge in a while and have had to cancel vacations several times because of the pandemic.
“As a team, we want to book the dream vacation for every customer that walks through the door.”
However, Attleborough Travel’s Rebecca England said while the news is welcome, she believes it is still leaving some families in “limbo”.
She said: “People are still not sure due to restrictions in Europe for children to be vaccinated for travel at this time.
“I have seen a few more inquiries come in, but the conversion is low and passengers are still worried because they know how sudden changes can happen.”
Ms England said she believed the industry needed more support.
She added: “I had to close my main street store and move to work from home.
“As an industry, we are optimistic about the summer season, but we appreciate that travel confidence is still low as tour operators offer more flexible travel, which reassures travelers.”
Nick Lee, owner of Broadland Travel Worldchoice, added that he has seen bookings increase but does not expect levels to return to pre-pandemic levels this year.
“The latest changes will help the industry. Over the past two days, inquiries have increased, as have bookings, but nowhere near the level of two years ago.
“As a company, we don’t expect anything back to normal until 2023 at the earliest.”
What’s the best vacation deal on the market right now?
With a range of options to choose from, deciding where to go on vacation can be a challenge.
Ms Smith believes there are some great deals to be had for vacationers looking for a tan this summer.
She said: “There are incredible deals for the Maldives, as well as Kenya safaris and family deals and closer home villas across Spain and the Canaries.
“Plus, you have the security of booking with an agent and the help and support we can offer face to face rather than online.”
Mr Lee thinks people shouldn’t just wait until summer to get a decent deal.
He added: “Why not start the New Year the way you want it and spend it on the upper deck sipping a cocktail and looking out to sea?
“A seven-night Caribbean cruise with flights in February from Gatwick and premium drinks costs just £ 699 per person.”