Not Just Travel boss Steve Witt has urged agents to encourage early bookings, before holidaymakers in other European markets start to organise their trips.

Resort hotels may offer lower capacity because of social distancing and large numbers of cancelled holidays from 2020 have been rearranged for 2021, he added.

Steve Witt, co-founder of the homeworking company – which has more than 800 homeworker agents – said: “There will be reduced capacity for those people holidaying this year.

“It will probably take another year for the industry to get back to normal capacity.

“A lot of holiday bookings from last year have rolled over to this year, so some availability is already slim.

“Normally that would sound like a sales tactic, but this year it really is the reality.”

He also highlighted how many airlines have temporarily closed routes and reduced capacity.

“With the travel rush taking place in this country and expected to increase over the next few months, and other countries like France, Germany and Switzerland filled with tourists eager to book as soon as possible, overseas holidays will experience a gold rush this summer,” he said.

“It really is a case of booking early before everyone in Europe does too.”

He added: “The likes of Greece, Turkey, the Canaries and the Balearics rely heavily on British tourism and so will be looking to invite British tourists back as soon as possible.

“We may have been slow to lock down in the UK, but we have been fast to vaccinate.

“UAE is currently on the red list, but as they have already vaccinated nearly 60% of their population, we predict that they will be the first country that the UK government will allow travel to.”

Last Tuesday (February 23) was the company’s busiest selling day this year, coming after the government’s announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Greece, Spain, the UK, UAE, Mexico, US, Cyprus and Italy have been the most popular destinations.

Witt said booking conditions are far more flexible than pre-pandemic times.

Despite the surge in bookings, he reiterated the need for government support in this week’s Budget to keep the sector afloat – such as extending furlough to avoid widespread job losses.

“We are hoping for some bespoke help for the travel industry,” he added.

“Steps to help small businesses manage cash flow would go a long way to help…an additional deferral of VAT payments would be a big boost.”