OLDHAM travel agents have welcomed the change to international travel restrictions and have experienced a boom in bookings.

From today, Monday, a total of 47 countries including South Africa, Mexico and Thailand will be removed from England’s "red list"

Travellers arriving from those destinations will no longer need to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers. Just seven countries will remain on the red list.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also announced the government would recognise vaccines for arrivals from a further 37 countries including Brazil, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey.

Fully vaccinated people entering England from these locations will be exempt from quarantine, the pre-departure test and the day-eight post-arrival test.

And Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government is making travel "easier and cheaper" by "allowing fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries to use lateral flow tests on day two of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use".

No date has been set on when eligible fully-vaccinated arrivals will be able to use a lateral flow test for their day-two test, rather than the more expensive PCR version.

The government said its “ambition” is for this to be in place “for people returning from half-term breaks by the end of the month”.

Failsworth Travel consultant Michael Wright said: "We have seen an uplift in bookings since the latest announcements and people are becoming a bit more confident about travelling.

"We are still having to be on the ball in checking the list and each countries' rules and regulations including when passengers return from them nations so we can help them as much as possible.

"We know they have done everything possible to have a nice holiday.

"We are booking mostly European bookings at the moment but we have just made a booking to America.

"We are also doing a lot of future bookings including for 2023 so people are planning ahead.

"We are a family-run business and it has been a really tough time during the pandemic.

"The cost of the PCR tests has been a barrier as it can cost £120 to £200 on top of the holiday so hopefully now it will be easier for people."

Michael added he is cautiously optimistic that business will keep improving.

Over in Uppermill, Freedom Travel on High Street, which has been trading for 15 years, is enjoying a flood of bookings.

Director Gerry Yiatrou said: "We are really busy at the moment, it's fantastic.

We have been busy for a few months and since restrictions were eased on the European countries.

"It's been a terrible time for travel but things are definitely looking up and countries are making it easier.

"We book holidays all over the world including cruises, which have been really busy for bookings too.

"Some people have even been booking cruises for 2024."

Travel consultant Nazrul Ali at Prime Express Travel, which mainly books trips to Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh, has also enjoyed a boost following the change to the red list.

"Business has started picking up", he added.