Vaccine boosts travel as people book long-awaited holidays
- Credit: Fred Olsen
Holiday firms across East Anglia are seeing an increase in bookings from older people.
As more people receive the vaccine against coronavirus some holiday operators are reporting an increase in bookings.
Currently the government restrictions mean people must stay at home.
Only if people are legally permitted to do so, can they travel. It is not yet known whether having the vaccine stops people from spreading or catching the virus.
But it seems some people are feeling more confident about booking a holiday, particularly in the UK, in light of receiving the vaccine or hoping to get it. Others still feel it is too early to be booking a break, even if they've had the vaccine or not.
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Staycation giant Hoseasons, based in Lowestoft, has seen a 13pc jump in bookings from customers aged over 55 in the last seven days.
Simon Altham, group chief commercial officer for Awaze Hoseasons' parent company, said: “Positive news about the gathering pace of the vaccination rollout is clearly having an impact on booking patterns as those in line for the jab start to think ahead and dream of taking that much-longed-for UK break when restrictions finally ease later this year.”
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The firm has also seen a 91pc surge in peak summer holiday bookings for Norfolk over the last week – the greatest increase anywhere in the UK.
Winterton-on-sea, Great Yarmouth and Happisburgh were the most popular destinations with customers. Bookings for Suffolk were up also up 73pc over the same period.
Nicholas Lee, who runs Broadland Travel, North Walsham, said he had taken around six bookings from people aged over 70 last week, five for UK coach breaks later this year.
Some of those people had received their first vaccine, others were booking because they felt confident they would get it.
"I'm expecting the real bounce at Easter, but the older age group, some of who are getting their second vaccine in April, are more confident they can take a holiday.
"But numbers are still down, with bookings nationally for holidays just 8pc of what they were last year for the first 15 days in January."
Peter Deer, managing director at Ipswich-based Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, also said they had seen a boost in bookings.
“The development and roll-out of the vaccine is a very good thing, and in December when news of the vaccine was first announced we did see a boost to consumer confidence for travel. A large proportion of our guests are aged over 50.
"We have had incredible support from our guests since we paused our operations in early 2020, and have seen an encouraging amount of guests not only transferring to alternative cruises, as opposed to a refund, but also in new bookings too.
"If the roll-out of the vaccine continues at the rate as predicted by the government we expect to see a steep rise in bookings.”
Sascha Tucker, Norfolk Holiday Properties, based in Kirby Bedon, near Norwich, said: "We are seeing a gradual increase in enquiries for the summer now, so it does seem consumer confidence is growing. Last year demand far outstripped supply for UK staycations and we anticipate similar for 2021."
Nationally, TUI is reporting 50pc of bookings made this month were from the over 50s, previously a much smaller market for them.
Coach firm National Express also said bookings were up 185pc in the last fortnight compared to last year.
But when this newspaper asked on social media if anyone had booked a holiday after being vaccinated, the majority of people did not think it was a good idea.
Joy Elsey said: "I've been vaccinated but not booking anything. Hopefully waiting until August last minute."
Veronica Blackburn said: "Having vaccine tomorrow but will not be booking a holiday abroad this year. May consider a local holiday later this year."
Louise Downton said: "Having the vaccine won't save the travel industry...I doubt travel will pick up until 2022."
Kieran Barker said: "Perhaps we should focus on rebuilding our communities, trades and employment."