Travel boss goes on fact-finding Spanish holiday to reassure customers

A travel boss has returned from a fact-finding mission to the Costa del Sol to allay customers’ fears about holidaying in Spain.

Don Bircham , Managing Director of Hays Travel North West.
Don Bircham , Managing Director of Hays Travel North West.

Don Bircham and his wife, Ruth, who run Hays Travel North West with branches in Oswestry and Shrewsbury, said they had a brilliant time.

They flew with Ryanair from Manchester to Malaga for a week in the popular resort of Cala de Mijas, half way between Fuengirola and Marbella.

It was in many ways, he said, it was the best possible time to go on holiday to Spain where everywhere was open but a bit quieter, and gave him renewed confidence the industry will bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.

Last year the couple celebrated 20 years in the business, and said the fact Hays Travel was a successful stable business would stand them in good stead.

All of the company’s 44 branches are now open, and Don said bookings are starting to increase again with pent up demand from customers desperate for a break in the sun after a nightmare 18 months.

Bookings were particularly strong for winter breaks and holidays next year, although more and more customers were after summer holidays, he said.

“The trip to Cala de Mijas was a fact-finding mission to establish what things are really like, from the point of view of travelling and the experience in the resort.

"My wife and I had a wonderful holiday right from the word go.

"It was a really simple process throughout – at the airport, on the aircraft in the resort and the journey home. I can tell people hand on heart that I’ve done it myself and I can thoroughly recommend it. I’ve been there, done that and got the Spanish T shirt.

“All my staff are delighted because they are able to reassure our customers that they’re going to have a great holiday.

“To give yourself complete piece of mind you should always book an ATOL protected package holiday with a reputable high street travel agent and ensure you have Covid holiday insurance.”

Don Bircham said he had a wonderful time on his fact-finding holiday. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

He said life at the airport was normal apart from the mask wearing.

“Food and drink was served on the plane as normal so you could sip your gin and tonic or whatever else took your fancy.

“After landing, it could not have been simpler. You now have to have your passport stamped because we’re non-EU now but that’s nothing to do with Covid.

“Just at the point where you come out of the airport, they take your declaration form off you, scan it and off you go.

"In the resort, you wear a mask indoors – but not in bars or restaurants.

“Coming back was the journey we were most concerned about because you have to have the Covid test in resort but it is so simple. You can be tested in pharmacies and clinics.

“You just need to make sure you get your timing right because the test has to be done within 72 hours of your journey home.

“After having the test, we sat back in the waiting room and the result came back in 15 minutes.

“At the airport, they check that you have had the 50 Euro test in resort and that you have the test, costing £49, booked and waiting for you at home when you return. They also check your passenger locator form.

“Coming back was just so incredibly simple and when you got the gate the staff just checked you’d got your double vaccination, you present your boarding pass as normal."

“From walking off the aircraft to get into my driver’s seat in the car took just 19 minutes very different from rumours of hours of delay."

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