On the Beach suspends sales of summer holidays amid travel uncertainty

A UK holiday firm has temporarily stopped selling trips abroad for the summer in response to the Government’s “traffic light” system for quarantine-free travel.

On the Beach’s chief executive Simon Cooper said the system provides no clarity beyond a three-week window about which destinations people can travel to without isolating.

He said on Wednesday that his firm had “no interest in selling holidays that are unlikely to happen” and would suspend sales for trips in June, July and August.

Passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport
Passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport (Aaron Chown/PA)

Under the so-called traffic light system, which has been adopted by England and Scotland, countries are divided into three categories – green, amber and red.

Travellers who visit a country on the green list when international travel resumes from May 17 will not have to quarantine upon their return.

But the Government will review its list every three weeks, with countries potentially added or removed partly based on their Covid-19 case rates and the success of their vaccine rollout.

Mr Cooper said: “We don’t know enough yet about how the traffic light system will work in practice, and it doesn’t currently give any certainty or clarity beyond a three-week window.

“In the coming weeks and months – until vaccination programmes across Europe and beyond are further along in their rollout – it is very likely that we will see regular fluctuations in destinations’ traffic light classifications, and so there is likelihood of disruption or even cancellations for the many customers who want to book more than three weeks in advance.”

Mr Cooper said the temporary suspension of sales will be reviewed in line with the next Government announcement.

He added: “Unlike many of our competitors, we have no interest in selling holidays that are unlikely to happen, as our business model enables us to put customers first, rather than needing to get cash in the door to contribute to high fixed costs, and offering refunds in the form of a voucher when holidays get cancelled.

“This is a temporary measure that we will review in line with the next Government announcement.

“In the meantime, we will focus our efforts on helping and advising our customers who already have bookings of their options to either still go on their holiday, amend their holiday or, where the holiday is cancelled, refunding them in cash within 14 days.”

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Meanwhile, just one in nine people in the UK is confident of going abroad on holiday this summer, according to a YouGov poll.

A survey of 4,247 adults in Britain, carried out on May 12, also found 71% of respondents have not booked any summer holiday yet while 20% have made plans for a UK vacation.

Despite being among the first groups to be vaccinated, only 9% of the over-65s said they believed they would go abroad in 2021, but 17% of Britons aged 18 to 24 were confident they would get away.