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COVID-19 passport enters trials, buoying summer travel hopes

  • Jet2 expects a massive wave of UK tourists to arrive in the EU this summer
  • Some holiday destinations have already opened up to UK holidaymakers
  • British Airways trialling COVID-19 passports ahead of a return to international travel
  • Pound Sterling (GBP) slides against the euro (EUR), US dollar (USD) and other major currencies

According to the Deckchair Index, UK holidaymakers can expect to travel to 43% of their favourite holiday destinations in 2021 once UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifts lockdown restrictions.

Furthermore, 33% of these countries plan to implement travel corridors with the UK, meaning that fully vaccinated passengers travelling on these routes will not be required to self-isolate upon arrival.

The latest news comes as official figures show that approximately 24% of UK holidaymakers have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Some holiday destinations have already opened their borders to UK tourists and are gearing up for an influx of arrivals come May 17th when the UK government is set to allow international travel once again.

Several airlines have already responded to recent developments and updated their flight policies. Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has extended its free flight change policy for all customers that make a booking before June 30th in a bid to encourage summer travel.

Jet2 has also instructed several Mediterranean hoteliers to prepare for a “massive arrival” of UK tourists in the summer following a notable uptick in bookings.

Jet2

Jet2 expects Spain to see a “massive arrival” of UK tourists this summer

Jet2 anticipates a massive surge in international travel demand this summer and has urged Mediterranean hotels to prepare for an influx of UK tourists from June 2nd – several days later than the UK government’s May 17th target date.

A representative from the low-cost British airline told the Telegraph that it is their duty “as a responsible partner to inform hoteliers about the spike in demand we have seen for holiday destinations on our flight routes.”

Jet2 has witnessed a notable surge in holiday bookings to Majorca. To meet rapidly growing demand, the airline has added more than 50,000 new seats to some of the EU’s most popular destinations, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.

The move comes as the UK government confirms that it will remove Portugal from its “red list” on Friday, meaning travellers arriving from “Lusitania” will no longer have to quarantine in government-designated hotels upon their return.

Mauritius is also being removed from the “red list” as government officials said, “evidence shows that the risk of importing a variant of concern from the country has significantly reduced”.

However, Qatar, Ethiopia, Somalia and Oman are being added to the UK government’s red list, which will likely impact business travellers as some of these destinations are heavily linked to humanitarian work.

Several airlines, including TUi Managing Director Andrew Flintham, have urged the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to provide clear guidance and advice on travel and regulations before operations resume on May 17th.

Airline chief executive calls for coordination between FCDO advice and travel corridors

TUi Managing Director Andrew Flintham has said that the UK government needs to “coordinate FCDO advice and travel corridors” to ensure a productive and safe return to the skies this summer.

The Anglo-German travel and tourism company is also calling for the UK government to deliver more optimistic messages concerning summer travel, COVID vaccination passports and streamline the testing process.

It comes as IAG owned, British Airways announces that the airline is trialling an in-house online system that will allow passengers to store COVID-19 passports and testing certificates in a mobile app.

The system is expected to facilitate travel by speeding up the verification of COVID-19 documents, which some countries will require passengers to provide on arrival.

British Airways has not yet confirmed when it will introduce the COVID-19 passport, but the trialling system is taking place on flights between London and India. The flag carrier airline is expected to add more holiday destinations to the system in the coming weeks.

The IAG owned airline is already allowing travellers flying between the US, Canada and the UK to verify their coronavirus documents via a third-party app called VeriFLY. British Airways is expected to trial another vaccination passport app developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) alongside its own digital health pass.

The EU is also developing a vaccination passport dubbed the Digital Green Certificate, which will allow vaccinated passengers to travel freely across the bloc.

If the proposal is approved, the vaccination passport will be made available in June. The app will also be free of charge for all EU citizens – a preventative measure introduced to reduce fraud risk.

According to the European Commission, the Digital Green Certificate will also prevent discrimination against people who are yet to be vaccinated by storing testing results, meaning travellers who have tested negative will also be permitted to fly.

The European Commission is expected to present its proposal for COVID vaccine passports on Wednesday, which will be adopted by all EU member states if approved.

Despite positive news on UK travel prospects, pound Sterling (GBP) remains muted against a host of major currency trading rivals.

Pound Sterling lower against all major trading rivals

The British pound’s (GBP) rally appears to have lost steam. Any upside potential also seems unlikely until Thursday, when the Bank of England’s (BoE) policy decision occurs.

While pound Sterling (GBP) continues to be supported by the UK’s rapid vaccine rollout, foreign exchange (FX) markets have also been digesting shifts in risk appetite and unresolved Brexit tensions with the EU.

A stronger US dollar (USD) is also spelling trouble for the British pound to US dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate, which is struggling to consolidate above the USD 1.39 level.

That said, the greenback’s strength is allowing pound Sterling (GBP) to hold steady against riskier currencies such as the Australian dollar (AUD), New Zealand dollar (NZD) and South African rand (ZAR).

The British pound to Australian dollar (GBP/AUD) exchange rate is trading flat at AUD 1.793, while the British pound to New Zealand dollar (GBP/NZD) cross has jumped 0.1% higher to NZD 1.932.

After staging a solid performance in the wake of positive South African gross domestic product (GDP) data, ZAR/GBP is also trading on the backfoot. The British pound to South African rand (GBP/ZAR) exchange rate is trading 0.2% higher at ZAR 20.6971.

However, rising oil prices and a strong recovery in Canada’s jobs market has caused the British pound to Canadian dollar (GBP/CAD) exchange rate to tumble. The GBP/CAD cross is currently trading 0.2% lower at CAD 1.7298.

That said, the currency pair could reverse its fortunes following the BoE meeting if policymakers comments reinforce optimism for the UK economy‘s recovery outlook.

The euro (EUR) could come under significant pressure against pound Sterling (GBP) if BoE policymaker’s upbeat about the UK’s economic outlook as Eurozone recovery has been tainted by the EU’s third COVID wave.

At the time of writing, the British pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate is trading 0.2% higher at EUR 1.1678, and several analysts have said a break above the EUR 1.17 level is likely over the coming days.

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