Monday 15 February 2021 2:02 pm

Travel businesses urge customers to book summer holidays despite guidance

A coalition of the UK’s largest travel companies has come together to give consumers the confidence to book summer holidays despite oscillating advice from ministers.

The group, which commands combined revenues of over £11bn, has offered any customer who books with them a guaranteed refund or change of holiday date if the trip has to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

In addition, the Save Our Summer (SOS) campaign called on the government to lay out a plan for reopening the industry from the beginning of May.

It said that all vulnerable groups of people should have been vaccinated by then, making it safe to reopen travel in a responsible way.

Last week transport secretary Grant Shapps urged people not to book summer holidays yet, saying it was “too early” to do so.

The new campaign comes after the Office of National Statistics revealed the full impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector.

Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency and co-ordinator of the campaign, said: “Give us all a break Boris. The industry is united in outrage. Senior government ministers have done a good job of torpedoing recovery in the travel sector and threatening jobs across travel and tourism.

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“UK citizens should ignore their conflicting advice and book summer trips with confidence, knowing that they can get a refund or refix their travel dates if booking through a reputable travel provider signed up to SOS.”

More than 200 companies have so far signed up to take part in the initiative, including household names such as Trailfinders, easyJet Holidays, Travelopia.

The group warned that without a clear target date for the reopening of travel, up to 2.4m jobs in the UK could be lost.

ONS figures showed that the number of people employed in the sector fell 10 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020 alone.

Travel and tourism companies contributed 6.7 per cent to the UK’s GDP back in 2018.