Travel industry bosses say bookings for trips to France have boomed following news that the country’s borders with the UK will reopen tomorrow.
Since mid-December our nearest continental neighbours have banned those without proof their journey is essential.
But from tomorrow, everyone who is fully vaccinated – and a negative Covid test from the previous day – will be able to travel.
Since today’s announcement, eager holidaymakers have been making room in their calendars for journeys across the Channel – with a host of bookings for this weekend.
The news has come as a relief to ferry and shuttle services who were hit hard by the French’s hard stance on preventing the spread of Omicron.
Speaking today, John Keefe, director of public affairs for Eurotunnel operator Getlink, said he is “very pleased on behalf of all of our customers,”
“There’s such a pent-up desire to travel at the moment,” he said.
“All of the inquiries that we’re getting are ‘do you know when the border is going to open, do you know when the French are going to relax the measures?’
“So this is a really welcome piece of news – it’s a great time for the restrictions to be lifted.
“We’ve already seen today the number of hits on our website has more than doubled, almost instantly when those announcements came out.
“People are booking straight away for this weekend, and then the bookings for half term are starting to flow.
“The great thing about travelling through the tunnel using the shuttle is the fact that in your own car, you’re completely isolated from everywhere. So it’s a wonderful way to be travelling at the moment.”
‘It’s a great time for the restrictions to be lifted…’
Travel firms which struggled during the festive period are keen to make the most of the winter ski season and the upcoming February half term break.
Chris Parker director of capacity and commercial performance at the DFDS, says there is now a “very healthy interest” in travelling 27 miles across the Channel
He said: “One of the things that we’re bringing in as soon as possible is a return to day trips and also our coach service that we want to run from Kent to the duty free shops in Calais and Dunkirk, for example.
“It’s been a really difficult problem because quite often these restrictions are brought in very short notice, for good reasons.
“In the end, it’s about consumer confidence, customer confidence, and being able to travel. That’s the damaging thing.
“The really good sign in what we’re hearing from across Europe is that there’s a general trend towards opening borders again.
“People are now seeing that we are not at the end of this pandemic, but we’re certainly approaching the end of it. I think there’s an expectation by the end of the year that the virus will become endemic.
“So this year we’re in a different place to last year.”