Midcounties Co-operative’s homeworkers have reported a substantial rise in UK bookings for this summer.

The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel saw a week-on-week increase in staycation bookings for the week ending June 26 of 263% for departures this month (July) and of 145% for August departures.

The biggest increase for the group’s 170-plus homeworkers was for September 2020 bookings – with bookings up 550% in comparison with the week ending June 19.

Sheena Whittle, head of the The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel, part of Midcounties Co-operative, said: “As soon as the government announced that hotels, restaurants, pubs and  attractions could open from 4 July, and that people living in England could travel around the country more freely from this date, our agents saw a significant spike in demand for summer 2020 UK breaks.”

Most summer 2020 bookings are for remote lodges or individual holiday home rentals to cater for social distancing, said Whittle.

She said: “Customers are keen to travel, but cautious too, so we’re finding that properties which allow for social distancing are booming.

“The majority of the UK summer 2020 bookings our agents are receiving are for lodges in more remote destinations or for individual holiday home rentals.”

One of the best-sold operators for this summer is Hoseasons; its sales through the homeworkers are up by 493% on the same week last year.

Whittle added: “We’re really pleased to see the surge in UK bookings and that there is so much appetite for the many different holiday experiences our own country has to offer.

“We are optimistic about sales of holidays further afield too. Overall, sales of holidays departing this year increased by 154% last week, compared with week ending June 19 and sales for 2021 saw a week on week rise of 142%.”

The news of the spike in staycations comes as UK operators report a similar surge. Operators said they were tapping into increased demand from the trade.

Hoseasons has reported “record-breaking” demand in the last week, which comes after it temporarily stopped taking new agent sales in April and May,.

Sally Henry, sales director at Hoseasons parent company Awaze UK, said: “Sales through agents are up 89% year on year since Boris made his announcement on June 23, which was our best booking day of the year.”

She also noted a “significant shift” to cottage bookings. “These have always been available to our agency partners, but are selling particularly well at the moment,” Henry added.

Meanwhile, Cosmos said it was aiming to raise awareness among agents of its UK and Ireland range of tours, which are normally 95% filled by US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand holidaymakers.

Managing director Giles Hawke said: “We’re seeing more demand than before [from UK agents] but we have a job to do to educate agents on what we’ve got in the Cosmos and Globus product ranges.”

Cosmos Tours and Globus Escapes trips restart in September. Hawke said: “It is unrealistic we’ll fill all our tours from the UK but there is a big earning and learning opportunity for agents. A lot may have sold Shearings tours, or not sold UK tours at all.”

Agents said the spike in demand for staycations is being accompanied by a need for reassurances from travel companies about security and safety.

The current top-selling agent at The Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel, Ginette Steele, who won UK Ambassador Award at the Travel Brit Awards 2018, said customers’ main concern was whether their money was secure and their accommodation was safe, rather than facilities, as many would not be open.

She said: “The question everyone asks, and which is without doubt the most important factor to all my clients, is “will my money be safe?”. To sell to them, I need to show that, should problems arise, their holiday dates can be moved or I can secure a refund for them.

“The overarching trend I see is that if customers feel reassured the accommodation is safe and their money is protected, there is a strong desire to head to the UK’s beautiful coastline or countryside, to spend quality time as a small unit of family or friends, and to explore local things to do.”