International holiday bookings soared by around 600% on Monday just hours after Boris Johnson laid out his plans to ease lockdown.
The Prime Minister's announcement suggested that flights and holidays to Europe's most popular sunshine destinations including Spain could be on the cards from as early as May 17.
The news was warmly welcomed by the country's beleaguered airlines and tour operators which have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Just hours after the news, shares in some of the UK's biggest travel companies rocketed.
Low-cost airline Easyjet saw demand for flights soar by as much as 337% following the announcement with holiday packages jumping by over 600%. Shares in the company were boosted as a result, rising by as much as 12% in London following the announcement.
Easyjet said that British favourites including Malaga, Alicante and Palma were among some of the most searched destinations with the month of August the most popular followed by July and September.
Easyjet's CEO, Johan Lundgren said: “We have consistently seen that there is pent up demand for travel.
“This surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what U.K. consumers have been waiting for.”
TUI, one of the UK's largest tour operators which offers hotel and flight packages to some of Europe's most popular destinations were also upbeat suggesting that demand had jumped six-fold overnight off the back of the news.
Shares in TUI also made favourable gains, with the stock rising by over 8% with other holiday operators including Ryanair and British Airways owner IAG SA also seeing promising gains.
TUI said that they would not be operating any holidays until at least May 17 and will extend their policy on allowing holidaymakers to rebook planned trips through the end of June for free.
Managing Director of TUI UK and Ireland Andrew Flintham said: “We will continue to work closely with the government so people can look forward to a well-deserved break away, after what has been a very difficult year for many.”
Thomas Cook also reported that its website traffic had doubled following the news.
Chief Executive Alan French said that the PM's roadmap was 'good news' with the company seeing bookings 'flooding in' for countries like Greece, Cyprus, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
He 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.”
The vast majority of travel operators see this summer as make or break having seen very little revenue since the outbreak began in January. Many have had to dip into cash reserves, government financing and furlough schemes in order to stay afloat.
Spain’s tourism industry has also been hit extremely hard by the pandemic with many hotels being closed as a result of the imposed travel restrictions and border closure’s following the discovery of newer more infectious strains of the virus.
UK holidaymakers will learn more on April 12, which is when the government will publish their travel safety review. For now, travel bans will continue to be in force until at least May 17.
Image Credit: Number 10 on Flickr
February 19, 2021
February 18, 2021