Travel agents hail 2020 domestic sales opportunity

Travel agents have hailed the opportunity to promote 2020 as ‘the year of domestic tourism’ and capitalise on UK sales as uncertainty remains over the possibility of overseas holidays.

Some warned it would take a collaborative effort and called for support from operators and a national marketing campaign.

MoreComment: The trade needs more support from domestic operators

Tour operators, holiday parks and hotels plan to open with social distancing and health and safety measures from July, while VisitBritain has made a case to extend the UK holiday season until October and for a bank holiday to be added that month.

Haven’s no-frills Haven Hideaway breaks start from July, while Great Little Breaks is to make its agent portal live in June.

Writing in this week’s Travel Weekly, Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson noted “inevitable demand” for UK breaks over the coming years, but said: “Some operators have turned away from the trade. At a time when we should be pulling together, this is really frustrating.”

She told UK operators: “There’s a real opportunity to work together to deliver new experiences and alternative options for our customers.”

Westoe Travel director Graeme Brett said now was the time for a national marketing campaign to promote UK breaks and called on VisitBritain to work with the trade. “It would help all of us,” he said, adding that it was critical operators such as Hoseasons, which stopped taking new trade bookings last month to focus on existing bookings, allowed agents to book.

The plea for a collaborative effort came as VisitBritain called for clarity on how the government would support the domestic sector.

Acting chief executive Patricia Yates declared 2020 as ‘the year of domestic tourism’ but told MPs on Tuesday: “There is a real job to be done in convincing people that it is socially responsible to travel and that it is safe to do so.”

VisitBritain predicts the £80 billion domestic tourism industry, spanning holidays and day visits, will suffer a £22 billion drop this year.

Its latest domestic tourism research on travel intentions this year showed 74% of UK consumers with a holiday booked between July and September believed their holiday would not go ahead and only 19% of people were “talking about booking domestic holidays for the summer”.

MoreComment: The trade needs more support from domestic operators

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