Murcia is one of Spain’s major tourist regions benefiting from renewed summer travel optimism following the UK announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown. British prime minister Boris Johnson reported that, on 12 April, a travel task-force would unveil plans to lift the ban on non-essential foreign travel, thus enabling people to “plan for summer”, although the earliest date for lifting restrictions will be 17 May.
This led to several leading companies that operate at Corvera Airport Murcia – including TUI, EasyJet and Jet2.com – reporting a surge in bookings for such popular destinations as Murcia and the region’s Costa Cálida seaside resorts.
Responding to Johnson’s statement, ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said, “This sets an ambition to get people travelling before the summer – which will not only be crucial for travel businesses whose revenues have been wiped out, but also for the millions of people who are desperate to travel again, whether to see friends and relatives based overseas or for a much-needed holiday.
“We are pleased to see the government has responded to our calls to engage with industry on a specific roadmap for travel, and we welcome that the global travel taskforce will reconvene to work with ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) and the wider travel industry on a plan for re-opening travel.”
By then, the Spanish government is also expected to have eased its air and sea restrictions for travellers from the UK – currently in force until 16 March.
In an official statement commenting on the roadplan, TUI UK and Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham said there was huge demand to travel, with Spain among the countries leading the way with bookings up 500 per cent overnight.
“The announcement… shows that by working with the travel industry on a risk-based framework our customers will have the opportunity to travel abroad this summer. We will continue to work closely with the government so people can look forward to a well-deserved break away, after what has been a very difficult year for many.
“In line with the UK government’s latest lockdown announcement, all TUI holidays from England will not operate before 17 May. We will be contacting impacted customers directly, in departure date order, to discuss their options, which will include amending to a later date with an incentive or cancelling and receiving a full refund.
“We know our customers are looking forward to their holidays, so to offer continued flexibility and reassurance we have extended our free changes policy to the end of June. Those due to travel between 17 May and the end of June can change their booking to a later date fee-free.”
EasyJet also reported a surge in UK bookings within hours of Johnson’s announcement. Flight bookings for the summer season increased by 337 per cent and EasyJet Holidays bookings rose 630 per cent week on week. Beach resorts such as Costa Cálida were among the top destinations for summer travel in August, followed by July and September.
“We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel,” said EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, “and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to re-open travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.
“Our ‘Protection Promise’ means that customers can book with confidence knowing that, if they are unable to travel or their plans change, so can their flights or holiday. We’ve put more flights and holidays on sale this summer to even more destinations, so that customers have more choice to book something to look forward to.
“And, while the summer may be a little while off, we will be working around the clock to ensure we will be ready to ramp up our flights to reconnect friends and family or take them on a long-awaited holiday to remember.”
Meanwhile, data reported by Jet2.com and Jet2holidays showed that summer 2021 bookings increased more than 1,000 per cent in the 24 hours following the announcement, with bookings continuing to surge for destinations across the board including mainland Spain.
“We have seen enormous pent-up demand from British holidaymakers for some time,” said CEO Steve Heapy, “with people wanting nothing more than to get away to the sunshine and enjoy their well-deserved holidays. The government’s announcement is the news they have been longing for, and the continued surge in bookings shows how ready our customers are to get away to the sunshine on a real package holiday.
“We are very pleased that the government has shown a clear ambition to re-open international travel in the coming months, and we look forward to more detail in due course. Throughout the pandemic, we have done absolutely everything to look after our valued customers and we have always said that the sun will shine for them once again. We know what an incredibly difficult time it has been for everyone, and we very much look forward to taking everyone from our rainy islands to their dream holiday choice this summer and beyond.”