Travel firms reported a surge in bookings for winter sports holidays as France reopened its borders to UK tourists on Friday.
For the first time in nearly four weeks, UK travellers who are fully vaccinated can enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure.
The requirement to self-isolate for 48 hours on arrival has also been scrapped.
There is pent-up demand, with many desperate to get away this year
Ali Gayward, easyJet
In the hours after France announced on Thursday it was lifting restrictions, easyJet saw a seven-fold increase in demand for flights from the UK to popular French ski destinations for the remainder of the winter season, compared with the same period last week.
Bookings for winter flights to Switzerland were nearly five times higher week-on-week, which the airline believes indicates that consumer confidence in international travel in general has been strengthened by France’s decision.
EasyJet’s UK country manager Ali Gayward said: “With France welcoming British tourists once again, skiing is well and truly back on.
“This is welcome news for UK consumers, particularly for those looking to book a last-minute family break or planning to head to the slopes, with low fares still available across thousands of flights to France this winter, including over half-term.
“We know that there is pent-up demand, with many desperate to get away this year, which we continue to see each time restrictions are removed.
“With flying already scheduled to increase in the coming weeks, we will continue to review our schedule to meet demand and we look forward to taking our customers away on a long-awaited break this winter.”
Ski chalet holiday firm Ski Beat said Thursday was one of the busiest days for bookings in its 33-year history.
Sales and marketing director Laura Hazell said: “At the same time as we were bringing skiers the good news that Saturday’s departures from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester could go ahead, we were fielding an unprecedented number of calls from skiers wanting to make new bookings with us.
“The same was true online, with our website receiving a great surge in activity from the minute that the French government’s decision was confirmed.
“This is in stark contrast to a week ago.”
France introduced a ban on non-essential travel to and from the UK on December 18 in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which has since become the dominant strain in both countries.
People who are not fully vaccinated continue to need a “compelling reason” to travel between the UK and France.
The UK eased its own restrictions on international travel last week.
People who are fully vaccinated no longer have to take a Covid test before they arrive in the UK, and can take a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test rather than a PCR test after they arrive.
The changes save a family of four around £300.