Tour operators are fed up. Every time a holiday destination turned orange – due to an increasing number of corona infections – they had to have their travelers rebook or cancel free of charge. Last week, TUI canceled 30,000 holiday trips to Spain, which turned completely orange on the map of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
But holidaymakers who arrange their own travel and accommodation continued to flock to these ‘orange’ countries.
So more and more tour operators are now saying: we also fly to ‘orange’ countries such as Spain, Portugal and Turkey, which the Foreign Office advises against for unnecessary travel.
After Corendon and Prijsvrij Vakanties, among others, Sunweb made this announcement on Thursday. “We now leave that choice to our customers,” says CEO Mattijs ten Brink. “After last week the Spanish islands, Cyprus and Portugal received code orange, we noticed that more than half of our customers are very eager to leave.”
Lots of enthusiasm from customers
Prijsvrij also notices a lot of enthusiasm among holidaymakers to continue their trip as soon as a country turns orange. “More than 70 percent want to travel,” says Joep Kelder of the tour operator from Den Bosch. Even if they are allowed to rebook or cancel free of charge.
TUI does not yet carry out trips to orange areas, but is now “reconsidering” that, says Arjan Kers, director of TUI Netherlands. “We carefully check the consequences for each country.”
We now leave the choice with our customers
Mattijs ten Brink CEO Sunweb
It is not forbidden to travel to a country with an orange travel advice, and it is also allowed for tour operators to offer such trips. The government does require that the tour operator “points out the risks”, says the website of the national government.
Also read: Uncertainties about the summer holidays lead to a lot of discussion and a run on the travel agencies
For example, no travel insurance reimburses corona-related damage in countries with code orange, if it concerns a non-essential trip. With some insurers, all other damage is not covered.
Corona insurance by government
But some governments are compensating for this, says Kelder van Prijsvrij, with their own corona insurance for all tourists in their country. “We see that more and more. The Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, among others, are doing this to remove obstacles for tourists.”
Now that more and more people have been vaccinated, the color codes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are losing their meaning, according to travel industry organization ANVR. “Why would it be safe if I walk around the Tilburg fairground untested and unvaccinated,” says chairman Frank Oostdam. “And not safe if I walk around tested or vaccinated in Lisbon or Spain? That is not clear.”
He argues for a new kind of travel advice, which is not based on infection figures, but on the vaccination rate and the number of hospital admissions in a region. “Travel advice must become credible again.”
On the map of the European RIVM, the Netherlands itself is now largely dark red. But that makes little difference, says Oostdam. “If you can show that you have been tested or vaccinated, you just enter a country, we have noticed. At a detailed level, countries sometimes tighten their rules, but we still see few draconian measures such as quarantine obligations.”