The boss of Europe’s biggest holiday company has questioned the UK’s “green list” and warned that British travellers may miss out this summer.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has opened up quarantine-free travel to just four viable countries from Monday 17 May – with Portugal the only mainstream destination on the green list.
Speaking to reporters, Tui’s chief executive, Fritz Joussen, said: “Mallorca is on the same [infection] level as the UK, so what is the problem?
“Other countries are booking significantly better now and I’m hoping the UK will catch up.”
His warning echoed another last week from the easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, that the best accommodation in Europe could be booked by travellers from other countries.
The Tui CEO also warned that capacity for domestic holidays in the UK was too low to accommodate more than a fraction of the numbers who normally go abroad.
“If you don’t open the borders, there will be no holiday additional holidays at home, because things will be booked and blocked.”
He presented data than showed the Greek islands of Corfu, Kos and Rhodes with a Covid infection rate one-third of that in Portugal.
Tui is continuing to operate holidays to Spain and Greece later in May, even though they are on the “amber” list, with 10 days’ self-isolation required when travellers return home.
Mr Joussen said: “We are not in business to educate customers. We are in business to follow rules, to do safe holidays and to be customer-centric.
“If customers come to the conclusion that they want to book, they book.”
He confirmed that Tui is subsidising tests for package holiday customers, who pay £20 for the UK tests required from green list countries and £50 from amber list destinations.
Demand for holidays in Portugal is so high that Tui is putting wide-bodied jets on flights from the UK.
The company is replacing narrow-bodied Boeing 737 aircraft with 787 Dreamliners.
“We can’t get the slots in Portugal,” said Mr Joussen.
Like-for-like holiday selling prices are slightly lower than in 2019, he said.
“Average customers are paying more because they want more and they get more. They get better product, they get longer holidays.
“People are trading up, booking five-star instead of four star, and they are booking more packages.
“But the price per room night in the same hotel is lower than 2019.”
Tui’s chief executive said the normal holiday season could extend well into the autumn.
“Extending the season, I think, is a viable option, because we see huge pent-up demand for the end of the season.”
“They just want to get away.”
Jet2, Tui’s biggest rival in the UK, is selling holidays in the Greek islands well into November.
Mr Joussen also predicted that summer 2022 bookings for Tui will be exceed 2019 levels.
“I think there’s a good probability that summer ’22 will be better than ’19.”
Tui’s pan-European rival, Thomas Cook, collapsed in September 2019, and Tui expects to pick up some of the market share.
As well as Portugal, UK travellers may visit Israel, Iceland and Gibraltar without needing to quarantine on return.
Eight other countries are on the green list, but half of them will not accept British visitors and the other half are hard-to-reach Atlantic islands.
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