Belgian travellers not deterred by rising figures in holiday destinations
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Belgian travellers not deterred by rising figures in holiday destinations

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Travellers from Belgium do not change their vacation plans when their booked holiday destinations suddenly turn orange or red on the European coronavirus map, according to airlines and tour operators.

The travel map of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has turned increasingly colourful in recent weeks, with a number of popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal, and many Greek islands turning red.

“Travellers are no longer cancelling their trips en masse, which is a striking difference compared to last year,” Maaike Andries, spokesperson for Brussels Airlines, told De Morgen.

As the authorities are no longer officially discouraging travel within the EU, travel organisers continue to offer almost all destinations – which means the impact of the colour changes on most people’s plans remains limited.

Exceptions are countries where the infections figures are bad and/or the rules are very strict, such as Malta, for example. Tour operator TUI is not flying there for the time being, as travellers have to quarantine upon arrival if they have not been fully vaccinated.

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However, full planes still fly to the Spanish areas of Barcelona and Malaga or the Greek island of Crete, the tour operator stated.

“When people do rebook, it often concerns families with children older than 12,” Andries said. “Because they usually have not been vaccinated yet, they have to present a negative PCR test upon their return from a red zone or have one taken in Belgium and go into quarantine pending the result. Not everyone is in the mood for that.”

Additionally, “more than 90%” of holidaymakers are still leaving for their vacation as planned if their destination is given a different colour code, according to tour operator Sunweb, and TUI also speaks of “an overwhelming majority.”

“Of those who have already booked, at most one in ten will cancel,” the organisation told Het Laatste Nieuws. “New bookings, however, do not happen as much.”

People who do still want to cancel or rebook their trip, however, can often do so free of charge (sometimes even several times), as many airlines and tour operators are offering flexible bookings during the pandemic.

The Brussels Times