By Juliet Dennis and Samantha Mayling
Domestic operators have reported a return to pre-pandemic sales levels for UK holidays amid a lack of clarity on overseas travel and strong agent support.
In some cases, domestic sales have surpassed 2019, with many operators adding capacity as holidays sell out. June, July and August are the top departure months, with seaside resorts most in demand.
Hoseasons predicted “a year like no other”, with 2021 bookings up 22% on the same point in 2019, itself a record year, and bookings for July and August up 61% on two years ago.
It said trade bookings for some periods had rocketed by even more – up 203% for October and 310% for 2022, both on 2019.
Simon Altham, group chief commercial officer at Hoseasons parent Awaze, said: “These figures show two things: first, the lack of clarity over foreign travel is seeing people opt for the UK; and, second, that agents have been doing a fantastic job of selling our breaks.”
Leger Shearings Group reported “very strong” UK bookings for this summer and beyond, and a “significant spike” following February’s roadmap announcement, including two record days.
Chief executive Liam Race said: “Momentum hasn’t waned, and sales over the last six weeks have been the equivalent of the pre-pandemic traditional booking peak months of January and early February.”
Great Little Breaks said its revenue was up 25% week on week when agencies reopened. Trade relations director Chris Cundall said: “It is totally justifying our decision to work with retail partners.”
Operators also reported a later booking trend, with clients keen to get away once restrictions lift on May 17.
National Holidays and Just Go! Holidays parent The JG Travel Group said 65% of bookings last week were for up to August. Sales and yield director Matthew Herbert said: “It’s important for agents to bear this in mind when creating sales messages.”
Capacity has been added as tours have sold out, including by Travel Corporation brands Insight Vacations and Contiki. Sales and marketing director Donna Jeavons said: “Given domestic accommodation is scarce this summer, lots of people are opting for a touring holiday in the UK.”
The Short Term Accommodation Association reported “significant growth” in UK self-catering rentals. Chair Merilee Karr, chief executive of luxury holiday rentals platform UnderTheDoormat, reported a “marked increase” in the number of “innovative” agents booking via her company’s website.