There’s been an unexpected increase in the number of holiday bookings made in the last fortnight, due to what is being described as “vaccine confidence” by the industry.
Bookings made by those aged 65 and over with National Express for its coach holidays are up 185% in the last fortnight compared to the same period last year.
Jit Desai, Head of Holidays and Travel at National Express, said: “Since the announcement of the vaccine, it's given our customer base, predominantly those over 65, increased confidence to book and have that summer getaway in 2021.”
“We launched the brochure for spring-summer 2021 just this weekend gone, and on Monday we took a week's worth of bookings in a day and that's continued so far. What the vaccine does is give certainty and confidence.
“That then allows the customer and ourselves the ability to plan ahead.”
The vast majority of bookings (90%) are for UK-based holidays, so it looks like people are looking to get away but uncertainty abroad means they still want to stay relatively close to home.
Desai added: “European bookings are lower because of the uncertainty on the continent."
"The UK wins because of the lack of need to quarantine. And uncertainty about the moves other governments might make while away also creates fear.”
But travel plans aren’t all confined to the UK, with tour operator Tui reporting that over 50s are making 50% of their website bookings.
Andrew Flintham, Managing Director of TUI UK, explained the company is currently seeing bookings from an age group that was previously a much smaller market for them. “The over 50s, we assume, are booking on the back of the vaccine news."
Although there’s still a long way to go for the travel industry, Flintham said they’re “seeing glimmers of hope.”
Booking habits have also changed slightly, both in terms of the length and type of holiday and when in the year people are planning to travel.
Flintham added: “People are booking later into the summer. More July and August, [with] a lot of demand for September and October.
“People are booking longer holidays – we're seeing more people booking 10 or 11 or 14 nights rather than seven. People are maybe catching up on what they've missed."
Tui has also noticed a trend towards multigenerational bookings, likely indicating that people are making up for lost time having not been able to see their extended family while they’ve been living under Coronavirus restrictions.
If you’re planning to travel to Europe at some point this year, make sure you’re aware of what’s changed due to Brexit. Take a look at our guide to find out what you need to know about travel to Europe in 2021.