Brits may have to skip the slopes this year, as holidays firms begin to re-route or cancel Christmas trips to the Alps amid fresh travel restrictions.
The uncertainty has bloomed as a result of a new Covid-19 variant known as Omicron, which has prompted Switzerland to force Brits entering the country to quarantine for 10 days, even if fully vaccinated.
It means travellers leaving from Britain will not be able to fly into Geneva airport – one of the busiest check points for skiers heading for the mountains straddling the Swiss and French border.
Though arrivals who are on route through Swiss airports without going landside will be exempt from the quarantine rules, according to updated Foreign Office advice.
“We have sourced alternative arrangements for customers going into Geneva,” Skiworld’s marketing director Diane Palumbo told City A.M., with routes being re-directed to French entry-points.
Under 100 customers have been affected at Skiworld alone so far, however, Palumbo suggested that other providers may be more affected.
The sentiment of most customers is the same, she added, which is that “testing is a small price to pay to carry on enjoying the benefits of travel”.
“We all got used to enhanced security checks after 9/11, but now they seem absolutely normal.”
She advised those looking for a last-minute ski trip this winter to do so through a package with booking protection – which means providers will be the ones with “sleepless nights” over sudden changes to plans, instead of travellers.
A spokesperson for package holiday firm Inghams also told City A.M. that ski holidays to Switzerland could even be cancelled over the new quarantine measures.
“If customers are required to quarantine on arrival in their holiday destination, we will cancel their holiday and they will be offered the option to move to another date or destination, or have a full refund,” she said.
Travel firms now patiently await more confirmation later today.
The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said that the latest changes have “shattered the fledgling confidence in air travel” for Christmas and new year bookings.
“We call again on government to act with the data and to support a vital UK industry. This includes government funding the expensive PCR tests and actually sequencing traveller’s tests so we can have an effective and data driven policy,” BALPA added.
“The aviation industry now needs a winter resilience fund to support us through an even more extended period of restrictions. Vital aviation industry skills, including those of pilots, will carry the ambitions of the whole country as we recover. Government must invest in the recovery now”.
The new rules come as scientists gather information on Omicron and whether or not it is resistant to current vaccines.
Britain has also expanded its red travel list to include South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.