Operators reported a strong start to the year despite fears that imminent price rises could hit sales.
Classic Collection reported one of its best-ever sales days last Friday and head of marketing Vanda Bauer said: “We expect the next six to eight weeks to be our best ever.
“People couldn’t get what they wanted last year and don’t want to go to the eastern Mediterranean so they’re booking early. Hoteliers are not offering deals because they don’t need to.”
Aito chairman Derek Moore said: “If people can afford it, they are booking. The savvy ones have worked out there will be capacity problems.”
Sunvil Holidays managing director Chris Wright said: “Greece seems to have had a real bounce.”
However, Moore forecast prices could rise 12%-15% this summer, with many operators repricing programmes following the expiry of hedging deals, which mitigated the impact of the weaker pound.
“Hedging is coming to an end for many operators and they need to reprice,” he said.
Moore warned the government’s plan to begin the Brexit process in March could further weaken sterling.
The shortened first week of 2017, with most retail agents closed New Year’s Day and Monday January 2, meant analyst GfK’s figures for the week showed an 8% fall in summer bookings year on year.
But season-to-date bookings remained 7% up, with bookings to Spain up 11%. Almost two-thirds of the passenger growth for summer 2017 to date is for Spain.
Travel Weekly will provide a weekly update on the latest GfK figures throughout the peak booking season.
Peaks watch – Latest bookings data from GfK to January 7
Summer 2017 season to date
+7% in bookings year on year
+11% Increase to Spain year on year:
+2% change in direct bookings in week to Saturday, January 7 on comparable week 2016
-8% change in total bookings on comparable week 2016:
Winter 2016-17 season to date
+10% change in bookings year on year:
* Most shops were closed for two days at start of 2017, but open on the comparable week in 2016.
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