Package holiday sales are set to soar following the UK medicine regulator’s approval of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
TravelSupermarket said many of those ready to book for the summer will "pivot" to package holidays rather than DIY trips owing to the added consumer protections offered by packages.
"This is a real opportunity now, and in the future, for the package holiday industry," said TravelSupermarket’s Emma Coulthurst.
"More people are aware of their rights, having lost money on flights which still ran and [weren’t] worth them paying to change."
Coulthurst said the vaccine approval would likely have a positive impact on package holiday price comparison searches, with the Pfizer/BioNTech approval in November pushing searches up 54% week-on-week.
"People are desperate to escape as soon as the virus and the world allows them to do so," said Coulthurst, who said interest would be highest for June and July 2021 owing to holidaymakers’ expectations for when a relative degree of normality will resume.
"The likes of Corfu, Crete, Turkey, Majorca and the Spanish costas continue to be some of the most popular searches for next summer, with people keen to return to their favourite spots," said Coulthurst.
Winter bookings will be suppressed owing to the Covid crisis, said Coulthurst, with few destinations open to UK travellers, and many others requiring £100pp+ pre-travel Covid tests.
Coulthurst said the government needed to back the travel sector by offering more financial and logistical support for pre-travel testing to get the travel industry moving again – such as making pre-travel testing available free via the NHS if there is capacity.
"Testing is still expensive in some cases and needs to be subsidised," she said. "The government needs to create interventions to enable testing to become more cost effective for everyone."
On test to release, she added: "There needs to be enough testing companies on the approved list for when travel comes back and which can guarantee test results in good time to make test and release worthwhile. Many people were struggling to book a test earlier in the month."
Destinations topping 2021 package price comparison searches include the Maldives and Dubai, both offering quarantine-free return travel, albeit with a pre-travel testing requirement (which can be done on arrival in the UAE).
Some 10% of all TravelSupermarket price comparison searches in December for the year ahead were for the Maldives, up from 2% during the same window last year. For Dubai, it was 6%, also up from 2% this time last year.