Travel companies report huge surge in summer vacation bookings as Covid rules ease

Holiday companies say they are preparing for a surge in summer bookings this weekend, with one predicting it will be the busiest ever.

Demand has already started to climb since the government announced the lifting of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers.

And now holiday sales are set to surge this weekend as they follow the first payday after Christmas for millions of British workers.

Simon Cooper, managing director of On the Beach, which launched in 2004, predicted it will be “the busiest we’ve ever been in our history”.

He told Mirror Online: ‘We expect it to be outstanding with people researching holidays throughout the month jumping and booking.’

The Greek islands, Turkey and Dubai are among the destinations selling strongly through the online giant.

Mr Cooper said bookings for Spain were ‘behind what they should be’ due to the requirement for all arrivals over the age of 12 to be fully vaccinated.

Tui, Britain’s biggest tour operator, has predicted its busiest weekend for bookings since the start of the pandemic.

Chief Marketing Officer Katie McAlister said the boost in confidence is “unleashing pent-up demand for sun holidays”.

She added: “The appetite for travel is stronger than ever.”

Helen Roberts, sales director at luxury travel company Kuoni, said sales had “regularly increased” recently, with the company producing many quotes for vacations “on the to-do list”.

“The easing of testing combined with a payday in January means many people will be ready to press the book button this weekend,” she said.

“Clients are ready to exert themselves and spend an unforgettable holiday.

Budget airlines easyJet reported this week that bookings to beach destinations were in high demand, led by Greece and Turkey.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “We expect a solid summer ahead.”

Vacation specialist for the over 50s, Saga, has also seen a surge in demand for its cruises.

Managing Director Euan Sutherland said: “While Omicron had an impact on travel bookings in December and January, our outlook for cruises in 2022/2023 and beyond is positive.”

Meanwhile, prices at many European ski resorts popular with British tourists have fallen, research reveals.

The overall cost of ski school, equipment hire, passes, meals and drinks is lower than last year in two-thirds of the resorts analyzed by Post Office Travel Money.

The report was produced in partnership with Crystal Ski Holidays, which says demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels following the easing of travel restrictions, notably by France.

The Port of Dover’s chief executive today warned of huge disruption to holidaymakers when new EU rules come into force in September.

British tourists could be affected by new biometric checks which should be compulsory at the border of the bloc.

If the rules are enforced without a solution found, tourist traffic at the crucial ferry port could come to a halt, according to Doug Bannister.

He explained: “As it stands, no one has a process for a car full of people on a dark and stormy night passing through a ferry terminal.

“So if we were to follow the process from the airport to the ferry port, it would involve people getting out of their vehicles in the middle of busy traffic lanes.

“It would be dangerous and we simply couldn’t allow that to happen.”

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