Holidaymakers are more likely to book with a travel professional and book a package holiday than prior to the pandemic, according to new research from Abta.

The research, which surveyed 500 consumers at the end of February 2021, comes ahead of the prime minister’s announcement on April 5 on the government’s plans to allow international travel to resume.

It showed almost a third (28%) of respondents were more likely to use a travel professional, such as a travel agent, now than they were pre-Covid-19.

The main reasons for choosing a professional were the importance of feeling protected and reassured, with 50% saying they would book with an agent because of the security of a package holiday. This was followed by trust in the travel companies to look after them (48%) and the professional’s up-to-date travel advice (42%).

Similarly, around a third (31%) of holidaymakers were more likely to book a package holiday than before the pandemic.

The main reason for this was to ensure they were looked after if something went wrong, cited by 51% of respondents, and for financial protection (49%). Holidaymakers who book a package have a right to a replacement holiday or refund if the holiday is significantly altered by a change in the situation in destination.

Abta said the research highlighted a growing trend this year for consumers to seek security and reassurance from booking a package with a travel agent, adding that members were already reporting enquiries from new clients who have not booked with them before.

The survey also showed holidaymakers remained keen to travel abroad with 63% saying they hoped to book a holiday overseas in the next six months or longer.

Graeme Buck, Abta’s director of communications, said: “Travel professionals and package holidays have an important role to play in helping people feel reassured and confident to book and travel this year, and we’re seeing more and more people turning to them as they plan their holidays.

“Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of uncertainty around international travel, with holidays having to be changed or postponed, but there is a lot of pent-up demand for holidays.

“People are increasingly recognising that they can get great value for money, added protection and the benefit of having someone else plan their holiday or make changes if needed further down the line.”