COVID-wearing Brits are gearing up for a winter sunshine getaway as foreign travel restrictions will finally be eased.
Nearly half of people say they have booked or are considering a late break this year – more than before the pandemic.
Many are playing “catch-up” after being forced to stay at home for the last two summers and are ready to splash out on a exotic trips.
The exodus has been spurred by the relaxing of Covid test rules which added hundreds of pounds to the cost of a family holiday.
From Sunday, fully-jabbed people will no longer have to fork out for a pricey PCR test two days after returning home.
Instead they will be able to take a cheaper and simpler lateral flow test, which cuts the testing cost for each holidaymaker travelling to Spain from £320 to just £22.
Tour operators are braced for a surge in bookings as families take advantage following a year of lockdown followed by five months of “traffic light” travel restrictions.
Many are bound for hotspots such as the Canary Islands, ski resorts and Christmas market destinations.
Foreign travel is expected to rocket even further when the USA re-opens to British tourists on November 14.
A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: “Many people missed out on a foreign trip this summer due to all of the travel restrictions.
“Now that the process of going abroad is much easier and simpler if you are fully vaccinated, lots of holidaymakers are looking to play catch-up over the winter – seeking out sun, snow or Christmas shopping.”
ABTA’s own consumer research shows 46 per cent have booked or are considering taking a winter holiday this year.
But a separate survey reveals that more are expected to travel abroad this winter than last summer.
One in four people – 26 per cent – say they are now considering having a winter holiday abroad, according to a Survation poll for Covid test provider Project Screen by Prenetics.
The firm, which operates from Heathrow, Stansted, Southend and Luton airports, is preparing for a leap in bookings from homecoming holidaymakers.
Prenetics boss Avi Lasarow said: “It looks like more people will be travelling now than during the summer.
“This has been caused by a double boost of cheaper testing and more people being fully vaccinated.
“After a year of lockdowns, Brits deserve a break and we’re pleased to be helping them travel abroad safer and cheaper.”
Younger people are more keen to get away with 43 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they will take a winter holiday.
But the poll shows more than half the public, 51 per cent, still seems unaware of the new testing rules, which mean you have to buy them from a government provider and send back a picture of your test so it can be verified.
Prenetics, who are on the new Government list of approved lateral flow providers is offering this lateral flow test for just £22 which means a fully vaccinated travelling to Spain will see their covid testing costs slashed by £300 or 93 per cent.
That’s enough saved money to pay for return flights for a family of four from London to Spain.