'Curveball changes' could mean it's game over for travel agents

Sophie Baker, owner of Oyster Travel in Old Catton

Sophie Baker, owner of Oyster Travel in Old Catton - Credit: Oyster Travel

New rules brought in to stop the spread of the Omicron Covid variant have put a serious dent in the confidence of would-be globetrotters. 

And the warning from Norwich travel agents is that it could spell the end for some businesses - though city brands are determined to keep battling on. 

One travel agent said it was "one step forward and two steps back".

Following from the identification of the new variant, from southern Africa, people arriving in England have to take a PCR test on arrival and self-isolate until they get a negative result.

Sophie Baker, owner of Oyster Travel in Catton Chase, Old Catton, said: "As you think you are getting somewhere and people are getting back to travel the government throws another curveball. It is the red list coming back that is making people nervous about bookings. 

"The lockdowns in Europe are also making people nervous.

"We had a terrific October in terms of sales, better than in Octobers pre-Covid. I hope people keep booking for next year."

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Miss Baker said winter city breaks to Europe were most affected because of various factors including cancelled Christmas markets but believed trips away to the Caribbean and Canary Islands would remain popular.

She added the newer PCR testing system was cheaper and quicker than previous systems introduced in the pandemic.

A former Norwich couple now living in Paphos are keen to make contact with former friends. Picture:

There are fears holidaymakers will lose confidence in travelling abroad due to Covid changes - Credit: PA

Independent travel agent, Sacha Jenkinson, from Wroxham, said: "Tourism has been crucified. It is a right mess. It is a moveable feast and a sad time.

"We'll keep fighting on though. I'm determined to not throw in the towel."

Travel agent Sacha Jenkinson

Travel agent Sacha Jenkinson - Credit: Sacha Jenkinson

Mrs Jenkinson, an agent for Travel Counselors, added: "I think a lot of travel agents won't survive. We have all lost so much money. There needs to be more government help."

She believed the winter ski season was going to be majorly affected.

Richard Pace, managing director of Norwich Airport, added: “We’re encouraged by the forward demand we are seeing for next year, especially on sunshine flights from Norwich Airport, and urge all passengers to make sure they understand the latest rules before they travel.”