It was after the fire at Windsor Castle that the Queen spoke of her ‘annus horibilus’, and I feel sure that would be a fitting description for the year 2020 which has affected the overwhelming majority of our population in one way or another, some just inconvenience but others who have been seriously hit by the virus itself.

The travel industry has been massively affected this year with bans on flying to a number of countries or two week quarantine when you get back from a foreign visit: most of the airlines don’t reckon they will be back to 2019 levels of passenger carrying until 2023 at the earliest.

The cruise lines have not had nearly so much publicity, but all the major companies are not reckoning to be sailing until Easter and in the meantime, there are many cruise ships to be seen anchored off Weymouth. On a smaller basis, travel agencies have had a torrid time with enforced lockdowns, inability to get clients to where they wish to go and fighting to get refunds for their clients.

Anyway, enough of the past, we need to look forward to 2021 which surely must be considerably better now that the vaccine is being rolled out.

The travel industry has always been advocating booking early and the airlines in particular have their cheapest fares for the earliest bookers, but it does surprise me that there would be so many travel organisations promoting the same message in this time of uncertainty.

Towards the end of last year, I was advocating leaving actual holiday bookings until the beginning of 2021 when I reckoned that things would be more certain, but I think I would now amend that advice by saying that whilst browsing for holiday ideas can be done once current lockdown is over, it is going to be better to leave any commitment until at least February when I believe things will at last be clearer and less risk of a sudden further lockdown.

As if we hadn’t had enough with Covid 19, we now have to think about Brexit and as usual, the media have been unduly negative about the implications for travel. Outside the EU there are no changes, and the only significant change for travelling within Europe is passport validity which now needs to be valid for at least six months beyond your scheduled return date, so now is a good time to renew your passports if necessary. There has also been a lot of talk about the withdrawal of reciprocal free health provisions, and whilst this is true, it is largely academic as very few people would go abroad without a travel insurance because it covers much more than just medical expenses.

So, I think we can be optimistic about holidays next year once the vaccine has kicked in and the restrictions begin to reduce, and I am sure that there will be a pent-up demand after all the trials and tribulations of 2020 – I for one cannot wait until I can get over to France and enjoy some of their great restaurants!

Martin Wellings

Personal Service Travel

27 Grove Road

Eastbourne

BN21 4TU

Tel: 01323-410500

E-mail: holidays@pst-travel.co.uk

www.pst-travel.co.uk