Tui announces date for restarting holidays

Tui is to resume its holiday programme within three weeks, expressing “absolute confidence” that the Government will have relaxed travel restrictions by then.

The UK’s biggest tour operator announced it will serve eight destinations across Spain and Greece from July 11.

Holidays will be available to the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu, as well as Tenerife and Lanzarote, two of Spain’s Canary Islands, and Majorca and Ibiza in the Balearics.

Richard Sofer, Tui’s commercial director, acknowledged the plan is dependent on the Government altering its position on travel advice and the two-week quarantine for international arrivals.

He said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) would need to stop advising against all non-essential oversea travel, and “air bridges” would need to be created enabling people to travel between the UK and certain countries without needing to go into self-isolation for 14 days at either end.

Mr Sofer told the PA news agency: “Due to the size of our organisation we’ve been able to have a presence in each of those Government conversations through our aviation team or through the senior members of the UK business.

“We’re well-informed of where those discussions are.

“Obviously many of those conversations are confidential but that gives us great confidence to open up a small programme to a couple of really key countries, eight key gateways for us.

“We have absolute confidence that we’re going to be getting a positive result from the Government in time for July.”

Tui has not set a date for resuming long-haul trips.

Rival travel firm Jet2holidays plans to resume its holiday programme on July 15, but it has been forced to extend the suspension of its operations several times during the pandemic.

Tui has already resumed taking customers from Germany on holiday, with trips to Portugal’s Algarve operating this week.

Mr Sofer described the FCO’s stance on travel advice as “slightly unhelpful from a planning point of view”.

He went on: “Our European colleagues have benefited where they’ve had clear lines in the sand and dates to be working to.

“The UK position is effectively just under review, so it’s uncertain.”

Mr Sofer said customers will experience “slight changes” if they go on a Tui holiday this summer, such as social distancing requirements in resorts, but he insisted they will “still have a brilliant experience”.

He went on: “When customers are in their hotels, on the beach, using the vast majority of the attractions and facilities in destinations, they’re going to be able to enjoy those destinations and experiences as they would under normal circumstances.

“We’re not expecting hotels to be as full as they would have been pre-Covid-19.

“That will be helpful for creating extra spaces and allowing social distancing to be fulfilled without too much intervention and disruption to people’s holidays.”

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