A “substantial and sustained” improvement in cross-channel ferry bookings is being claimed since the extension to the Brexit deadline.

Specialist booking platform Direct Ferries reported a 52% total increase in sales for routes across the channel in the past week.

Some routes have seen bookings double, while sales for the main Dover-Calais crossing rose by 55% in the last seven days over the same period last year.

The company has also seen a jump in inbound ferry bookings.

Direct Ferries chief marketing officer Niall Walsh said: “It’s been clear that customers have been holding back at beginning of the year and the formal confirmation of the delay has opened the bow doors.

“It’s evident that Brexit concerns and uncertainty have weighed on holidaymakers’ decisions.

“Now that the deadline has been put back, families have begun to plan and book in earnest.”

Walsh added: “In the early months of 2019, we saw rises in short visits and we attributed these to panic shopping trips prior to the approaching Brexit deadline.

“Now that the date has been put back towards the end of year, holidaymakers are making plans for European holidays in earnest.

“This is great news for the European tourism sector, ferry operators and holidaymakers alike.  We’re confident that a warm Easter holiday will also stoke demand.”