A spike in domestic holiday demand has pushed the UK up to third in Travel Counsellors’ list of top-selling destinations, and has helped drive a recovery in new bookings to almost 80% of pre-pandemic levels.
New bookings made with Travel Counsellors during March and April are currently at three times the level they were this time last year, with the UK trailing only Spain and Greece by volume. The US is fourth, and the UAE fifth.
Travel Counsellors said consumers "remained confident" domestic and overseas holidays were on the cards this year, despite the UK government not yet having announced how destinations will be categorised under a new traffic light system governing the resumption of international travel.
A limited resumption is expected from 17 May, with Grant Shapps confirming on Wednesday (28 April) the long-awaited green, amber and red lists would be published "in the next couple of weeks".
He added the UK’s NHS app would be used as a Covid pass for overseas travel, allowing travellers to show they’ve been vaccinated or to certify a recent negative test for Covid-19. "I’m working internationally with partners across the world to make sure the system can be internationally recognised," said Shapps.
A recent Travel Counsellors customer survey, though, revealed nearly 50% of those polled had already booked, or were about to book, a UK holiday; the company has already achieved more than £5 million in sales for 2021 "staycation bookings".
Its top five UK destinations are Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Norfolk, the Lake District, and the Isle of Wight.
Kirsten Hughes, Travel Counsellors’ UK managing director, said the company’s TCs around the country offered clients "unrivalled local knowledge".
"We have developed our UK product, and that – coupled with our insider tips from the best places to eat to local walks and hidden gems – is proving incredibly popular with customers," she added.
Hughes added the survey found 80% of customers wanted to book with someone they trust and to be assured of financial protection, while 60% said they would be looking out for flexible booking policies and comprehensive insurance covering Covid-19 travel issues.