Holidays: Simon Calder advises to use ‘human’ travel agents
Many Britons may be desperate to know when their next opportunity to jet off on holiday will be, but with an ongoing national lockdown in the UK and ever-tightening travel rules, it may feel as though plans are slipping further from view. Despite this, travel insiders remain positive holidaymakers will be taking off in the months to come.
In fact, according to Chris Wright, managing director of travel agency Sunvil, Britons could be heading for sunnier shores as soon as the spring months.
“With the vaccine rollout gathering momentum and vulnerable members of our society scheduled to receive their jabs by mid-February and other priority groups by Easter, we feel that many holidays will resume by late Spring,” he told Express.co.uk.
“We have seen demand for short-haul holidays from late May.”
Indeed, already travel firms have reported a “surge” in bookings – particularly from the over 65’s who will be among the first to receive their inoculations.
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Travel firm Saga says it has experienced a “notable increase” in bookings coming from travel-hungry over 50’s.
However, travel experts from travel membership organisation The Travel Network Group are somewhat more hesitant.
Though positive holidaymakers will get away before the end of the year, Gary Lewis, the firm’s CEO, told Express.co.uk summer was a more feasible goal.
“We’re hoping that holidays will resume this summer or as soon as the UK and other European and rest of the world countries can successfully vaccinate their population,” Mr Lewis said.
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“If holidaymakers are looking to go on holiday this year, we encourage them to check with their local travel agent, as availability and capacities may be low, given that many 2020 holidays got postponed to 2021 and this will have a knock-on effect for availability.”
However, according to the experts, those who are wanting to bag a bargain might want to consider booking now – even if their holiday isn’t for another year or two.
“Forward sales are strong as many travellers deferred their plans from 2020 to 2021 and capacity across the market has been reduced,” said Mr Wright.
“We’d therefore recommend booking as soon as travellers feel confident to do so although to secure their preferred vacation the earlier the better.
“Holidays for 2022 are also on sale and early sales are being confirmed.”
Indeed, already the likes of easyJet and Ryanair have launched seat sales for holidays stretching into next year.
Though one-way tickets start as low as £18.99, the experts warn these kinds of alluring prices won’t last long.
“The cost of a holiday will most likely increase, because the capacity will be limited due to 2020 bookings moving to 2021, and the different restrictions imposed will mean that fewer people are allowed in certain spaces, which might see things becoming more expensive,” warns Mr Lewis.
Though he recognises there is a certain element of risk for bargain hunters who are keen to grab a low-cost deal, the travel pro also notes the added flexibility travel operators are offering now.
“As soon as people would like to book a holiday, they should get in touch with their travel agent and find the option that best suits them – the big tour operators have now become more flexible and are allowing customers to change the date of their holiday, without incurring extra fee,” he said.
In a similar vein, Mr Wright warns reduced capacity could be the reason behind somewhat higher costs, though he does not believe the overall expense of travel will rise.
“It is important to stress that with reduced capacity travellers are unlikely to see the ‘sale’ prices of previous years,” he said.
For forward-planners who are eager to book their next holiday, Mr Lewis offered a nugget of wisdom.
“Travel agents are best placed to help customers book a holiday – they have all the up-to-date knowledge and expertise to help and advise customers on all the different changes for FCDO advice, entry requirements into different countries, and changes in rules and regulations,” he said.
“Our main piece of advice would be to book your 2021 and 2022 holiday with your local travel agent, whether your next holiday will be in the UK, Europe or the rest of the world.”
Likewise, Mr Wright added: “2021 is going to be fast-moving and ever-changing.
“Travellers that book with destination specialists can be assured that they will be kept up to date with the latest advice as it changes.
“This is a year to book a package knowing you have one point of contact – a human! – should plans change.”
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