Holidays abroad may still be on hold, but Britain’s travel industry was given a shot in the arm by the news that staycations will be allowed from mid-April.
The news provided a welcome boost for the sector, with companies seeing an increase in website traffic before the PM had even finished his address.
Staycation giant Awaze, the owner of UK self-catering company Cottages.com, said it sold a record 10,000 breaks on Monday – recording one booking every second.
Pitchup.com, meanwhile, has taken one booking every seven seconds in the past 24 hours.
And Habitat Escapes, which offers luxury holiday in the Cotswolds and Dorset, told MailOnline that by this morning, sales were up 343 per cent compared with last week, and a staggering 9,559 per cent up on the same day last year.
Cool Camping, which runs sites across the UK, saw an instant doubling in website traffic between 3-4pm followed by record numbers in the evening.
A spokesman for the company told MailOnline: ‘By the end of the day, bookings were up by an incredible 1,500% on the same day last year.’
Cornwall was the most booked location, with some of the most popular spots already fully booked for some August weekends.
Under the blueprint revealed last night, key sectors of the economy will gradually re-open at only four-weekly intervals as the Government plots a cautious easing of restrictions.
This comes as a SAGE professor warned holidaymakers not to go on foreign trips before 2023.
Professor Graham Medley, who sits on SAGE and is the UK’s chief pandemic modeller, said today he wouldn’t book a holiday until 2023.
By the end of Monday, bookings for Cool Camping sites (pictured) were up by some 1,500% on the same day last year
Habitat Escapes, which offers luxury holiday in the Cotswolds and Dorset, told MailOnline that by this morning, sales were up 343 per cent compared with last week, and a staggering 9,559 per cent up on the same day last year. Pictured, one of its luxury retreats in Dorset
At the close of play on Monday, bookings for Cool Camping locations were up by more than 750% on the same date last year (February 22, which was a Saturday) and were up by an incredible 1,500% on the same day last year (the last Monday of the month; Feb 24)
SAGE scientist warns don’t book a trip abroad before 2023
Professor Graham Medley, who sits on SAGE and is the UK’s chief pandemic modeller, said today he wouldn’t book a holiday until 2023.
He said: ‘I’m not, I didn’t last year and I won’t next year probably either.
‘I think it’s a time of caution and we have to see. While we’re doing very well with the vaccine in this country, other countries are not doing so well.’
Asked to clarify he would not even book a foreign holiday for 2022, he added: ‘Not at the moment. I wouldn’t book anything.
‘I think the whole situation’s going to be uncertain for a long time.
‘We’ve got more optimism and certainty now in this country than we have for most other places.’
The Prime Minister announced that self-catered breaks in holiday lets will be permitted from April 12.
But hotels and B&Bs will have to wait until May 17 at the earliest before they can open their doors.
Staycation giant Awaze recorded one booking every second and sold more than 10,000 UK breaks yesterday, as customers scrambled to secure their post-lockdown getaway.
Following yesterday’s announcement, year-on-year growth compared to the same day last year saw Cornwall up by 671%; Devon up 623%; and the two locations combined up by 643%.
Habitat Escapes, which offers luxury holiday rentals at Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds and Silverlake in Dorset, has reported a surge in bookings and enquiries.
As of this morning, sales were up 343% compared with last week, and 9559% up on the same day last year.
Red Paxton, Director of Habitat Escapes, said: ‘The Prime Minister has unlocked the summer we were all waiting for.
‘We are delighted to see so many consumers booking again and looking forward to their habitat escape in England.’
Despite the demand there is still availability to book a post lockdown escape at one of its two locations.
James Warner Smith from Cool Camping told MailOnline: ‘What we witnessed yesterday was a huge surge in bookings following Boris Johnson’s announcement, with an instant doubling in our website traffic between 3 and 4pm when he was making his announcement in the House of Commons and then record numbers in the evening.
Cool Camping, which runs sites across the UK, saw an instant doubling in website traffic between 3-4pm followed by record numbers in the evening
How will lockdown ease in the roadmap?
Step One Part One: March 8
From March 8, all pupils and students will return to schools and colleges across England.
So-called wrap-around childcare will also be allowed to resume, paving the way for after and before school clubs to reopen.
People will be allowed to meet one other person outside for recreation, for example, to have a picnic or to meet for coffee.
Care home residents will be able to have one regular named visitor.
The Government’s stay at home order will remain in place, with travel for non-essential purposes still banned.
Step One Part Two: March 29
From March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed. These gatherings will be allowed to happen in private gardens.
Outdoor sports like tennis and basketball will be allowed to reopen and people will also be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
It is at this point that the Government’s stay at home guidance will end, to be replaced by ministers encouraging people to ‘stay local’.
However, the Government is expected not to define what constitutes local, instead choosing to rely on people using their common sense to decide on journeys.
People will still be told to work from home wherever possible while international travel will still be banned unless it is for essential purposes.
Step Two: April 12
Nom-essential retail will be allowed to reopen as well as personal care premises like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons.
Public buildings like libraries, museums and art galleries will be allowed to welcome back customers.
Meanwhile, hospitality venues and outdoor attractions like theme parks will be given the green light to reopen in some form.
However, there will still be rules on household mixing: Essentially any activity which involves being indoors will be restricted to members of the same household.
Gyms and swimming pools will also reopen from April 12 but only on the basis that people go on their own or with their own household.
Pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen but at this point they will only be able to have customers outdoors.
Any visits to a pub or restuarant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six.
The Government will not be bringing back the old requirement for people to order a substantial meal with alcohol while the old 10pm curfew will be ditched.
All customers at hospitality venues will also have to be seated when they order food or drink, with ordering at the bar prohibited.
Campsites and holiday lets where indoor facilities are not shared with other households can also reopen but trips must be restricted a single household.
Funerals will be allowed to continue with up to 30 people, while the rules on wedding receptions will be eased to allow the number of guests to increase from six to 15.
Step Three: May 17
The two household and rule of six requirements for outdoor gatherings will be ditched but gatherings of more than 30 people in places like parks will still be banned.
Crucially, mixing indoors will be allowed again. The rule of six or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed to meet.
However, this will be kept under review by ministers to see if rules could be relaxed still further.
This is also the point at which pubs and restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to open indoors, with the rule of six and two household limit in place. But groups meeting outdoors at pubs will be allowed to be bigger.
Entertainment venues like cinemas and children’s play areas will be able to reopen, as will hotels and B&Bs. Indoor adult sports groups and exercise classes can also reopen.
Changes will also be made to sporting and performance events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half full
‘By the end of the day, bookings were up by more than 750% on the same date last year (February 22, which was a Saturday) and were up by an incredible 1,500% on the same day last year (the last Monday of the month; Feb 24).
‘Cornwall was the most booked location, with one or two of the most popular spots, like Mount Pleasant Eco Park, now fully booked for some August weekends, but plenty of availability still remains, though we expect key weekends like the May and August bank holidays to fill up quickly.
‘The late May bank holiday, in particular, was amongst the most-booked dates last night.’
Mr Johnson said the travel industry will not reopen before Step Two begins on April 12, when people will be able to stay in self-contained accommodation.
No household mixing will be allowed at that stage and only cottages or Airbnb lets that do not have shared facilities will be permitted to open.
Outdoor hospitality will begin at this point, meaning holidaymakers will be able to enjoy beer gardens and restaurants or cafes that have outside seating.
However, those wanting to stay in hotels, B&Bs or hostels will have to wait until at least May 17.
At this point, indoor hospitality in pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes will begin again.
The exact timing will depend on four key tests, which include the continued rollout of the vaccine programme and evidence that the jabs are reducing Covid hospitalisation and death rates.
Awaze owns self-catering brands including cottages.com, Hoseasons and Landal GreenParks UK.
Simon Altham, Group Chief Commercial Officer said: ‘We welcome yesterday’s roadmap from the Government, which gives holidaymakers and property owners in England clarity over taking and enjoying a staycation this year.
‘Last year following similar announcements we saw bookings peak at one every 11 seconds, but this time demand has exceeded our expectations and comfortably broken that record.
‘It is clear that Brits are desperate to get away, and now have the clarity and confidence to book.
‘This will be welcome news for many businesses that rely on tourism across England and will allow them to plan their reopening carefully and considerately.
‘We do recognise that some people will be disappointed they can’t get away sooner, but since the start of the pandemic the health and safety of our customers, property owners and local communities has been a top priority and we will continue to work carefully to follow all the Government guidelines in the coming weeks and months.
‘Most of all we look forward to welcoming our customers back and playing our part in helping them experience and enjoy a well-earned break following an incredibly tough year.’
Boris Johnson today hit back at Tories and scientists suggesting lockdown could ease faster – as Wales and Scotland warned his roadmap might be too quick.
The PM said he was being ‘sensible and prudent’ with his four-stage plan after attacks on the approach from both sides.
‘Some people will say we’re going to be going too fast, some people will say we’re going too slow,’ he said on a visit to a school in South London.
Mr Johnson refused to guarantee that all restrictions will definitely be lifted by June 21 as scheduled, but insisted he was ‘hopeful’ it can happen.
The intervention came after Matt Hancock slapped down Professor Neil Ferguson for suggesting the government’s blueprint for England could be speeded up if things go well.
Tories and business have been voicing disquiet about the ultra-cautious approach being taken by ministers, even though the vaccination drive has been surging ahead.
Schools will return on March 8, but there will be almost no further loosening of the draconian curbs before Easter. There will be a five week gap between each of the four main stages of the plan, with scientists having won the argument in government that time is needed to assess the impact.
The PM has been boosted by snap polls showing the public largely backs his stance, with 46 per cent telling YouGov it is about right – and around a fifth suggesting it is too fast.
Welsh government experts said today that Mr Johnson’s timeline is ‘risky’ and the outbreak could spiral out of control again, while Nicola Sturgeon is expected to unveil her own more cautious exit strategy this afternoon.
Prof Ferguson – whose grim modelling triggered the initial lockdown last year – sounded a bright note on Times Radio last night.
‘Hopefully what we’ll see when each step happens is a very limited resurgence of infections. In which case, there’s a chance we can accelerate the schedule,’ he said.
However, Mr Hancock dismissed the idea of speeding the schedule up in a round of interviews this morning. ‘No. We need to see the effects of each step, and that takes five weeks,’ he said.
Holidaymakers rush to book summer getaways to Greece, Spain and Turkey after PM announced aim to restart international travel from May 17 – but SAGE scientist warns don’t book a trip abroad before 2023
By Danyal Hussain for MailOnline
Britons are rushing to book their summer getaways ahead of the return of international travel from May 17 – despite a SAGE professor warning holidaymakers not to go on foreign trips before 2023.
Some of Britain’s biggest airlines and travel firms revealed a surge in holiday bookings to destinations including Greece, Spain and Turkey in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown yesterday.
Britons were quick to act on the news, with easyJet revealing a 337 per cent surge in flight bookings and a 630 per cent jump in holiday bookings for destinations such as Alicante, Malaga, Palma, Faro and Crete after 3pm yesterday.
Of the rising bookings, most are for August, followed by July and then September.
Jet2 saw a 600% increase in summer holiday bookings after the announcement, with bookings surging for destinations across the board including mainland Spain and its islands, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
Tui reported its best day for bookings in over a month, with Britons particularly interested in holidays in Greece, Spain and Turkey for the summer and Thomas Cook said it saw a 100 per cent surge on website traffic after the announcement.
However, Professor Graham Medley, who sits on SAGE and is the UK’s chief pandemic modeller, said today he wouldn’t book a holiday until 2023.
He said: ‘I’m not, I didn’t last year and I won’t next year probably either. I think it’s a time of caution and we have to see. While we’re doing very well with the vaccine in this country, other countries are not doing so well.’
Asked to clarify he would not even book a foreign holiday for 2022, he added: ‘Not at the moment. I wouldn’t book anything. I think the whole situation’s going to be uncertain for a long time. We’ve got more optimism and certainty now in this country than we have for most other places.’
Pictured is a beach in Magaluf, Spain. The surge in holiday bookings included places such as Greece, Spain and Turkey
The roadmap revealing the return of international travel triggered mixed reactions from the travel industry.
Simon Dolan, Chairman of Jota Aviation & Founder of the Keep Britain Free Movement slammed the plan.
He said: ‘For almost a year the travel and aviation sector has been forced to adapt to a series of impossible measures.
‘Border closures, testing, quarantines and travel bans have brought the industry to its knees.
‘We simply cannot wait until May 17th for travel to open again and there’s no saying Boris won’t push this date back even further.
‘At this point, the public is so accustomed to Government U-turns that they won’t be rushing to book a holiday anytime soon, and companies will suffer as a result.’
He also warned against vaccine passports and described them as another barrier to the recovery of the industry.
Read the small print before booking your summer holiday
Boris Johnson’s announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown yesterday triggered a huge surge in summer holiday bookings.
Britons, keen to put the stresses of the past year behind them, immediately began booking foreign trips in the hours after the prime minister revealed international travel was back on the menu from May 17.
However, experts have warned that holidaymakers should exercise caution when booking their trips.
In November, holiday firms were accused of illegally withholding £1billion in refunds to families whose holidays were cancelled due to the pandemic over the past year.
Around 9.4million people have lost a trip since coronavirus hit the UK and many of the firms involved delayed giving refunds or even tried to fob people off with vouchers or the option to re-book, say consumer experts Which?
After the criticism, many companies have cleaned up their acts and now offer more reasonable refund terms.
However, the risk still remains, especially with the threat of further lockdowns if new variants emerge.
So, consumers should only book a holiday if the path to a refund is clear to them.
Package holidays offer the best protection – if your trip is cancelled a refund is owed within 14 days.
There is no obligation to accept a voucher and so Britons must exercise caution.
He said: ‘Even when the day comes, it will be blighted by the introduction of vaccine passports. These will simply act as another barrier to getting the sector back on its feet and are completely discriminatory against those who are unable to, or choose not to get the vaccine for personal reasons.
‘After all we’ve been through this past year, do we really want to start ostracising people for their choices and creating new marginalised groups?
‘It is critical we start looking at a way to reopen travel sooner. Otherwise our world-leading industry simply won’t survive and struggling small and medium enterprise will just disappear.’
Thomas Cook’s chief executive Alan French, however, dubbed the PM’s roadmap ‘good news’ with the travel company seeing booking ‘flooding in’ already for countries like Greece, Cyprus, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Mr French said: ‘The government’s announcement today is good news for those of us desperate to get away on holiday.
‘While we await more details, it’s clear that the government’s ambition is to open up international travel in the coming months and hopefully in time for the summer holidays.’
Shai Weiss, CEO Virgin Atlantic said: ‘Following the Prime Minister’s update on the UK roadmap out of lockdown, we look forward to working with the Department for Transport and the Global Travel Taskforce on a framework to reopen the skies safely.
‘Building on our flexible booking policies, we will provide customers with the confidence to book ahead and plan for the summer, whether reuniting with family or reconnecting with businesses and colleagues.
‘On the back of the tremendously successful UK vaccine programme, we recognise the importance of protecting the UK from new strains of Covid-19, so that the achievements of the last few months are not undermined. Therefore, we look forward to developing a risk-based framework, based on science and data, to allow the safe restart of travel at scale.
‘We are ready to work as part of an industry task-force with Government experts, to develop the flightpath for aviation, in time for travel this summer.’
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘We have seen enormous pent-up demand from British holidaymakers for some time, with people wanting nothing more than to get away to the sunshine and enjoy their well-deserved holidays.
‘The government’s announcement is the news they have been longing for, and the surge in bookings shows how ready our customers are to get away to the sunshine on a real package holiday.’
‘We are very pleased that the government has shown a clear ambition to reopen international travel in the coming months, and we look forward to more detail in due course.
‘Throughout the pandemic, we have done absolutely everything to look after our valued customers and we have always said that the sun will shine for them once again. We know what an incredibly difficult time it has been for everyone, and we very much look forward to taking everyone from our rainy islands to their dream holiday choice this summer and beyond.’
EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren told the BBC: ‘We have consistently seen that there is pent up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the Government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.’
Amanda Matthews, managing director and owner of luxury travel agency network Designer Travel, said her firm saw double the usual number of enquiries on Monday.
She added: ‘If we were to believe that May would enable us to reopen, then I believe we’d have a really strong summer, but the uncertainty and the lack of information about dates, potential quarantine measures and the cost of testing needed to get back into the UK that makes doing our job an impossible task.’
Travel firms revealed a surge in holiday bookings in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the roadmap out of lockdown
Tui reported that it had its best day for bookings in over a month, with Britons particularly interested in holidays in Greece, Spain and Turkey for the summer
The road map to recovery: The PM’s plan sees pubs shut until at least April 12 after Easter
‘We’ve got people who are due to pay balances for holidays at the end of May, and we have to hope that the news is positive, as opposed to people getting nervous and cancelling.’
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency and co-founder of the Save Our Summer campaign which successfully campaigned for a May re-start for overseas travel, said:
‘Sales have started to soar again as some consumers start spending their wall of money stored up for overseas travel.
‘May is a safe and responsible time to re-start and the 900 firms behind Save Our Summer will hold the government to account on their future dates.
‘Future travel in the short-term is likely to see a mix of testing and digital health apps but most countries will be happy to welcome British tourists due to their spending power. Digital health apps will be seamless and integrated with airline apps to make it easier for consumers to travel safely.
‘It’s also vital to ensure we can welcome overseas tourists into the UK as soon as safely possible so we need to see quarantine rules removed in May as well so as to restore confidence.’
Britons desperate to get away have been rushing to arrange staycation plans following the PM’s announcement yesterday.
Figures released by Avvio, which provides technology to more than 500 hotels around the world, revealed the demand for hotels in August has already risen by a whopping 239 per cent and July by 166 per cent.
The data, which was released yesterday, also showed the revenue for June is up by 63 per cent.
As holidaymakers rush to make bookings, Avvio’s Chief Commercial Officer, Michael De Jongh, said the company had seen a surge in holidaymakers booking hotels in the UK, with the average price being spent for a seven-day stay hitting £1,743.
He said: ‘We’ve all had a tough year and people are desperate to get away this summer.
‘Many consumers feel it’s too risky to book a foreign holiday, so they’re using the money they would have spent going abroad to treat themselves to an incredible stay at a 4 or 5-Star hotel in the UK instead.
‘It may well be the first time many of them have stayed in such a high-end hotel.
‘Of course none of us can be 100 per cent sure what the situation will be like by the summer, but so long as consumers make sure they can amend or cancel their booking easily, they won’t be left financially worse off if lockdown continues longer than anticipated.’
Among the most popular hotel sites being snapped up by Britons so far are the Grand Eastbourne in East Sussex, Rudding Park Hotel in Yorkshire, Crieff Hydro Hotel in Scotland and Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland.
The figures by the property site also showed that staycation bookings were also booming across all types of hotels and self-catering accommodation, with August hotel and self-catering bookings up 91 per cent ahead of last year.
Visit Cornwall tourist board has also revealed that bookings for summer by February are up by 50 to 100 per cent compared to last year, The Telegraph reports.