Impatient vacationers who have been on the ground too long have sparked a massive boom in travel enquiries.
Industry leaders Barrhead Travel are reporting a massive 165% increase in queries for the year ahead, but cautious aviation chiefs have warned they will need years to recover properly.
The relaxation of strict coronavirus testing rules last week, which resulted in the scrapping of expensive PCRs and the end of the isolation protocol, is believed to be behind the boom.
And the East Renfrewshire-based company says it’s a sign that “confidence is returning to the market”.
The Scottish Government announced last week that from Friday January 7, fully vaccinated travelers arriving here will no longer be required to take pre-departure covid tests or self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative result.
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Instead, from last Sunday, a negative lateral flow test on the second day after arrival replaced the need for expensive PCR confirmation.
The UK-wide measures were implemented following an agreement with the Welsh, Downing Street and Northern Ireland governments.
And now Barrhead Travel bosses have revealed the move has sparked a massive uptick in customer enquiries, as well as growing demand for travel before the end of March, as impatient travelers desperately seek travel to sunnier climes and grounded Scots seek to reunite with loved ones. those abroad after a delay benefit from the relaxation of the rules.
Jacqueline Dobson, President of Barrhead Travel, said: “Travel is set to make a significant comeback in 2022 with restrictions continuing to ease across the world. People have missed out on travel a lot in recent years – whether for holidays, business or to find loved ones.
“January is traditionally the most popular time of year to book holidays and we are already seeing much more confidence in the market than at this time last year. Omicron caused some uncertainty in December, but the Eased testing will go a long way to kick-start the travel recovery Our customers tell us they can’t wait for their holidays this year.
“One of the biggest hurdles was testing costs and we’re already seeing a difference in how relaxation builds confidence.”
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She added that with one in five new bookings soaring before the end of March, they hope the figure will continue to accelerate over the next few weeks, saying: “‘Before Omicron, bookings for Last-minute vacations were on the rise – this trend naturally slowed in December due to increased uncertainty and restrictions. Now we expect to see higher demand for late departures.
“Summer 2022 is also selling very well as families seek deals while pricing and value-added offers are still available for school holiday dates. Availability for 2022 is expected to decrease faster than usual Due to the demand and volume of rescheduled bookings, we recommend anyone hoping to travel in the spring or summer this year to book as soon as possible.”
The itinerary’s top destinations for travel in 2022 include Tenerife – which grew in popularity by 222% – New York, which saw a boom of 116% and the ever-popular Orlando – up 64%.
The agency said travel “experiences” and so-called “bucket list” destinations such as Lapland and Japan are also “significantly” up.
The average length of vacation stay has also doubled from seven to 14 days as travelers throw everything behind a long-awaited vacation.
Industry body the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) also reports that 61% of people plan to go on holiday abroad this year and almost half plan to spend more.
But AGS Airports, owner of famed Glasgow airport, warned that while signs of improvement are there, they expect a long recovery will be needed.
They warned that it will take at least 2025 for the sector to rebound.
An AGS spokesperson told the Express: “From conversations we’ve had with our airline partners, they are seeing an increase in demand for forward bookings in light of the recent removal of restrictions and it is encouraging to see that Barrhead Travel sees this as well..
“It is important to stress that these are forward bookings for the summer and beyond. There is no immediate increase in passenger numbers at the airport. While this is encouraging, it will take years for our airports and the whole industry to return to pre-covid levels – most likely 2025/2026 and beyond.”
Prior to the pandemic, Glasgow Airport was Scotland’s main long-haul airport, home to 30 airlines serving more than 120 destinations around the world, including Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Europe and the Gulf.
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