Travel sites swamped as Brits crave holidays in the sun

holidayThe travel industry has witnessed a huge surge in bookings since the Government revealed its “road map” out of lockdown, with Britain’s largest tour operator Tui reporting a 500% increase in international bookings overnight.

Despite Boris Johnson insisting that international travel would not be allowed until mid-May at the earliest, Tui customers were grabbing holidays for July-onwards, with Greece, Spain and Turkey the most popular destinations.

Meanwhile, Awaze, which owns UK-based holiday firms Hoseasons and Cottages.com, said it has sold a record 10,000 breaks.

Group chief commercial officer Simon Altham said: “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.”

Tui has said that anyone booked to travel between May 17 and the end of June can change their booking to a later date without a fee if the situation changes.

And Thomas Cook, which is now an online only business following 2019’s collapse, said traffic to its website was up over 100% on Monday, with bookings “flooding in” for countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Chief executive Alan French said: “The Government’s announcement is good news for those of us desperate to get away on holiday. While we await more details, it’s clear that the Government’s ambition is to open up international travel in the coming months and hopefully in time for the summer holidays.”

EasyJet also reported a 337% rise in flight bookings and a 630% jump in holiday bookings for locations such as Alicante, Malaga, Palmo, Faro and Crete, with chief executive Johan Lundgren saying the road map had “provided a much-needed boost in confidence” for its UK customers.

“We have consistently seen that there is pent up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for,” he said.

The Advertising Association has also chipped in, with CEO Stephen Woodford insisting the ad industry is “ready to do everything it can to support the economic and social recovery, through work that delivers vital public health messages and support to businesses that drives growth, creates jobs and helps rebuild consumer confidence”.

However, he cautioned: “It is clear that more help will be needed to support all businesses through this next period. For example, we ask the Government to look again at what can be done to help businesses that have so far not received any business rates relief or other reliefs.

“We are acutely aware there are parts of our industry, such as cinema advertising which has been completely shut down for virtually a year and the outdoor advertising sector which has been deeply impacted by the loss of business caused by the pandemic. More can be done to ensure all parts of our industry are supported so they can return fully-functional at the earliest opportunity.”

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