Travel News

Keep calm and check your passport dates

Keep calm and check your passport dates

Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a key travel issue – and what it means for you.

Demand for foreign holidays bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. That is according to a survey by the travel association, Abta. The news was released to coincide with the first anniversary of the lifting of the last of the tangle of extremely complex and fast-changing Covid travel restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic. You will recall that they ranged from mandatory PCR Covid tests and complicated form-filling for everyone coming back to the UK, to the notorious “traffic light” rules that could trigger hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,000.

At 4am on 18 March 2022, the remaining Covid travel restrictions were scrapped. The rules that we were all expected faithfully to follow until that moment were officially deemed pointless. The then transport secretary, Grant Shapps, had spent much of the previous two years imposing a boggling array of ill-thought-out travel restrictions that included the unprecedented suppression of the freedom to travel for 19 weeks in 2022 and the ludicrous “amber-plus” categorisation of France in the summer of 2021, which ruined countless holidays for no purpose at all. (Covid restrictions have since been reimposed for people arriving from mainland China but are due to be lifted early in April.)

The removal of rules on testing and vaccination led to a surge of bookings – whereupon parts of the travel industry unravelled under the strain, with airports, airlines and indeed the Passport Office unable to cope with the demand. Even so, says Abta, 62 per cent of British people have been on a foreign holiday since the lifting of the UK’s Covid travel restrictions. A higher proportion are planning to go on holiday abroad in the next 12 months, and Abta says holidays are the “non-essential” purchase people want to prioritise this year.

But the results came a day after the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union announced a five-week strike by HM Passport Office workers – predicting the walkout will have a “significant impact” on the delivery of passports as the summer approaches. More than 1,000 members of the PCS are set to walk out at all seven offices in England, Wales and…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…