Britons are being offered huge discounts on winter getaways as holiday firms and airlines look to tempt people abroad, amid talk of changes to the UK’s travel restrictions.
Some tour operators are offering up to 80 per cent off holidays to Spain this month in a bid to convince uncertain travellers to book a break this winter.
Meanwhile Ryanair has released thousands of cheap seats, including £20 return flights to popular winter holiday destinations such as Tenerife – where January highs reach 68F.
It comes as Sajid Javid today announced that all 11 countries on the coronavirus travel red list will be removed from 4am on Wednesday.
However Government demands for holidaymakers to take costly PCR tests on their return to the UK will remain in place.
Cape Verde: Britons are being offered huge discounts on winter getaways as holiday firms and airlines look to tempt Britons abroad, amid talk of changes to the UK’s travel restrictions. TUI has cut price deals to Cape Verde (pictured), where January temperatures can be up to 75F
Benidorm: Some holiday firms are offering up to 80 per cent off holidays to Spain (pictured: Poniente beach in Benidorm) this month in a bid to convince uncertain Britons to book a break this winter
Tenerife: Meanwhile Ryanair has released thousands of cheap seats, including £20 return flights to popular winter holiday destinations such as Tenerife (pictured) – where January highs reach 68F
Discount deals offered by TUI for December and January getaways
Hotel Riu Palace Santa Maria – All Inclusive – Seven Nights – Down from £1096 per person to £690 per person
Tamaimo Tropical – All Inclusive – Three Nights – Down from £606 per person to £236 per person
Riu Paraiso – All Inclusive – Three Nights – Down from £671 per person to £291 per person
Riu Playacar – All Inclusive – Seven Nights – Down from £1306 per person to £848 per person
Riu Palace Tikida Agadir – All Inclusive – Four Nights – Down from £644 per person to £304 per person
Hotel Rio Park – Full Board – Three Nights – Down from £657 per person to £127 per person
Prices correct at the time of publication
Travel bosses say the measure is creating a huge dent to confidence in the winter getaway market, because holidaymakers fear testing positive and being stuck abroad.
Holiday firm TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, is slashing prices to tempt Britons to book a winter getaway however.
One of the biggest discounts on its website is on holidays to Benidorm, on Spain’s famed Costa Blanca, where average January temperatures are around 61F.
One three night stay at Hotel Rio Park, full board, flying out from Cardiff between December 18 and December 21 has been slashed from £657 down to £127 per person.
Only double jabbed Britons are allowed into Spain under current rules, while holidaymakers will need to take a PCR test on their return to the UK.
These can cost up to £100 – nearly as much as the holiday itself.
TUI has also slashed some all inclusive holidays to Mexico in January by more than 35 per cent.
Again, like all incoming travellers to the UK, holidaymakers need to take a PCR test on their return.
Trips to Morocco, where average January highs are around 65F, have also been slashed by around 50 per cent by TUI.
There are also similar discounts on trips to the Canary Islands, such as Tenerife and Lanzarote, which are a popular choice for UK winter sunseekers.
Some trips to Cape Verde, a popular winter holiday destination where temperatures regularly reach up to 75F, have also been slashed by £300.
It comes as airlines have also slashed prices on flights in January.
Data from Google shows how flight prices to the Canary Islands are lower than average for next month.
Holiday firm TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator, is slashing prices, including to Mexico (pictured: Mexico’s Rio Grande) to tempt Britons to book a winter getaway
Trips to Morocco (pictured: Morocco’s Ait Benhaddou), where average January highs are around 65F, have also been slashed by around 50 per cent by TUI
There are also similar discounts on trips to the Canary Islands, such as Tenerife and Lanzarote (pictured), which are a popular choice for UK winter sunseekers.
How flight prices have changed in the last three weeks
These are the average flight prices and how they have changed according to data from Google. All data, which is based on flights from Sunday, January 9 to Sunday, January 16 is correct at the time of publication:
London to Fuerteventura
Average flight price 21 days ago: £68
Average flight price today: £40
London to Tenerife
Average flight price 21 days ago: £30
Average flight price today: £20
Manchester to Gran Caneria
Average flight price 21 days ago: £105
Average flight price today: £77
Manchester to Faro (Portugal)
Average flight price 21 days ago: £51
Average flight price today: £33
Birmingham to Benidorm
Average flight price 21 days ago: £59
Average flight price today: £40
A round trip from London to Tenerife next month is currently priced at £20, without luggage.
Meanwhile, a round trip to nearby Fuerteventura from London on the same dates is currently £40, again without luggage.
A Jet2 round trip to Gran Canaria, another of the Canary islands, this time with luggage, is currently priced at £77.
Flight prices from Manchester to popular winter holiday destinations are also on the decline.
Seats from Manchester to Gran Caneria in the second weekend of January cost an average of £105 three weeks ago, but cost £77 now, according to Google.
Similarly, Manchester to Faro has also dropped in price from £51 to £33 over the past 21 days.
And flights from Birmingham to Benidorm have also dropped in price, from £59 to £40.
Flights to other popular winter destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean are currently priced at average to slightly above average, according to data from Google.
It comes as ministers were last night accused of ‘playing with people’s Christmases’ over plans to axe the travel ‘red list’ hotel quarantine scheme.
Furious tourism chiefs pointed out that thousands of travellers cancelled trips to see loved ones abroad after the ‘No-Go’ list was revived little more than two weeks ago.
South Africa and ten other countries in Africa were added to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
But the variant is already spreading in the UK and across the globe.
Anybody arriving in the UK from countries on the red list were required to quarantine in hotels for 11 nights at a cost of £2,285.
But transport secretary Grant Shapps is said to have convinced colleagues that, for fully vaccinated Britons, it should be replaced with testing while quarantining at home instead.
Sajid Javid today announced that all 11 countries on the coronavirus travel red list will be removed from 4am on Wednesday.
A round trip from London to Tenerife next month is currently priced at £20, without luggage, while a round trip to nearby Fuerteventura from London on the same dates is currently £40, again without luggage
A Jet2 round trip to Gran Canaria, another of the Canary islands, this time with luggage, is currently priced at £77
Flight prices from Manchester to popular winter holiday destinations are also on the decline. Seats from Manchester to Gran Caneria in the second weekend of January cost an average of £105 three weeks ago, but cost £77 now, according to Google
What are the test rules for UK arrivals?
New restrictions introduced at 4am on November 30 require fully-vaccinated people entering the UK to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a PCR test taken on the second day after they arrive.
From 4am today all people aged 12 years and over must also take a PCR or LFD Covid-19 test before they travel to England from abroad.
The tests must be bought from the private sector, typically costing around £55.
Previously, double-jabbed travellers were only required to take a cheaper lateral flow test, and did not need to self-isolate unless they received a positive result.
People who are unvaccinated will continue to need one pre-departure test and two post-arrival PCR tests, and must quarantine for 10 days.
Ten African countries have been added to the UK’s red list since November 26.
Arrivals from those locations must stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.
Data suggests that with Omicron spreading rapidly worldwide, draconian travel restrictions will have a limited impact on countries’ infection rates.
Fully vaccinated foreigners may still be forced to quarantine in hotels upon landing in England.
A meeting of the so-called ‘Covid O’ committee of cabinet ministers will take place this week, with an announcement potentially as soon as today.
Paul Charles, chief of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘The government has to create a long-term strategy for when new variants emerge.
‘They can’t keep switching the industry on and off because it damages the sector every time.
‘The government is responsible for cancelling and playing with people’s Christmases when it comes to foreign travel. Lots of people have had to cancel trips over Christmas. They can’t continue to behave in this way.’
Since Omicron emerged, pre-return tests have also been re-introduced for the fully vaccinated while post-arrival swabs, to be taken by day two, must be more costly PCR tests rather than rapid lateral flow devices.
The travel industry has blasted the moves, saying it will kill off travel over the key Christmas period.
Airline CEOs were last night meeting with Treasury officials to protest against the measures, which are among the most draconian in Europe.
The changes mean the ‘red list’ is a policy likely to remain in place in case needed in future, but the eleven African countries currently on it will be removed.
The revival of the system has been plagued with issues, including travellers being unable to book hotel rooms because not enough have been acquired by ministers and reports of ‘grim’ food while quarantining.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) is said to have convinced colleagues that, for fully vaccinated Britons, the ‘red list’ should be replaced with testing while quarantining at home instead
Paul Charles, chief of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘The government has to create a long-term strategy for when new variants emerge. ‘They can’t keep switching the industry on and off because it damages the sector every time’
The travel industry has blasted the moves, saying it will kill off travel over the key Christmas period
The top deals on Jet2’s website
All of the details are correct at the time of publication.
Paphos, 4 star Leonardo Plaza Cypria Maris Beach Hotel & Spa, 7 nights bed & breakfast departing from Birmingham on 16th February.
Price: £519 per person based on 2 sharing, includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
Costa Del Sol
Benalmadena, 4 star Sentido Benalmadena Beach, 7 nights room-only departing from East Midlands on 11th March.
Price: £429 per person based on 2 sharing, includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
Fuste Costa Caleta – Caleta de Fuste, 3 star Caybeach Caleta, 7 nights self-catering departing from Edinburgh on 2nd February.
Price: £369 per person based on 2 sharing, includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
Albufeira, 4 star Santa Eulalia Hotel and Spa, 7 nights self-catering departing from London Stansted on 18th February.
Price: £299 per person based on 2 sharing, includes a 22kg baggage allowance.
Funchal, 4 star Girassol Suite Hotel, 7 nights bed & breakfast departing from Newcastle on 7th February.
Price: £449 per person based on 2 sharing, includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
It comes as TUI earlier this month revealed a slump in demand for winter bookings due to fears over the Omicron variant as it reported an annual loss of more than £2billion after Covid travel curbs hit the tourism industry.
The travel firm said it was reviewing whether to cut the remainder of its winter schedule in light of the spread of the new strain and a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Chief executive Fritz Joussen said the majority of customers contacting the group are choosing to reschedule to later in 2022 rather than cancelling holidays, although he stressed that affected bookings remain a very small proportion overall.
The group said it is close to breaking even in the final three months of its financial year, to September 30, with a quarterly underlying loss of £82.7million (€97million).
The comments came as TUI revealed worse-than-expected annual group losses of £2.1billion (€2.47 billion) for the year to September 30, although this narrowed from losses of £2.7billion (€3.15billion) in 2019-20.
The company is still expecting next summer’s bookings to rebound close to levels seen before the pandemic, with the first quarter of the new financial almost fully sold – at 93 per cent – and running at 69 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, easyJet said last week that it has also seen signs of demand softening in its current quarter due to the emergence of the new Covid strain, with winter bookings starting to weaken and some travellers changing trips to next year.
TUI hopes summer 2022 will see a bounce-back close to 2019 bookings, but stressed customers are continuing to book later and at short notice.
The group’s chief executive, Fritz Joussen, said: ‘TUI’s operating business is back and has recovered significantly in the last financial quarter of 2021.’
But he added: ‘There will be flexibility in deciding whether to offer winter programme capacity at the lower end of the range depending on the so-called fourth corona wave and possible policy decisions with regard to the Omicron variant.
‘Capacity plans are regularly reviewed and adjusted.’
The group is currently planning for winter programmes at between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Will 12-year-olds need jabs to go on holiday? Javid says Covid travel passes are being extended to under-16s
Sajid Javid has announced 12 to 15-year-olds will be able to access the NHS Covid Pass to prove their vaccination status for international travel.
The Health Secretary said that the pass will be available to children between those ages from today.
Mr Javid said this will allow ‘even more people to be able to prove their vaccine status where it is needed’.
Tory former health minister Steve Brine said it was ‘such a welcome announcement’ because it would make some international travel smoother for families.
But the announcement is likely to spark concerns that showing the pass could eventually be extended to make it a requirement for children when they leave and re-enter the country.
Sajid Javid today announced 12 to 15-year-olds will be able to access the NHS Covid Pass to prove their vaccination status for international travel
The Health Secretary said that the pass will be available to children between those ages from today
Mr Javid told the House of Commons this afternoon: ‘From today I can confirm that the NHS Covid Pass is being rolled out to 12 to 15 year-olds for international travel, allowing even more people to be able to prove their vaccine status where it is needed.’
Mr Brine asked Mr Javid: ‘Can I ask him about the NHS Covid Pass being rolled out to 12 to 15-year-olds which is such a welcome announcement and something that the Secretary of State promised this House that he would bring back and I thank him for that.
‘How exactly will that work? Many of my constituents will be travelling within the next few days, certainly within the next week over Christmas.
‘How exactly will they be able to access this pass given that they cannot access the NHS app the same way as adults can?’
Mr Javid replied: ‘He is right that around the Covid Pass it is a very important issue.
‘We will be publishing shortly on the website exactly how that will work but it is being rolled out as a digital pass in the same way it is working for adults starting today.’
All children in the UK who are aged between 12 and 15 have been offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
The announcement came as Mr Javid said there are now 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK.
He told MPs: ‘And the UK Health Security Agency estimates that the current rate of, the current number of daily infections are around 200,000.
‘While Omicron represents over 20 per cent of cases in England, we’ve already seen it rise to over 44 per cent in London and we expect it to become the dominant Covid 19 variant in the capital in the next 48 hours.’