Tens of thousands of holidays to Turkey are being cancelled after the UK government added the country to the quarantine list on Thursday night, dashing hopes of a boost for the travel industry from late summer sun and October half-term breaks.
The announcement was tweeted by transport secretary Grant Shapps, stating that all arrivals into the UK from Turkey would need to self-isolate for 14 days from 4am on 3 October, along with Poland and the Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. Shapps justified the move by saying that the Turkish Health Ministry had been “defining the number of new Covid cases in a different way to the definition used by international organisations such as WHO and ECDC”.
Bookings for Turkey had seen a boost after other popular holiday destinations were added to the list last month, including several Greek islands and Portugal. Turkey had not been considered a likely contender for quarantine measures, given that yesterday’s reported case numbers were 12.9 per 100,000 over the previous seven days, significantly below the 20 per 100,000 the UK government regards as a criteria for quarantine.
There are an estimated 10,000 UK holiday makers in Turkey at the moment and a further 40-50,000 due to travel there in the next month, according to Paul Charles of travel consultancy the PC Agency. Tour operators have already begun cancelling large numbers of bookings.
Thomas Cook has removed holidays to Turkey (along with Poland) from sale. Customers can get a refund on trips, postpone or change destination. A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said that it was one of the most popular choices for holidays since the company relaunched last month, and that “only a handful have cancelled”.
TUI has cancelled all holidays up to and including 3 October. It is updating any customers due to travel from 4-15 October.
Jet2 is suspending sale of the country and cancelling all package holidays up to and including 17 October, with all affected customers able to get a full refund or receive £100 off if they rebook. Flight-only customers can rebook without a fee.
Independent tour operator Eco Turkey, which specialises in tailor-made tours, currently has around 70 customers in Turkey, and 200 booked to go between now and January. It had seen a boost for holidays to Turkey over the summer after restrictions were lifted in June, with a relatively busy July, August and September – although numbers are still down