Welsh travel agencies optimistic about trading after strong first day back

Travel agencies in Wales are optimistic about trading after re-opening their stores following the country’s 17-day lockdown.

Agencies reported strong demand on their first day back trading on the high street.

Non-essential retailers in Wales were allowed to re-open on Monday, November 9, after the ‘firebreak’ lockdown. Tui was among those to re-open its 14 branches in Wales.

Miles Morgan Travel owner Miles Morgan said he expected business to return to pre-lockdown levels after opening his three stores in Wales.

Matthew Sutton, owner of two-branch agency Travel With Matthew, which specialises in domestic travel breaks, said the first day back had seen stronger than expected footfall.

He said: “It’s lovely to be back open and to see customers coming in who are happy to make bookings. We were hoping it would be this busy but we didn’t expect it.

“We have had a lot of bookings today for Tenby and Llandudno as people are allowed to travel within Wales; we have our first booking departing on November 20.”

Sam Smith Travel sales and commercial manager Suzanne Cumpston said staff at the Cowbridge agency (pictured in 2019) had worked hard from home to maintain sales in the last two weeks and was reaping the rewards of its efforts.

She said: “I’m pleased with business.  We are busy but working hard to create that; it’s not certainly just landing in our laps. I also expect footfall to increase within the next few weeks quite dramatically.

“This afternoon’s news of a possible vaccine is a ray of light and it’s only going to get busier as consumers confidence is restored. We have got to the stage where people are really quite fed up and desperately need something to look forward to, therefore we’re taking a fair amount of bookings for advance seasons. Operators with 2022 on sale are getting the benefits.”

She added: “I’m pleased to say we’ve just confirmed a group booking for £20,000 today. We have booked quite a lot of holidays for the Maldives and interest for the US has also returned; the halo effect perhaps from Joe Biden’s presidential win.”

Cumpston said she expected holiday prices to rise in future if the recovery improved as operators would need to recoup costs, but also urged large operators such as Tui and easyJet Holidays to put more focus on highlighting the safety measures in place for travel in the Covid era. Reassurance was essential to build confidence at this crucial time, she said.

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