Older holidaymakers are booking ‘revenge tourism’ holidays such as safaris and cruises – as well as closer-to-home options, industry bosses told a Travel Weekly webcast.
National newspapers and TV channels reported last week how firms catering to the over-50s are seeing a surge in bookings thanks to the deployment of vaccines.
And the Aito Agents conference earlier this month heard how consumers are booking high-value holidays to “take revenge” on coronavirus.
Talking on the webcast about mature tourism, Debbie Marshall, Silver Travel Advisor managing director, said the national media reports included figures from the likes of Scott Dunn, Sunvil and Tui, as well as the coach package holiday division of National Express.
“There are four million people vaccinated, that is really what is driving it,” she said.
“People are saying, ‘I’ve got my vaccine and now I want to pack my bags and go somewhere, anywhere’.”
Paul Hardwick, head of commercial at Fred Olsen Travel, added: “We’re seeing revenge tourism: they feel like they’ve missed out on a whole year and they don’t just want to do one thing.
“The pent-up demand out there is unbelievable, at the moment from everything we hear from customers is they are desperate to book.”
Iain Powell, head of trade sales and third-party cruise at Saga, is seeing cruise and long-haul sales to destinations in Africa doing particularly well.
“We’ve launched a Great Migration tour, which is now one of our best sellers,” he said.
“Even for the back end of 2021, we are seeing people quite willing to go long-haul and to venture out a little bit further afield.
“In terms of our cruise, we are seeing 2021 performing exceptionally well.”
Marshall said her website is seeing growing confidence for long-haul trips in 2022 and even 2023.
About 30% say they will book a UK break for their next trip; 40% say Europe and just under 20% say long-haul, she said.
“It’s natural, especially if you’re feeling cautious about things like medical facilities, to start somewhere that feels safer, and then gradually go out.
“It’s great to see so many travel companies that have responded over the last few months with UK programmes, being really innovative.”
Stuart Milan, channel director at Riviera Travel, added: “We’ve actually seen just constant week-on-week growth since December.
“The real uptick is from those aged 65-plus, and those guys in the last seven days have been the ones to really push through and confirm their bookings.”
Riviera has doubled the size of its new UK touring programme because of the demand and has almost completely sold out its Scottish tour.
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