Travel bookings surge as Cyprus and Portugal reopen to UK tourists

Sarah Johnson
·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Haro Chakmakjian/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Haro Chakmakjian/AFP/Getty Images

Travel agents have seen a big surge in interest and bookings for holidays abroad since Cyprus and Portugal announced last week that they would be open to British tourists this summer.

Most recent holiday bookings are for July and August, however, with a very few in May, which is when Cyprus has said it will start to welcome UK visitors.

“Cyprus has always been a favourite for our customers and we’ve seen a real uptick in bookings,” said a spokesperson for Tui, the package holiday company.

Thomas Cook saw a quarter more searches for Cyprus on Friday than on Thursday and people were spending 40% longer on hotel pages, suggesting they were more likely to book, according to a spokesperson. “So far, Portugal has not had as many bookings as normal. I think we will see an increase in interest this weekend.”

The Cypriot government said on Thursday night that those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can enter the country without restrictions from 1 May, while on Friday Portugal said those who tested negative or were “immune” could visit.

A man wearing a face mask walks by a closed travel agency in Lisbon.
A man wearing a face mask walks by a closed travel agency in Lisbon. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

People are also booking summer holidays to other destinations such as Greece, Mallorca, Turkey, Spain and France, as well as further afield to the US and Maldives.

A spokesperson for the Association of Specialist Travel Companies said that “Greece has been top of the pops” since the country’s minister for tourism, Haris Theoharis, said last month that UK visitors would be welcome. Theoharis said that the country is working on a plan to make this happen from May.

Currently, travel abroad from the UK is not allowed until 17 May at the earliest, beyond a small number of exceptions. This is subject to a review by the Department for Transport into whether to allow more travel at an earlier date.