HOLIDAY-starved Brits led a stampede for unlockdown bookings yesterday — with one tour giant taking more than one a second.
The PM’s announcement on lifting UK travel restrictions sparked a mad rush on summer breaks here and abroad.
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Jet2, the UK’s second-largest tour operator, saw demand rocket by 1,000 per cent.
This was boosted further by low flight prices and plummeting costs at resorts.
Hoseasons, the biggest provider of staycations, sold more than 10,000 in the hours after Boris Johnson’s announcement, with a booking every second.
Meanwhile, Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, also reported a huge increase in bookings to foreign sunshine resorts.
MD Andrew Flintham said: “Greece, Spain and Turkey from July onwards was the most booked overnight, with bookings up 500 per cent.”
EasyJet said demand was up sevenfold on last week, with Malaga, Alicante and Crete especially popular.
Online travel firm Thomas Cook reported website traffic was up 75 per cent on Monday.
Flight comparison giant Sky-scanner said prices were at record lows for this summer.
Trips to Greece are available in August from £53 compared to £216 in the same month in 2019, it said.
Flights to Portugal are on sale from £54, compared to £148 two years ago.
Spain is down from £151 to £52 and Italy has fallen from £131 to £24.
Post Office Travel Money also reported a surge in searches on its site for euros.
‘DESPERATE TO GET AWAY’
Foreign travel might start as early as May 17, with full details expected when a taskforce reports its findings by April 12.
Meanwhile, self-catering family holidays in the UK are allowed from April 12, with mixed household trips from May 17.
Simon Altham, boss of staycation giant Awaze, which owns Hoseasons, said: “Last year following similar announcements we saw bookings peak at one every 11 seconds.
“But this time demand has exceeded expectations and comfortably broken that record with a booking every single second.
“It is clear that Brits are desperate to get away, and now have the clarity and confidence to book.”
He said “we can be much more relaxed” if they work well against South African and Brazilian variants.
But he added: “If the vaccine doesn’t work against them, that will be much, much more difficult.”
Experts also warned travellers to still be wary when booking.
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “Some countries may remain closed to UK residents, a scenario for which several of the UK’s largest airlines would refuse a refund for.”
He added: “But the greatest risk is travelling and finding the country you are in has been added to the red list, meaning hotel quarantine is required on return at a cost of £1,750.”
Some excited families were yesterday planning their first holiday in a year.
Matt Cottrell and partner Laura, from St Neots, Cambs, are desperate to get away with two-year-old son Theo.
Mortgage adviser Matt, 33, said: “We’ve ordered our sun cream. We are so excited. We haven’t even dared to look at holidays after the last year.
“Now with what seems like a pretty clear plan, we feel safe to book for August. We have seen some good prices and plan to have it booked by the weekend.”
London musician Ben Scott, 34, said: “I just want to go lay on a beach somewhere with my partner Amy and not have to cook one single meal for a whole week.
“I can’t believe this is finally happening. If all goes well we’ll be airport-bound at 12:01am on May 17.”
Other families are looking to enjoy a break in Britain, with some believing it may be safer.
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Mark Newell, 41, had a holiday to Portugal cancelled last year with partner Charlotte Padmore, 40, and their three-year-old son Louie.
Quantity surveyor Mark, of Bedford, said: “We got our money back but we’re looking to stay in the UK — though prices are soaring already.
“We think it is safer to jump in your car than get on a crowded plane. We are eyeing up Cornwall.”
Prices fall at resorts
THE cost of eating and drinking at resorts will be lower than last year, research for The Sun shows.
Sterling is soaring against virtually every foreign currency and bars and restaurants are cutting prices to lure more customers.
Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, is the cheapest in Europe, with a nine per cent fall in prices for meals and drinks.
In Portugal’s Algarve, the cost of a meal for two and drinks has come down by around 15 per cent, Post Office Travel Money found.
Boss Nick Boden said: “Prices have fallen.”
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