Portugal has emerged the clear winner as the most popular place to search for a summer package holiday in the wake of the government’s green list announcement.
Almost a third (29%) of all package comparison searches were for holidays to the country, with the Algarve dominating, followed by Madeira and Lisbon, according to TravelSupermarket.
The news came as Tui ramped up capacity with new flights from Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol to Madeira and the Portuguese Algarve this summer.
EasyJet holidays further enhanced its Covid commitments for travel this summer to allow fee free changes to be made to holidays where the destination is on the amber list up to 24 hours before travel.
However, searches on TravelSupermarket for holidays to Turkey and Maldives both fell by 28% as they were placed on the red list when the international travel ban in lifted in a week’s time.
The share of search for Spain dropped from 17% to 9% and Greece 9% to 5%, pretty much halving between Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday on the back of the green list announcement.
The site’s Emma Coulthurst said: “Hopefully, the Canary Islands and some of the Greek islands such as Crete and Kos, which have little virus incidence and are advanced with vaccinations, will make the green list soon. We expect to see a rush on Greek and Spanish escapes when this happens.”
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays confirmed that it will stick to its delayed resumption of flights and holidays on June 24 despite a surge in bookings to Portugal.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said: “We have seen enormous pent-up demand from holidaymakers for some time now, and this rush of bookings to Portugal just shows how ready people are to get away from the gloom to escape to the sunshine.
“We’re ready and raring to go from 24th June, with our teams looking forward to welcoming customers and delivering our award-winning customer service again.
“Although more cautious in approach than expected, the UK government has demonstrated that it wants to reopen travel, and we look forward to further positive news about where we can fly to in the coming weeks.”
Garry Wilson, chief executive of easyJet holidays, said: “We’re looking forward to sending our customers away again on 17 May, and that will make us one of the first major tour operators to restart travel. We want to provide as much flexibility and choice as we can so customers can make the right decision about their holiday, so we’re really pleased to have further enhanced what we’re able to offer this summer.
“We want to see many more countries on our green list so, as the vaccination programme continues to be so successful, we look forward to the reviews and hearing more about continued government plans to make testing easier and more affordable.”
Homeworking agency group Not Just Travel reported that Portugal was its top-selling destination the 24 hours after it became the only mainstream overseas destination to be granted green status. The country accounted for 15% of bookings and 20% of revenue.
Booking trends show consumers have strong confidence that more destinations will open up over the next few weeks, the company added.