Confusion over whether to book summer holidays after mixed messages from government

Consumers are becoming increasingly confused about whether or not it’s advisable to book a summer holiday after UK government ministers have given a deluge of mixed messages.

On Wednesday, transport secretary Grant Shapps warned: “People shouldn’t be booking holidays right now, not domestically or internationally.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock then said “there is uncertainty, and that means we cannot make categorical assurances” about summer holidays, urging the public to be patient.

But, meanwhile, he told LBC: “I absolutely hope for a great British summer and I’m working incredibly hard to try to make sure that can happen,” and even admitted he’d booked a place in Cornwall for the summer.

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Last month, the health secretary declared: “I’m going to Cornwall. And I have said before I think we’re going to have a great British summer.”

Even the prime minister has given conflicting advice on the subject; on 1 February, Boris Johnson said he was “optimistic” about summer holidays going ahead, while on 10 February he said: “I am afraid it is just too early for people to be certain about what we’ll be able to do this summer.”

The same day, his official spokesperson told journalists that the decision of whether or not to book a holiday was “a choice for individuals”.

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These contradictory statements are causing havoc for holidaymakers and travel companies alike.

“The government – we will do all we can to make sure you can have a summer holiday this year. Also the government on the same day – oh absolutely no chance, none whatsoever throw just your passports away!” said one Twitter user.

Another wrote: “PM, Transport Secretary and Health Secretary give out three different messages on holidays yet Hancock says that they are all saying the same thing, through abysmal communication they are confusing the public again and again and again.”

Yet another social media user commented: “The transport secretary has just advised the UK public not to book a holiday whether in the country or abroad. Matt Hancock just announced he’s booked himself a summer holiday. Just another day in conservative British politics.”

The outcome was that some consumers thought they should go ahead and book a summer holiday, while others concluded they should rule the idea out.

“This government like to confuse the public about booking a holiday this summer saying it’s too early to do so, sorry if health secretary Matt Hancock can book a summer holiday in Cornwall then we should do the same and book a holiday,” said one commenter on Twitter.

Meanwhile, another user tweeted: “Would like Matt Hancock to stop suggesting that we’ll all be able to take our summer holidays this year. It’s no way to tackle a pandemic and will also only lead to a lot of disappointment for those daft enough to book holidays. I’m not even contemplating it.”

It’s sparked fury within the travel industry once again. After Grant Shapps pronounced of international travel, “the best advice is: do nothing at this stage”, Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive at Advantage Travel Partnership – a consortium of agents – criticised his “flippant disregard for a sector that is critical to re-establishing a Global Britain”.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), said: “Airlines are drowning, but rather than throwing us a life raft, the transport secretary has just thrown a bucket of cold water at us.”

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