Overseas bookings for this summer have almost dried up as clients wait to hear about the government’s roadmap out of Covid-19, according to the trade.
Some clients had even cancelled or postponed summer bookings ahead of the prime minister’s statement on Monday, said agents, who blamed recent government comments and posters for the downturn.
The sentiments were echoed in a YouGov poll of more than 5,000 UK adults on February 11 which found just 5% were confident of travelling overseas this summer. The survey followed several declarations by ministers that it is “illegal to travel now” and “too soon to book”.
But agents said consumers have continued to book for autumn onwards, backing the findings of a January study by Mintel which showed one in three people intend to take an overseas holiday this year.
Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson said: “Winter 2021 and summer 2022 are by far dominating demand for holidays.
“There is no demand right now for booking summer 2021. Customers still want to travel but are holding off until there are more details about how lockdown restrictions may be eased.”
Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan said his agency chain had made only “one or two” bookings for summer in the last week, adding: “The public has been told to wait, so most bookings are for 2022.”
Tivoli Travel director Jo Richards said: “I’ve been surprised about sales for November onwards. I’m doing a group ski booking and bookings for the Maldives and Vietnam, but there’s nothing coming in for Europe for this summer. Everyone is waiting for Boris’s announcement.”
Henbury Travel has taken some domestic bookings for early summer but more for next winter or 2022.
“We’re waiting for clarity,” said owner Richard Slater, whose letter to MP David Rutley to highlight it is “not illegal to book a holiday” has now been sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Advantage Travel Partnership leisure director Kelly Cookes said: “We’re continuing to see departure dates pushed back, with volumes starting to pick up from September.”
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