‘Nightmare’ for Shropshire travel agents’ as Covid alert hits plans again

Travel agents in Shropshire are once again at the sharp end of changing Covid travel rules.

An independent travel agent in Bridgnorth says changing travel rules are causing 'more pain for the industry' because it means people will choose to 'wait and see' rather than booking holidays now.

Maggie Rogers and her team at The Travelwallet in Bridgnorth spent time before the weekend contacting people abroad to tell them that they needed to get a Covid PCR test on arrival in this country, only for that to change to them also needing to get a test before they leave to come home.

"It's a nightmare but it is just something that we have to get on and deal with it," said Maggie, who has been in the travel business for 40 years.

"I feel sorry for people who went independently who won't know what is happening.

"We had been advising people to book their test on arrival, but that changed and we are saying to people 'Hello, it's us again, it's changed.'

"To say it is a faff underplays it."

Maggie said she noticed that bookings activity slowed down last week following news of the Omicron variant.

"It's more pain for the industry and knocks us right back again but there is no sign of help coming from the Government," she added.

But Maggie said there are signs that next year could be a bumper one for holiday bookings, including for independent travel agents like her's.

"We just have to get through this difficult winter," she said. "People are seeing the value of booking through a high street travel agent and to all the support we can give them."

Roger Blake, of Liberty Travel, in Cross Street, Oswestry, said: "The really scary thought for people on holiday is if they test positive while they are abroad is they they will be stuck. They can't even get on the flight if they don't have a negative lateral flow test."

And for his business, Mr Blake said he had to spend hours helping customers make arrangements, including on putting their holidays back 12 months. He doesn't get paid until the holidays are paid for.

"It is getting to the point where a decision will have to be made about whether it makes sense to use up profits in these circumstances," he said.

"The travel business hasn't made any money for two years.

He appealed for help from the government and Shropshire Council for the travel industry.

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