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Austria has joined France in tightening travel restrictions for British arrivals, just as the ski season gets underway.

From Saturday, all Britons wishing to visit the Alpine nation must present proof of full vaccination, a booster and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. While not an outright ban on visiting, like France, 54 per cent of Telegraph readers believe such rules will discourage them from taking a ski holiday this season, as the industry hits back on nations’ ‘knee jerk’ approaches at such a crucial time.

“These knee-jerk responses seem pointless, so we have to hope they quickly remove them when their omicron percentages match the UK’s in a week or so,” said Richard Sinclair, managing director of specialist travel agent SNO. 

Operators, resorts and holidaymakers have been left “holding their breath” to see if the remaining departure over the New Year, to destinations that remain open to British skiers, will go ahead unscathed.

“The UK travel industry is financially on its knees,” said Charles Owen, founder of Seasonal Business in Travel which represents over 200 businesses operating in the mountains, as he joined calls for the chancellor to offer “tailored” support for the thousands of workers who rely on the winter months in order to survive.

Reports from the French Alps, where Britons are now banned, suggest businesses are set to lose 20 per cent or more of the season’s income over the coming festive weeks.

Once omicron becomes dominant on the continent, “it will be harder to justify these ill-conceived barriers to travel,” believes Sinclair. Today, the  UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is expected to confirm research that suggests omicron causes far milder illness than delta and that booster vaccines provide “substantial” extra protection.

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