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Maidenhead travel agent urges people to 'plan ahead' as lockdown eases

A travel agent has urged people to speak with experts and get ‘up-to-date advice’ before booking trips away.

The travel industry was at a standstill during lockdown with planes grounded and people unable to travel on summer breaks.

But as August approaches and travel agents look to get back on their feet, Mark Pollard, owner of Maidenhead travel firm Tony Sheldon in Brock Lane, has advised people to ‘plan ahead’.

“The industry basically shut down for the last three to four months and it has just got to get going,” he said.

“Holidays are slow, and really I think it is down to just confidence, and people not really knowing whether they can go.

“Everybody’s biggest fear is getting stuck somewhere. The issue is what the countries you are going to are imposing.

“I am quite nervous about booking something for immediate departure unless they need to travel.

“What I would say to people is talk to travel experts to get up-to-date advice, and ensure they book something which is ATOL protected, so they can get their money back [if required].

“I would plan ahead. You may have missed a holiday this year, but have a double one next year.”

The Government says that more than 50 countries now pose ‘a reduced risk’ from coronavirus.

Since June 8, anyone entering the UK from overseas had to go into a mandatory 14-day self-isolation. But the rule has been relaxed from July 10, with popular holiday spots such as Spain and Greece included in a list of countries exempt from quarantine.

Mark, who has had to furlough his staff, said that his business travel sector is starting to pick up again – and he has even had a few bookings to the Caribbean for later this year.

On the lockdown period so far, he said: “We got all of our customers home by the middle of April.

“There were some Australians stuck in Maidenhead and we got them back.”

He added: “The problem we have had is the travel industry has just closed down. We were unable to travel for a while and it is hard. The demand has really dried out.”

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