Transport Secretary for England Grant Shapps says he is the last person people should be taking travel advice from.
Mr Shapps was asked whether it was wise for pensioners who have had the Covid vaccine to book summer holidays
But he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am the last person you should take travel advice on this from.
“I remember about this time last year, or a little bit later, being asked whether I would book a summer holiday. We then had the travel corridors and I did book, I went to Spain with my family.
“And, within an hour of getting there, I, myself, put Spain… took them out of the travel corridor, meaning that I needed to come home and start my quarantine, leaving my family there.
“So, don’t take any travel advice from me.”
Holiday firms say there has been a spike in bookings from people aged over 50 since the Covid vaccination rollout began.
Leisure travel is currently banned due to lockdown rules.
But the launch of coronavirus jabs has led some people who will be prioritised for the vaccine to book long-awaited trips.
Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, said half of bookings so far this year have been made by people aged over 50.
Managing director Andrew Flintham said demand from this age group “wasn’t coming through” previously.
He believes the change is “on the back of the positive vaccine news”.
He continued: “Customers long for a sunshine break later in summer, particularly in Greece, Turkey or the Balearics.
“And many Brits want to get away for longer this year, opting for 14, 10 or 11 nights instead of seven to make up for not having a holiday in 2020.”
National Express said its coach holiday business – which predominantly caters for pensioners – has seen bookings nearly triple for spring and summer trips compared with the same point last year.
It believes many customers are choosing UK breaks because of uncertainty around international travel and quarantine rules.
The most popular domestic destinations for 2021 are the Cotswolds, the Isle of Wight, York and the Lake District.
National Express head of holidays and travel Jit Desai said: “Ninety-eight per cent of our customer base is over 65 and we’ve seen an increased appetite for travel in the last week or two with an uplift in inquiries and bookings every time there’s been an announcement about new vaccine approvals and the rollout programme.
“Some of this is postponed travel carried over from last year.
“But there’s definitely a trend of customers being comfortable that they will have had their vaccination and be protected from spring onwards, so can start to make travel plans.
“Some are telling us that they’ve already had their jab and can’t wait to go on holiday once guidance allows again.”
Asked about how the new system requiring people entering the UK from Monday to produce a negative Covid test would work, Grant Shapps told the BBC: “The carrier would need to first of all check that you had a coronavirus test, and indeed, that you had filled in a passenger locator form before you are actually able to get on the flight.
“And, only if you can show within the last 72 hours a negative test, and only if that test is up to very specific standards, may you board that plane.
“So that is where the check takes place.”
Asked if the Brazilian mutant of coronavirus was in the UK now, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Not as far as we are aware, I think, at this stage.
“There haven’t been any flights that I can see from the last week from Brazil, for example.”
Asked about reports France would not recognise the “red circle” antigen test for people trying to enter the country from Monday, Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast: “I think this is in reference to the French requiring what they call the PCR test.
“First of all, no one should be going to France. No one should be travelling.
“Secondly, we have a particular arrangement with the French regarding the hauliers, this is the lorry drivers, with tests which are called the lateral flow tests.
“And that remains in place at the moment.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk