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France ski bookings boosted after ban on UK tourists lifted

Travel operators have reported a spike in bookings to French ski destinations after France dropped a ban on British tourists.

Jet2 and easyJet both saw an increase in searches and reservations within hours of the announcement.

Ferry operators and cross-channel train operator Eurostar also welcomed the decision.

It means that from Friday morning, people who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure.

The requirement to isolate on arrival will be scrapped.

A ban on travel to and from Britain without “compelling reasons” had been put in place by France last month in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Restrictions have been eased now that the variant is prevalent in both countries.

The move represents a boost for the beleaguered travel industry just in time for the winter ski season and comes after pre-departure tests for UK arrivals were scrapped last week – a move which also gave a lift to the sector.

Jet2 chief executive Steve Heapy said following France’s announcement there had been a “sharp and immediate” spike in bookings for ski flights.

“The snow conditions in the French Alps are said to be excellent, meaning our customers are jumping at the chance to get back on the slopes,” he said.

“This is yet more great news for the travel industry and further reinforces our already strong belief that 2022 is a year to look forward to with real confidence.”

Jet2 said it would resume ski flights to Grenoble, Chambery and Lyon from 22 January and restart trips to Paris from 11 February.

Easyjet also saw a boost from the easing of restrictions.

It said: “Following the announcement from the French government on lifting the ban on UK tourists, we have seen an initial lift in UK bookings over the coming weeks to our French destinations serving some of Europe’s favourite ski resorts including Lyon and Grenoble.”

British Airways said that British Airways Holidays, its package holiday arm, had seen a 44% rise in searches for holidays to France on Thursday afternoon, compared with the day before.

Chris Logan, managing director of Crystal Ski Holidays, Britain’s biggest winter sports operator, said he was “delighted” with the decision after a “challenging start to the season”.

Mr Logan said the business, owned by travel giant Tui, had already seen an increase in searches and bookings ahead of the announcement and “would expect to see another very positive uptick now it’s official”.

Eurostar welcomed the announcement and said it was ready to ramp up services in coming weeks.

Brittany Ferries chief executive Christophe Mathieu said it was a “great relief” and expressed hope that “we have seen the last border closure of the COVID crisis”.

He said: “We’ve all suffered enormously over the last two years.

“Thousands of Brittany Ferries passengers have been disrupted and millions of pounds in income has been lost as a consequence of draconian measures like border closures.”

Abby Penlington, director at industry body Discover Ferries, said: “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.”

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