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Trade continues to report sales boost after roadmap announcement

Airlines, agents and operators continued to report increased sales and enquiries on Tuesday following the prime minister’s lockdown roadmap announcement on Monday.

Subject to progress being made on a series of measures, domestic breaks in self-contained accommodation are scheduled to resume from April 12 while May 17 is the earliest date from which overseas holidays can start again.

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays reported a “dramatic” spike as bookings increased by 1,000% in the 24 hours after the announcement.

Popular destinations include Spain and its islands, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and there was a notable increase in bookings from July, which continues through the rest of the school holidays and summer 2021.

However, with the May 17 date fixed as the earliest for international travel, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have extended the suspension of flights and holidays to May 16.

Steve Heapy, chief executive, said: “We have seen enormous pent-up demand from British holidaymakers for some time, with people wanting nothing more than to get away to the sunshine and enjoy their well-deserved holidays.

“The government’s announcement is the news they have been longing for, and the continued surge in bookings shows how ready our customers are to get away to the sunshine on a real package holiday.”

He added: “We are very pleased that the government has shown a clear ambition to reopen international travel in the coming months, and we look forward to more detail in due course.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have done absolutely everything to look after our valued customers and independent travel agent partners, and we have always said that the sun will shine for them once again.

“We know what an incredibly difficult time it has been for everyone, and we very much look forward to taking everyone from our rainy islands to their dream holiday choice this summer and beyond.”

Aito, the Specialist Travel Association, said its members had seen website activity surge overnight – and warned demand may outstrip supply.

Chairman Chris Rowles also said proof of vaccination and affordable testing must be high on the agenda for the reconvened Global Travel Taskforce.

“We have no concerns whatever about countries welcoming British visitors again. Already many of the key European destinations have stated that they look forward to tourism restarting; their economies depend hugely upon British travellers,” he said.

Rowles also reiterated industry calls for sector-specific support from the chancellor in his Budget next week.

Liam Race, chief executive at Leger Shearings Group, said: “We are on track for a record sales day for the business. Sales are already +220% against the same day last year.

“Sales have been incredible, we literally can’t answer the volume of calls we are receiving and we have drafted staff in from other areas of the business to try and attempt to answer them as quickly as possible. We have also extended our opening hours to 8pm Monday- Friday and have doubled our phone line capacity for concurrent calls.”

He added: “What is also interesting is that of the customers who have contacted us today because they had bookings prior to May 17, 87% have decided to rebook rather than cancel – people are excited to have a holiday booked and to look forward to.”

Joe Ponte, chief executive of Inghams parent Hotelplan UK, said: “Inghams customers already take much reassurance from our In Safe Hands promise and continue to book safe in the knowledge that should overseas holidays not be able to go ahead this summer, we will offer them the choice of moving their holiday to a later date or a full refund.

“That said, yesterday’s plan can only bring further booking confidence for summer holidays, potentially from mid-May onwards.”

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