Agents have reported a spike in interest for US and Canada trips, with new enquiries up by more than half in the last two weeks of April.
Nearly half of all respondents to TTG’s latest Travel Agent Tracker survey (47%) received new enquiries for the region in the two weeks to Friday 30 April. This is up from just less than a third (31%) in the two weeks to Friday 16 April.
Bookings are up sharply too; 30% of respondents to the latest Tracker survey said they took new US and Canada bookings in the two weeks to 30 April, up from 20% earlier in the month.
The US’s rapid vaccination programme has raised hopes of the States making an early appearance on the UK government’s “green list”, which would allow quarantine-free travel between the two countries to resume.
While Canada hasn’t achieved the pace with its roll-out, both agents and operators note rising confidence among travellers to book Canada – particularly for 2022 and beyond.
One agent highlighted a £54,000 family booking to Orlando for August; other notable bookings flagged by agents over the past two weeks included a £26,000 Canada, Alaska and Rocky Mountaineer trip.
Gold Medal told TTG calls regarding US trips had increased by a quarter over the past two weeks, while over the past eight weeks, North America bookings had accounted for a third of the operator’s total sales.
Each week over the past month, Gold Medal has seen single to double-digit week-on-week growth in North America sales, with the last full week’s trading up 35% week-on-week.
The majority of Gold Medal’s North America sales, more than three-quarters (76%), are for 2022, with 22% for 2021 and 2% for 2023; popular destinations include Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Los Angeles.
Other North America sales trends include higher average booking values, up 12% on pre-pandemic levels, longer stays, and increases in multi-centre bookings – both twin- and triple-centres.
Premier Holidays told TTG interest in the US was increasing steadily “in anticipation of things opening up”, with a spokesperson stating this was reflected in levels of social media engagement and new enquiries.
They said the deficit in terms of passengers and room nights, compared to 2019 levels, was reducing each month, and had halved since January. "Confidence is clearly building and people are starting to commit," they said.
Like Gold Medal, Premier is reporting an increase in average spend, up it claims by a third, with guests primarily opting for upgrades on their hotels, flights and experiences.
Premier described 2022 bookings, in particular, as “strong”, with the operator looking to introduce new product to cater for demand for bucket list and special interest or occasion holidays.
It will also follow up a newly launched Deep South campaign with a new Florida focused push.
However, while Canada specialists Prestige Holidays and Canadian Affair both reported a strong resurgence in interest and enquiries for Canada, this was yet to translate to a significant uptick in bookings.
“Interest in booking a holiday to Canada remains strong, but while there is uncertainty regarding when people can visit, is a hesitancy to actually book,” said Denise Hunn, Prestige director – Canada tour operations. “Pent-up demand, together with the extremely high level of rebooks from 2020 and 2021, demonstrate 2022 will be hugely popular.”
Hunn said availability would be an issue, especially during peak seasons, warning demand for some experiences such as bear viewing lodges was already outstripping supply. “We know next year will be very successful for travel to Canada, and we are already seeing interest for 2023,” she added.
Canadian Affair managing director Chris Hedley said the operator had seen a consistent increase in enquiries and net new sales since mid-February, with bookings up by more than a third in April.
“By putting next year on sale earlier than ever before, we have already seen a significant number of sales for 2022,” said Hedley, who also noted increase demand for flight, rail and accommodation upgrades.
“We have seen greater demand for our rail and cruise products, and independent touring across a wide range of Canadian destinations,” said Hedley.
“The ever popular west coast routes continue to appeal to customers, but we are also seeing early demand for Ontario, Atlantic Canada and the Yukon.”
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