After a change in foreign travel rules created a booking frenzy, thousands of Britons are anticipated to return to Turkey, one of their favorite holiday destinations.
Britain simplified rules on Friday for international travel in a boost to the tourism industry, including scrapping the need for fully vaccinated passengers to take expensive COVID-19 tests on arrival from low-risk countries.
Under the new proposals, destinations will simply be ranked low or high risk, instead of red, amber and green. Eight countries, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives, will be removed from the high-risk red band.
The decision means fully vaccinated people returning from Turkey will not be required to quarantine in a hotel. The changes will come into effect from Wednesday.
The news has already sparked a big surge in holiday bookings to the relief of holidaymakers and travel firms.
Holiday company TUI said it has witnessed an “uptick” in bookings for Turkey, which has spent all summer in the red travel category.
The nation was added to the high-risk category in May and has been mainly off-limits to U.K. travelers since then, stalling the nation’s vibrant tourism industry and the holiday plans of millions of potential visitors.
Turkey was the most popular destination on the red list, having attracted around 2.3 million British holidaymakers a year before the pandemic.
Managing director of TUI UK Andrew Flintham said the changes were a “positive step forward” and would provide “much-needed reassurance” to those looking to book trips.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said they had seen demand step up over the last few days, and “there has been an immediate and massive surge in bookings for flights and package holidays on the back of this welcome news for holidaymakers in England.”
Heapy said bookings had spiked “by more than 250%,” stressing Turkey was proving “exceptionally popular.”
He noted they would be restarting flights to Antalya and Dalaman from Sept. 23, including from Birmingham Airport.
Skyscanner said it saw a 133% spike in traffic in the 30 minutes following the announcement, according to the Daily Mail, while there had been “huge increases” in searches for destinations such as Turkey and the Maldives in anticipation of Friday’s news.
Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB) said it expects at least 200,000 Britons to arrive in the coming three-month period.
“We were hoping that this decision would have been made much earlier. A large number of our guests from the U.K., who miss Turkey and want to have a vacation in our country, were also waiting for this decision,” the association said in a statement.