New Year bookings boom leaves holiday firms hopeful for a record 2017

Rural Life - Sheringham - High Street.

Rural Life - Sheringham - High Street. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Archant

Buoyant holiday firms are anticipating a bumper 2017 as year-on-year booking levels soar.

Rural Life - Cromer - .

Rural Life - Cromer - . Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Archant

Tourism businesses across the region hope the start-of-year bookings boom will pave the way for a record season.

Holt-based Norfolk Country Cottages has already seen both its busiest start and end of year periods during the last few weeks, with Wells, Cromer and Sheringham its most popular destinations.

Bookings between Christmas and New Year rose 10% on 2015, while bookings made on December 31 soared by 27.5% year-on-year.

But on January 3, 141 weeks' worth of holidays were booked – a rise of 164% on 2016.

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George Bradley, general manager, said the first two months of the year were traditionally the busiest.

'What's different about this year, though, is that against a backdrop of a weak pound, concerns about the safety of flying to foreign destinations and the fact that holiday lettings represent one of the best-value holidays money can buy, 2017 is destined to be the year of the staycation,' he said.

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He added that a continued surge in people booking larger properties supported a trend toward 'multi-generational' holidays.

Meanwhile, self-catering giant Hoseasons, based in Lowestoft, saw a 17% jump in bookings in the first week of January compared to 2016, itself a record-breaking year.

The trend was mirrored across the country, as January 8 became the firm's best sales day ever – with bookings at its lodges and parks up 27% and 21% for its range of activity breaks.

Simon Altham, Hoseasons managing director, said: 'Everybody knows that 2017 is shaping up to be a year of uncertainty, but the clear trend for us has been people moving early to guarantee their getaway and take advantage of some great value deals.'

Mr Altham said a marketing push over the New Year had spurred on the bookings, and that investment in technology had simplified the booking process.

For James Knight at Waveney River Centre bookings were up 30% year-on-year as of Tuesday.

'It's been a brilliant start to the year,' he said. 'But what we are seeing is that people aren't just booking summer holidays early on, but they are booking for January and February.

'Almost every day we are taking bookings for all months of the year.'

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