Don’t take any travel advice from me, says Shapps

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he is the “last person” people should take travel advice from.

The Cabinet minister made the comment when asked if it was wise for pensioners who have had a coronavirus vaccine to book summer holidays.

Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am the last person you should take travel advice on this from.

“I remember about this time last year, or a little bit later, being asked whether I would book a summer holiday.

“We then had the travel corridors and I did book, I went to Spain with my family.

“And, within an hour of getting there, I myself put Spain… took them out of the travel corridor, meaning that I needed to come home and start my quarantine, leaving my family there.

“So, don’t take any travel advice from me.”

Holiday firms have said a spike in bookings from older people is partly due to them being prioritised for coronavirus vaccinations.

Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, said half of bookings so far this year have been made by people aged over 50.

Managing director Andrew Flintham said demand from this age group “wasn’t coming through” previously.

He believes the change is “on the back of the positive vaccine news”.

National Express said its coach holiday business, which predominantly caters for pensioners, has seen bookings nearly triple for spring and summer trips compared with the same point last year.

Head of holidays and travel Jit Desai said: “Ninety-eight per cent of our customer base is over 65 and we’ve seen an increased appetite for travel in the last week or two, with an uplift in inquiries and bookings every time there’s been an announcement about new vaccine approvals and the rollout programme.

“Some of this is postponed travel carried over from last year.

“But there’s definitely a trend of customers being comfortable that they will have had their vaccination and be protected from spring onwards, so can start to make travel plans.

“Some are telling us that they’ve already had their jab and can’t wait to go on holiday once guidance allows again.”