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‘We’ll weather the coronavirus storm’: Travel boss defiant after 30% drop in bookings

PUBLISHED: 14:38 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:38 11 March 2020

Nicholas Lee, director of Broadland Travel. Pic: Archant library

Nicholas Lee, director of Broadland Travel. Pic: Archant library

The boss of a travel firm in Norfolk vowed the industry would recover from the impact of coronavirus – despite bookings being down.

Nicholas Lee, who heads up Broadland Travel in North Walsham, mainly deals with holidays to long-haul destinations rather than Europe.

But the fears over travel right now because of coronavirus has caused bookings to drop - and even though calls are still coming in, he said people are choosing to delay making holiday plans.

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Broadland Travel in North Walsham. Pic: Archant libraryBroadland Travel in North Walsham. Pic: Archant library

'It's only short term but day by day it got quieter last week, there was a big drop and we hit the bottom and then this week, by Monday, I would say we were 30% down, but things are starting to pick up, enquiries are still coming in but people aren't booking.

'We'll weather the coronavirus storm, the travel industry has gone through things like this so many times, bookings can be down if it's the World Cup or the Olympics.'

The travel industry, affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook earlier this year and more recently by airlines going under like Flybe, has seen coach firms scrap trips to Italy after BA, Easjet and Jet2 cancelled flights to and from the country, currently in lockdown because of coronavirus.

Meanwhile other travel firms are offering special deals to places like Bulgaria.

Mr Lee said he'd cancelled all Italian holidays, but this had only affected about seven-eight people. Broadland Travel has been running for nearly 30 years.

'We've had a lot of poeople wanting to postpone travel to Europe, but they don't want to go in the summer, so they're looking at next winter or cancelling altogether. '

He said they'd been working with their suppliers to offer people the ability to cancel and not incur cost for travel before April.

But he said those travel firms which had been hit by the collapse of Thomas Cook earlier this year would be feeling the pinch.

'They had to pay back all the money owed on cancelled holidays to the CAA, Civil Aviation Authority, so will be badly hit by this.'

He said cruise holidays had been most affected, with few people wanting to book one, particularly older people with health issues, but that some enquiries were still coming in for further afield, for trips to Africa, Australia and the US.

And he said it didn't mean holidays would be slashed in price because large firms were prepared to sit it out and wait. However, he said if you were prepared to travel right now, there were some good deals - such as a week self-catering in the Algarve for £210 per person.

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