By Martin Wellings

PST Travel, Eastbourne

The ‘Italian Job’ was a great film featuring Michael Caine as a gang leader stealing gold bullion and then fleeing in a fleet of Minis.

And in one of the scenes, the gang had hacked the traffic light system so that all the lights were flashing red, amber, and green bringing the whole of Milan to a gridlock.

I was reminded of this film with the traffic light system for travel introduced by the government some while ago, because the continual changing of colours on the ‘traffic lights’ has resulted in the same thing as in the film – gridlock.

The first green list to be introduced featured the Falklands and South Georgia, not exactly ideal summer holiday destinations even if you could fly there (you can’t!) and the latest features North Korea as a ‘desirable’ country to visit.

Certainty soon

The big problem now can be put down to one word – uncertainty. There is little point in going for a relaxing holiday abroad only to find that the status of the country has changed whilst you are away and you must isolate at home on your return, or even worse, must pay a high price for staying at a mandatory hotel for quarantine. So, what to do?

The first thing is to await some better information from the government so that confidence can be restored, and you can be sure that you will be able to return as scheduled without quarantine, and the other caution is to choose a package rather than booking flights and hotels separately.

If flights are booked directly with any airline, and it operates as scheduled, then you will get no refund whatever the restrictions on your return may be, but if a holiday is booked using a tour operator, the operator is responsible and if the holiday cannot be operated as scheduled, a change of date or refund will be given.

I feel that we are not too far away when we can get at least some certainty on the major tourist destinations because of the success of the vaccinations here and to a slightly less extent, in continental Europe, but fear that it will be some time before we can travel freely to some of the more far-flung exotic countries.

The travel trade has had an extraordinarily bad time since March last year and has been made worse by all the time and resources necessary to either make changes in client’s bookings or obtain refunds, obviously they can’t charge for all this extra work – if we could charge solicitors rates for every letter and telephone call, we would all be rich!

One thing I do feel certain about, and that is that there will be a strong demand when restrictions do disappear, so called ‘staycations’ may be OK for many in the current circumstances, but with the absence of guaranteed sun and many inflated prices, a foreign holiday is going to look even more appealing.