Agents are seeing up to a 35% hike in bookings for Easter as customers take advantage of the extra bank holiday for the royal wedding and cheaper prices than for summer breaks.
The wedding hit the headlines this week as Prince William named his brother Harry as best man and Kate Middleton asked her sister Pippa to be maid of honour at the Westminster Abbey ceremony on April 29.
Despite the hype, it appears many Britons are more interested in taking advantage of the two successive four-day weekends created by Easter and the extra bank holiday.
Thomas Cook bookings in the last four weeks for April were 35% up year on year, with the Canaries proving a popular choice. Chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said: “With Easter and the royal wedding combined, many people are bridging the three days between bank holiday weekends to extend their holiday and we’re seeing increased demand.”
Travel Counsellors reported a 30% hike in bookings taken in January for travel between April 22 and May 6.
“We are certainly seeing a shift back to European destinations as sterling gains against the euro, with prices in Spain at a record three-year low, making it much more affordable,” said managing director Steve Byrne.
Francesca Ecsery, global sales director at Cheapflights, said its UK site attracted an all-time record number of visitors last month, with users tending to search for flights in spring rather than summer.
“A lot of people are looking and buying for the second quarter because it’s cheaper,” she said. “Prices are more expensive in the summer and that is turning people off.”
Ecsery estimated prices for this summer were about 15% up on last year. “You have operators and airlines playing yield games, and of course [the rise in] Air Passenger Duty,” she added.
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