Booking volumes for the peak summer holiday period are starting to pick up as destinations prepare to welcome back British tourists.

Trade sales have steadily increased since the prime minister’s February 22 roadmap announcement, while the Canary Islands, Greece and Cyprus are among destinations to have set out plans to reopen this summer.

Agents and operators reported the start of a shift to peak summer sales, although the majority of bookings are still for later in the year or 2022.
Advantage Travel Partnership said 21% of members’ bookings from March 1-7 were for June-August departures, with Spain, Greece and Turkey the most popular destinations. Of last week’s bookings, 49% were for 2022-23 departures.

Leisure director Kelly Cookes said: “We are seeing volumes for the summer starting to increase.”

She attributed increased demand to “announcements from various destinations wanting to welcome British travellers back this summer, combined with the UK’s vaccination rollout and the plan for lockdown restrictions to ease”.

Miniples said demand was mainly for August onwards.

Polka Dot Travel director Mark Johnson said clients were “desperate to get away” and “more optimistic”, although Premier Travel director Paul Waters stressed holidaymakers would not book for earlier than August until they knew “how the government will unlock overseas travel”.

Designer Travel managing director Amanda Matthews reported a shift in sales to July and August from later this year and 2022. She said: “We think now kids are back in school, the family market will start booking for this summer.”

Olympic Holidays said agents had been booking late May and June but reported “much stronger demand from July onwards”.

But Spear Travels chairman Peter Cookson warned summer holidays could be “in short supply and prices high” because of bookings held over from last year and a restricted number of destinations on sale.

Many remained cautious about promoting early summer departures.

Spires Travel manager Paul Knapper was “hesitant” to take bookings for travel in the next three to four months, while Protected Trust Services said most members were “erring on the side of caution for May”.

Kuoni said it was not pushing early summer sales, while Premier Holidays said consumer confidence closer to May 17 focused on places such as the Isles of Scilly and Jersey.