Travel companies welcome holiday bookings surge following travel update

The UK’s airlines and tour operators have seen a wave of bookings interest from holidaymakers following yesterday’s announcement that testing rules will be eased from tomorrow.

In the wake of the travel update, Jet2’s Steve Heapy spoke of a “massive surge” in bookings, while tour operator Kuoni reported “a noticeable jump overnight in calls to Kuoni shops and call centre”, including confirmed bookings for trips worth upwards of £30,000.

Meanwhile, on the evening of the announcement Skyscanner saw an 81 per cent increase in the usual number of visits to the site at 8pm, week-on-week.

According to British Airways Holidays, searches for holidays increased by nearly 40 per cent compared to the week before.

“People who have already asked for quotes and may have been hesitating about booking, now have confidence to book,” Kuoni’s sales director told The Independent.

Package website HolidayPirates also saw a surge in traffic yesterday, with visitors almost double the recent average, according to the website’s head of market for the UK and North America, Phil Salcedo.

The chief executive of Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, said the easing of testing rules would be a “massive boost” for the industry at a “critical time”.

“People will now be able to book knowing that – for the fully vaccinated – all emergency testing restrictions have been removed,” he said.

“Today marks an important step towards learning to live alongside the virus, helping passengers and the travel sector look ahead to what will be an all-important spring and summer season.”

Derek Jones, CEO of Kuoni, called the decision “the beginning of the end of Covid as a blocker to international travel”, saying: “I predict travel will be 90 per cent back to 2019 levels before the end of spring.”

However, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has urged consumers to be careful about financial protection when rushing to book trips.

Earlier today the travel body issued a reminder to customers about the benefits of booking Atol-protected trips.

“With travel companies offering a multitude of offers and deals ahead of what is expected to be one of the busiest weekends of the year for holiday bookings, the UK Civil Aviation Authority is urging consumers to be travel savvy when planning trips for 2022 by booking Atol-protected holidays and looking out for hidden costs,” it said in a statement.

Michael Budge, the CAA’s head of Atol, said: “This weekend, typically known as ‘Sunshine Saturday’, is traditionally the busiest time of the year for people booking their holidays, and with travel restrictions easing, many consumers will be taking advantage of bargain deals, but could be missing out on key financial protection.”