Yesterday, there were reports of some flights bound to Spain from the UK were taking off almost empty. | Reuters


A recent on-line Bulletin survey asked readers “Has your Christmas holiday plans been upset by new restrictions?” The result was: Yes: 52.9% and No: 47.1%. Prior to that readers were asked “Will you be staying in Majorca for Christmas?” The results was: Yes: 40.54% and No: 59.46%.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the new UK travel restrictions which came into force yesterday, the results will no doubt be slightly different if readers were canvassed again today, especially with regards to leaving Mallorca for Christmas in the UK.

The new travel restrictions which require people travelling to the UK to now take a pre-departure Covid test as part of the measures to tackle the new Omicron variant have neither gone down well with the tourist industry not the travelling public.

The change came into force at 04:00 GMT yesterday morning, with travellers over the age of 12 having to submit evidence of a negative lateral flow or PCR test that has been taken in the two days before the departure to the UK.

The news has dismayed the travel industry, but for travellers about to leave the UK, the extra cost, confusion and inconvenience about getting tested before returning now overshadows their trips.

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Some are even considering cancelling because there is no guarantee the rules will not change yet again and, on the flip side, people who had been planning on heading to the UK for Christmas, in particular expatriates in Majorca and across Spain who perhaps have not seen friends and family for the best part of two years, are also thinking twice or even cancelling.

Yesterday, there were reports of some flights bound to Spain from the UK were taking off almost empty.

ABTA, the UK association of travel agents and tour operators, said: “The re-introduction of pre-departure tests will be a huge blow to travellers and an already devastated travel industry, which has been the hardest hit sector throughout the crisis and which is now fast approaching the key booking season for next summer.

“While we have always been clear that public health must be the priority at this time, the government must now step up to save jobs and businesses.”

And, suggestions that the British government may keep the travel restrictions in place until March will come as a major set back to Mallorca’s plans to get hotels open in February and embark on an early start to a long season next year.

The Balearic tourism authorities are watching developments in the UK and the rest of Northern Europe extremely closely with regard to the spread of the new variant and also next season.