More than a quarter of rail holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel’s capacity for 2021 has been sold prior to new tiered restrictions being announced across the North and Midlands.

But the operator warned that uncertain timeframes of the three tier lockdown measures will divert people’s attention from planning for the future to surviving day-by-day and forward bookings will once again reduce to a “trickle” of enquiries.

Bookings for travel next year accounted for 27% of its 2021 capacity prior to the announcement by Boris Johnson of the new rules being imposed.

General manager Maria Cook said: “Given the difficult circumstances we are operating in, we were encouraged by this.

“But Boris’ update is likely to be a devastating blow for travel companies once again, as the public are likely to put booking a holiday on hold.”

She added: “It was encouraging that people had started booking for next year. We were feeling optimistic.

“The forward bookings had indicated people really want something to look forward to.

“The latest announcement, however, will worry that the nation and people cannot plan.

“We do offer our customer the added reassurance that if their holiday is cancelled they will promptly receive a full refund but we think people will start holding off booking once again.”

While the majority of 2021 bookings made are from repeat customers, Ffestiniog Travel said positive word-of-mouth recommendations was also attracting newcomers to the brand.

Escorted rail tours to Italy, Albania and Romania have generated the most interest, supporting industry forecasts that European tours are picking up ahead of long-haul travel.