Holiday goldrush but people delay booking trips abroad
- Credit: Hoseasons
East Anglian holiday giant Hoseasons has sold 10,000 UK breaks after Boris Johnson issued his lockdown easing roadmap.
Immediately after the prime minister’s statement in the House of Commons, the firm smashed all previous records with one booking every second as people scrambled to secure a getaway.
It came as self-catering holidays in the UK were given a cautious go-ahead from April 12.
But it was a very different picture for travel agents selling foreign holidays. Although airlines reported an increase in flight bookings in the hours after the announcement, the lack of a firm date for when people can take a holiday abroad seemed to have deterred many.
Nicholas Lee, who runs the independent firm Broadland Travel in North Walsham, was very downbeat.
He only dealt with cancellations as a result of the announcement because the government had banned foreign travel until May 17 at the earliest.
"I'm going to run out of money, I need income to keep going," he said. "People aren't champing at the bit. With moving holidays booked to this year, it's not new revenue for me. I've had one booking which was made four years ago to travel last year which I've now had to move four times.
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"It's cost me more in associated costs to do with booking than the cost of the actual holiday.
"I just haven't had any income and after Boris Johnson saying he wouldn't do anything until May, people are deciding not to book a trip abroad until at least May which is actually towards the end of the booking season for this year."
Another foreign holiday agent Rachel Garnish, who runs her own firm RG Travel in Norfolk, agreed there was no immediate bounce but was confident at the future.
She said: "It is going to get better, Spain and Greece are going to be big as they really want us back so there are going to be some good offers and then the Caribbean and Indian Ocean for later this year."
Meanwhile, UK holidays were seeing a real surge. Center Parcs, with a resort at Elveden, near Thetford, welcomed bookings in its self-catering lodges from April 12 but stated its hotels and apartments would not be open.
Simon Altham, group chief commercial officer at Hoseasons' parent company Awaze based in Oulton Broad near Lowestoft, said: "We welcome the roadmap from the government, which gives holidaymakers and property owners in England clarity over taking and enjoying a staycation this year.
“Last year following similar announcements we saw bookings peak at one every 11 seconds, but this time demand has exceeded our expectations and comfortably broken that record. It is clear that Brits are desperate to get away, and now have the clarity and confidence to book. This will be welcome news for many businesses that rely on tourism.
“Most of all we look forward to welcoming our customers back and playing our part in helping them experience and enjoy a well-earned break following an incredibly tough year."