Agents are admitting to a deep uncertainty about the prospects for the traditional new year peak booking period in the wake of the Covid crisis.

Only 5% expect the historically busiest booking period to resemble previous years, a trade survey by Gold Medal revealed.

The overwhelming majority expect the first months of 2021 to be quieter and for bookings to remain low.

Eight out of 10 respondents have not seen any late surge of demand for 2020 holidays, and three quarters said customers with existing bookings are expressing anxiety about travelling and are asking about alternatives.

Agents are focusing their efforts on promoting the Indian Ocean at 80%, followed by the Caribbean (79%), and Dubai and Arabia (66%).

Half indicated they were promoting packages as far ahead as 2022.

Gold Medal is to push ahead with issuing its campaign material for the peak sales period despite the new year uncertainty.

The range of assets will include social media offers and content, a digital worldwide sales brochure that agents can overbrand, a worldwide travel magazine and a ‘Little Book of Incredible Journeys’.

New Gold Medal branding will feature alongside that of Pure Luxury, Cruise Plus and Incredible Journeys.

They will be available throughout January and February and be shared with agents across the country.

Gold Medal marketing director Kerry Gallagher said: “After the challenges our industry has experienced this year, and the tough times agents have had in trying to overcome consumer negativity about travel, it’s no surprise that they’re pessimistic about peaks.

“But it’s our job to ensure they’re as well equipped as possible to make the most of any enquiry they get.

“We know there is demand out there – our survey said that almost 90% are seeing interest in summer 2021 departures – so we want to make sure they’re ready to react when the picture for travel clears.

“We pride ourselves on not only being the best for value, but also for expertise and service.

“We’re in the process of securing exclusive added value offers, such as free room and board upgrades, across a number of long haul destinations. With agents so challenged, it’s never been more important for us to support them.”