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French ski resorts celebrate as British tourists allowed to return

French ski resorts reacted with delight on Thursday after the French government announced an easing of travel restrictions on the UK, allowing British tourists to return.

France's Courchevel ski resort.
France's Courchevel ski resort. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

A blanket ban on non-essential travel from December 18th caused British holiday-makers to cancel planned trips at the end of the year, particularly skiers who head to the Alps over the holidays.

However, on Thursday France announced a lifting of the rules, which were originally put in place due to the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.

“The wide circulation today of the variant in both countries has led the government to make the following changes,” a statement from Prime Minister Jean Castex’s office said.

From Friday, January 15th all vaccinated travellers entering France from the UK will have to show only a negative PCR or antigen test taken 24 hours before their departure.

Unvaccinated travellers, however, will have to provide a “compelling reason” to travel such as a family emergency, and will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in France at an address that must be registered with security forces.

Find a full breakdown of the rules for travel in both directions HERE.

The opening of the border will allow British winter-sports enthusiasts to return to the French Alps.

READ ALSO What are the Covid rules in French ski resorts?

“Thousands of people head there for ski breaks at this time of year, so this will be a huge relief for customers with holidays booked there for the next few weeks, who have been waiting anxiously for news,” the ABTA, which represents British travel groups, said in a statement.

Alex Sykes, flight operations manager at the UK-based Mark Warner travel operator, told AFP that he was “very relieved and very happy to get operational again, starting this weekend.”

“We’re hoping this is the last of the disruptions this winter season,” he said.

Gilles Delaruelle, chief executive of the Courchevel resort in France, told AFP: “We’re expecting a wave of bookings for February and March.”

French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said last week that stays in the Savoie and Haute-Savoie areas, where most resorts are located, were down by 10 to 20 percent over the Christmas and New Year period compared with 2019.

Lemoyne said on Thursday that Britons accounted for around 15 percent of all visitors to French ski resorts, and even more in some of the biggest high-altitude stations.

“The decision this morning will enable them to recoup some of their losses, I hope,” he told the TV5 Monde channel.

Eurostar, the operator of train services between the UK and France, also welcomed the change, saying it would increase the number of services in the weeks ahead.

The boss of cross-channel ferry group Brittany Ferries, Christophe Mathieu, said he hoped it was “the last border closure of the Covid crisis.”
  

Member comments

  1. The thing I still can’t work out is whether a 12-18 year old with a single vaccine dose will be able to continue with the daily antigen test to access ski lifts. My fully boosted daughter and son in law arrive on 29th January with my 13 year old grandson who has only had one vaccine. As he has not reached the 12 week wait, the UK will not give him the second dose until early February which is too late for their departure. Any suggestions or clearer advice would be greatly appreciated. Maybe the authorities at the resorts will know? Thanks John

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STRIKES

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

The main union representing French air traffic controllers has cancelled calls for a strike from September 28th to 30th, after "reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry."

UPDATE: French air traffic controllers cancel strike action in September

SNCTA, the main union for air traffic controllers said this week that they had lifted their calls for a three-day strike at the end of September after coming to an agreement with France Ministry of Transport. 

In a statement on its website, the SNCTA said “In view of the concrete progress made on the demands, the SNCTA is lifting its [strike] notice for September 28th, 29th and 30th. The strong mobilisation of September 16th was necessary and instrumental for reaching this conciliation in a very constrained calendar. Thank you to all of you!” 

The French ministry of transport has not yet commented on the above agreement or lifting of the strike.

The International Air Transport Association tweeted their support for the SNCTA’s decision to cancel further industrial action, calling Friday’s strike “unnecessary.”

The association also urged the European Union to implement a “Single European Sky.” This reform, which was put forward almost 20 years ago, has not yet reached fruition. It intends to shift the current system of air traffic organisation away from national borders and toward a “coherent zone” in order to reduce emissions and save both time and money.

The strike on September 16th left over 1,000 flights in France grounded, as well as widespread delays and over 2,400 flight cancellations across Europe. 

The SNCTA mobilised for wage increases due to the rising cost of living, in addition to an acceleration of recruitment in order to anticipate a wave of retirements. After Friday’s action, the union had called for further strikes from September 28th to 30th before reaching an agreement with their supervisory ministry. 

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