Travel: Simon Calder tells holidaymakers ‘don’t do anything hasty’

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Speaking to BBC News from Orlando in Florida, Simon said: “Please if you are watching this, if you’ve got a trip booked, I completely understand that you’re anxious about what’s going to happen, please don’t do anything hasty. Because if you make changes, if you decide right we’ve got to cancel this now, then you will almost certainly lose out.”

Calder warned passengers as the UK Government announced a change to travel rules for British tourists.

Travellers arriving in the UK from a non-red destination will now need to take a PCR test and self isolate until they have the result.

British travellers will need to take a PCR test from 4am on Tuesday November 30.

Several African countries, including South Africa and Malawi, have been added to the red list.

Switzerland has also introduced a ten day quarantine for British tourists after Omicron cases were identified in the UK.

Simon said: “One of the best aspects of any journey is the anticipation but instead of that I’m seeing lots of apprehension among people who have got Christmas and New Year, or early 2022 skiing holidays booked.

“I mean at the moment Switzerland has put in quarantine for people coming in from the UK because we’ve got the Omicron variant here which means of course, Geneva the key gateway for lots of the French and Swiss alps, is very very uncertain at the moment.”

The travel expert said the new rules would undermine confidence in the industry among British tourists.

He said: “I’ve already had lots of people getting in touch saying ‘Help, I have booked my lateral flow test for a family of four’.

“That’s likely to cost around £100. Now they are faced with paying for the much slower and more expensive tests, the PCR tests, which if you’re going to do what I’m going to do when I get back, you take at the airport as soon as you arrive, so that you’re self isolating for the absolute minimum length of time.

“I’ve just been checking prices, Heathrow is £119, multiply that for a family of four and you’re talking about £500 that people simply weren’t expecting to spend.”

He said: “This whole episode undermines confidence.

“Of course we now have the ten Southern African countries where people have to come back and go into hotel quarantine at a cost of around £2,000 per person and so that is not going to persuade people to book.”

Simon said: “So at the moment, it’s as you were.

“Anyone coming in from abroad has to have a lateral flow test pre-booked and they need to take that on the day they arrive or one of the two following days.

“Then once they’ve got that booked, they’ve got a code number, they can fill in a passenger locator form.

“What we heard last night from the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary, is that you will instead need a PCR test.

“And crucially between getting back and getting the result of that PCR test you are going to have to self-isolate.

“It’s simply one of those things they announce, everyone thought ‘help what am I going to do’, because of course there are thousands of people arriving on overnight flights this morning to Heathrow, to Manchester, to Gatwick and they’re still working by the old system which is in fact all they can do at the moment.” 

The Government announced on November 28 that the new rules would be in place from 4am on Tuesday November 30. 

Calder said: ”So please if you’ve not booked your test don’t do it til the last minute, I fly out of here at 7 o’clock on Friday.

“Around about mid afternoon, I will start booking my test and filling in the passenger locator form.

“There is no point booking anything before that, things will change and people will lose out.

“But of course these rules are important and it’s absolutely essential that travellers follow them.”

British tourists are advised to check the UK Government website for the latest rules and restrictions.

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