Tour operators have accused airlines and hoteliers of hiking up prices for 2021 to a point where customers are more likely to cancel than rebook.

Premier Holidays said airline fares for next year were in many cases higher than customers had paid this year while Caribtours said Caribbean hoteliers’ prices were unrealistic and not based on forward booking predictions in the post-pandemic travel market.

Caribtours chief executive Paul Cleary said his firm was already contacting its hotel partners and urging them to reduce prices. If not, he fears clients will simply cancel.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly Webcast, Cleary said: “They [hotels] are still working on 2021 rates which were set three months ago.

“We are going to every single hotel with every past booking that’s on credit note to say, you need to do the right thing. Agents will not swallow that [price]; they will turn into refunds very quickly.”

The hotel element can make up around 60% of the cost within a Caribtours’ booking, which has an average value of £10,500.

But Cleary felt confident hoteliers would respond. He said: “I have every faith that, with enough negotiating by people like us, there will be a recalibration of those rates.

“But at the moment it’s clearly a very difficult message to say to someone ‘your holiday that was £10,000 last month, that you were going to go on, is now £12,000′.”

Premier Holidays director of sales and marketing Debbie Goffin said the price of the airline fare was proving to be the challenging part of the re-booking process for tailormade holidays.

She said: “We’re getting some amazing deals on the ground, especially in the Channel Islands and the Far East which will help re-bookings.

“[But] in many cases, the airline prices are more than people have paid this year. So that is definitely going to be a challenge.

“In time that might even out, but at the moment, we can only go with the prices that are in the system.”

In contrast, USAirtours said so far it had not seen price hikes for its core US market.

Chief executive Guy Novik was confident international visitors would be welcomed back to the US.

He said: “In the past where there’s been big challenges like 9/11 in the US, the US domestic market has tended to stay at home.

“The fact they didn’t travel within the US boundaries made hoteliers and other ground suppliers even more dependent on international business. And I don’t see that changing.

“I think the Americans will probably stay at home and international tour operators will be extremely welcome into the US once we can fly there.”

7MayBanner