By Lisa James, Co-Editor, Travel Gossip
It’s been another eventful year in the travel industry and, as the world looks forward to 2023, Travel Gossip has been looking back at some of the key moments of 2022 that we’ve reported on so far.
Travel companies claim an instant uplift in bookings when the-then Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces changes to travel testing, leading Jet2 CEO Steve Heapy to proclaim: “Holidays are back on.”
The Prime Minister had earlier told the Commons that pre-departure testing for people travelling to England would be scrapped and Day 2 PCR testing would be replaced by lateral flows.
The move was welcomed by WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson, who said it would “significantly boost the UK travel and tourism sector.”
But the PM warned: “Anyone who thinks the COVID battle is over is profoundly wrong.”
More testing relaxation, with the-then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps telling the Commons: “From 4am on February 11, and in time for the half-term break, eligible fully vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK will no longer have to take a post-arrival lateral flow test.”
Across the world, borders start to open, with Morocco overturning the ban on international flights it introduced the previous November and Tourism Australia announcing a new campaign and tactical offers to ‘welcome leisure travellers back’ after announcing borders will reopen.
The Dominican Republic becomes the first Latin American destination to remove all domestic COVID measures, while the Netherlands, Canada, Finland and Tunisia relax rules and India lifts its ban on international flights.
All eyes are on Ukraine, with the UK Foreign Office telling Brits in the country to leave immediately, later warning Brits not to travel to Russia because of ‘the lack of available flight options to return to the UK and the increased volatility in the Russian economy’.
Cruise lines start looking at alternatives to the popular St Petersburg port of call and the UK and EU ban Russian flights.
Wizz Air offers 100,000 free seats to Ukrainian refugees leaving border countries, with CEO Jozsef Varadi saying: “Our hearts are with the Ukrainian people during this crisis.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removes the COVID travel health notice for cruise ships after two years.
The UK Foreign Office warns of the risk of further curfews in Sri Lanka after demonstrators take to the street of the capital Colombo at the weekend to protest over severe food and fuel shortages.
The previous month, specialists had urged Brits to keep booking, with Experience Travel Group Managing Director Sam Clark saying: “People need to keep going there – 100%. Tourism has such a positive impact.”
TUI Group announces plans to recruit 1,500 people across Europe, including 1,000 resort roles in holiday destinations.
It’s revealed the UK’s hotel quarantine scheme lost an eye-watering £400m. The £757m scheme, launched in April 2021, was supposed to break even, but the UK Government only managed to recover less than half the total cost.
IATA Director General Willie Walsh says long delays at airports risk putting people off travelling and must be put right urgently.
The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka after a state of emergency is declared and an island-wide curfew imposed.
It’s revealed that women in executive roles are earning more than men for the first time in at least seven years, according to recruitment agency C&M.
Ministers blame the travel industry for delays and cancellations over the half-term holiday. The (still) Transport Secretary Grant Shapps accuses airlines and operators of selling more holidays than they can fulfil, while the-then Deputy PM Dominic Raab tells Sky News: “There has clearly been a lack of preparation for that surge back of demand of holidaymakers.”
This prompts ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer to push back, saying the industry has struggled with “minimal levels of financial support”.
The Department for Transport and the CAA tell airlines to plan for cancellations now, rather than leave them to the last minute – and to be clearer in telling customers what their rights are.
Travel starts to get easier, with Thailand saying it will axe its Thailand Pass registration scheme and mandatory US$10,000 health insurance requirement for foreign visitors and Egypt dropping all COVID-related entry rules.
Mauritius relaxes all COVID requirements, while Australia also eases entry rules and scraps its digital passenger declaration (DPD) app, which has been criticised for being difficult to use.
A volcano close to Iceland’s capital Reykjavik erupts, prompting the airline PLAY to say: “Keflavik International Airport is open and incoming flights are about to get a truly spectacular view!”
Malaysia ditches all COVID entry requirements, while airlines are given the go-ahead to resume direct flights between the UK and China.
American Airlines places an order for up to 20 aircraft from Boom Supersonic, with plans to bring back supersonic transatlantic flights before the end of the decade.
The UK Foreign Office lifts its ban on non-essential travel to Sri Lanka.
Demand for long-stay winter sun holidays grows as Brits look to avoid high fuel bills at home.
New Zealand ends its traffic light system and removes testing and vaccination requirements, while Japan, Hong Kong and Barbados all confirm they are lifting or easing entry restrictions for international arrivals.
The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) unveils a sustainability hub, shining a light on the sustainability initiatives across the country.
Demand for cruise holidays passes 2019 figures, according to cruise association CLIA’s latest consumer sentiment survey.
The Hong Kong Government announces it will give away 500,000 free air tickets to encourage visitors.
The cost-of-living crisis hits and, while only 4% of Brits tell ABTA’s Holiday Habits survey they don’t plan to travel in the next 12 months, a third say they DO plan to cut back on holiday spend.
The Algarve looks again at plans – originally approved pre-COVID but not implemented – to introduce a €2-per-night tourist tax for 2023.
Spain suddenly lifts all restrictions for non-EU travellers, including Brits – just in time for the UK half-term holidays.
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