Passport crisis: Holiday makers urged to act now to avoid getaway misery by Peterborough's Sunny Heart Travel

Holiday makers are being urged to update their passports immediately by a travel agency in Peterborough.

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 8:01 pm

The appeal comes from the boss of Sunny Heart Travel in Peterborough after he received a spate of calls about the crisis surrounding delays about passport renewals.

Now Steve Bentzen, chief executive of Sunny Heart Travel, says holiday makers who need their passports updating should submit the renewal applications immediately in order to avoid any heartbreak from a possible getaway cancellation.

It is estimated there is a backlog of about five million passport renewals across the UK’s Passports Offices, including its office in Northminster, Peterborough, as staff fail to meet the 10 week target to deal with each renewal application.

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Former Thomas Cook IT programme manager Steve Bentzen is chief executive and former Thomas Cook IT project manager Jemma Sharman is chief information officer of Sunny Heart Travel.

A number of MPs have branded the backlog a ‘shambles’ and have blamed it on Passport Office officials being caught out by the nationwide surge in demand for overseas holidays as Covid-19 pandemic regulations forbidding foreign travel were lifted and Brexit travel rules gradually came into force

Mr Bentzen, who created Sunny Heart Travel with former Thomas Cook colleague Jemma Sharman, chief information officer last year. said: “We have had a number of calls on passport issues.

“So we are advising all of our summer holiday bookings to apply now for passport renewals.

He said: “Our advice is to use the fast track service which has been effective to date, and we haven’t had to deal with any cancellations so far.

Mr Bentzen added: “If anyone who is booked with us has concerns, then please call us on 0345 222 0459.

"The sooner we start looking at options the better.”

Mr Bentzen said that customers’ favourite destinations currently are Turkey, Spain and long haul like Thailand where customers are spending more of their holiday budget on something special following Covid-19 health crisis.

The company’s name Sunny Heart Travel and its logo is a nod to the famous heart logo used by former holiday giant Thomas Cook, which employed about 1,000 people at its head office in Lynch Wood before it collapse 12 months ago.

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