‘Science has delivered the means by which we can halt this cycle of pain and frustration,’ says Brittany Ferries CEO
Leading travel figures have welcomed the end of the French travel ban on British visitors. The frontiers will open some time on Friday 14 January, almost four weeks after British visitors were prohibited because of concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant.
Julia Simpson, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said: “WTTC welcomes the reopening of French borders to UK travellers. Once a variant is endemic closing borders is pointless and only damages livelihoods, especially in travel and tourism, one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic.”
Christophe Mathieu, chief executive of Brittany Ferries, said: “This news comes as a great relief and I can only hope that we have seen the last border closure of this Covid crisis.
“We’ve all suffered enormously over the last two years, from overwhelmed health care professionals to businesses like ours in the travel sector.
“Thousands of our passengers have been disrupted and hundreds of millions of pounds in income has been lost to draconian measures like border closures.
“Science has delivered the means by which we can halt this cycle of pain and frustration. It’s up to all of us to embrace it.”
While ferries have continued to sail – carrying trucks and passengers with “compelling reasons” to travel – they have been hard hit by the travel ban.
“France is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits and traditionally January is a critical month for travel operators as people start to book summer holidays.
“While the ferry industry has continued to operate essential services across the Channel while the border remained closed, we’re confident that its reopening will provide a much-needed uplift in bookings, particularly as it coincides with the relaxation of UK testing requirements, which makes travelling easier, cheaper and will boost consumer confidence.”
Chris Parker of DFDS, which sails from Dover to Calais and Dunkerque as well as Newhaven to Dieppe, said: “As passenger demand returns, DFDS is calling for a review of the travel documents that passengers have to provide at check-in.
“It will not be possible or practical for operators to undertake the current level of checks with increasing numbers of passengers. Without change this will create delays and queues at the UK’s borders.
“The next governmental review is due at the end of January and we hope to see a significant reduction in the requirements at that time”.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2, said ski flights to the French Alps will resume on 22 January – a week after the ban ends.
“This is the positive news that skiers and snowboarders have been looking forward to, and the spike in bookings for ski flights has been both sharp and immediate,” he said.
The UK accounts for one in seven visitors to France.