Summer holiday bookings set to skyrocket in ‘exceptional weekend’

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Travel agencies are forecasting a surge in summer holiday bookings this weekend, with one firm predicting it will be the busiest two-day period in its history.

Demand has been high in recent days after Monday’s announcement that coronavirus testing for fully vaccinated travelers arriving in the UK will be scrapped from February 11.

But holiday sales are expected to rise significantly this weekend as they follow the first payday after Christmas for millions of workers.

Simon Cooper, chief executive of online travel giant On the Beach – which launched in 2004, said he thought the next few days would be “the busiest we have ever been in our history”.

He said: “We would expect it to be a bumper weekend, with people researching holidays throughout the month and booking.

“Overall volume has warmed throughout the month.”

The removal of the requirement for fully vaccinated arrivals to take a pre-departure test earlier this month triggered the surge in demand.

Mr Cooper said he believed the number of people going on holiday abroad this summer would be “as high, if not more” than before the pandemic.

The Greek Islands, Turkey and Dubai are among the best-selling destinations.

Bookings for Spain are “behind what they should be” as the country’s requirement that all arrivals over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated discourages many families, Mr. Cooper.

The UK’s biggest tour operator, Tui, has predicted it will be 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 to travel is stronger than ever and customers who may not have been abroad in over two years are now enjoying flexible booking and payment options, as well as excellent offers, to book a well-deserved summer break. .”

Luxury travel company Kuoni is also planning a busy weekend, with popular destinations including the Maldives, Mauritius, the Caribbean, Africa, Italy and Greece.

Sales manager Helen Roberts said sales had “steadily increased” over the past few weeks, and the company had produced many quotes for holidays “on the to-do list”.

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

“Many of our clients haven’t been away for two years or more and are ready to put in the effort and have an unforgettable vacation.

“Our stores have appointments over the weekend and our call center is already buzzing with calls – this is the moment our travel experts have been waiting for.”

Paul Charles, boss of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said many people will be booking trips this weekend as they “realize they need something to look forward to”.

He continued: “Airlines, hotels and tour operators are seeing booking levels return and I expect the summer of 2022 to be the busiest ever for outbound travel as consumers are spending after two years of confinement for the most part.”

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren announced on Thursday that the easing of coronavirus restrictions means the UK is “leading in bookings compared to Europe for the first time since spring 2020”.

The low-cost airline plans to operate its highest number of summer flights between the UK and beach destinations this year.

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