France has reopened its borders to British tourists after ministers in Paris relaxed restrictions on non-essential travel.
As of this morning, Britons traveling to the country need only show proof of vaccination and a negative test taken no more than 24 hours before departure. the 48-hour quarantine requirements on arrival and a compelling reason to enter the country have been removed..
Alexandre Holroyd, the French parliamentarian responsible for expatriates living in the UK, confirmed the news and thanked Jean Castex, the French prime minister, for listening to his requests.
The news is a boost for tourists who have booked a ski trip to France. It is the UK’s most popular winter sports destination, attracting around a million skiers a year.
The French border was closed to UK tourists on December 18 as ministers in Paris sought to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, but since the decision was made the number of Covid cases in France has skyrocketed. The country registered more than 360,000 new infections yesterday.
“We eagerly await this decision and are delighted to welcome back our British customers,” said Vincent Lalanne, director of the Val Thorens tourist office. “Snow conditions are exceptional so we expect to see them en masse starting this weekend.”
Many French resorts reported that visitor numbers had plummeted due to restrictions and that they were suffering economically. Now they are preparing for the return of British tourists, especially during the February semester.
Eurostar said it would increase the number of services to meet demand. Airlines and tour operators also reported a strong increase in bookings.
Nick Morgan, managing director of Le Ski, said he was considering bringing Britons to his 33 chalets in the French Alps from Sunday. Other operators, such as Brighton-based Ski Beat, are preparing to take their first guests tomorrow. Chris Logan, managing director of Crystal Ski Holidays, Britain’s largest winter sports operator, said: “Like the rest of the skiing community, I am delighted that we can get back on the slopes in France. Reservations to France doubled [yesterday] even before the announcement and we would expect to see another very positive rally now that it is official.”
Starting Saturday, booster shots will be mandatory for anyone aged 18 to 64 who has been fully vaccinated for more than seven months. Reinforcements are a requirement to obtain a health pass, which is used to enter bars, restaurants, museums and ski lifts, among other public places in France.
Charles Owen, managing director of Seasonal Businesses in Travel, which represents ski companies, said: “This is very welcome news not only for the thousands of UK tourists and people visiting friends and family in France, but also for the thousands of UK ski tourists”. operators that have been in an effective shutdown for 22 months.”
Ministers last week relaxed travel rules in Britain, including removing the need for passengers to take a test before traveling to the UK.
The government has also removed the requirement for a PCR test on or before day two after arrival, replacing it with a cheaper lateral flow test. The change went into effect on Sunday. The need to quarantine before receiving a negative result has also been removed.
The United States Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration from imposing vaccine mandates on large American companies. The mandate went into effect Monday and requires all businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure all employees are vaccinated and impose rigorous workplace testing. The court ruled yesterday that the White House had exceeded its authority.