COVID-19: Rise in holiday demand from older people as vaccines rolled out

·2-min read

Holiday firms have seen a spike in bookings from older people planning long-awaited trips as the coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.

TUI, the UK's largest tour operator, said half of bookings so far this year had been made by over-50s - an age group that "wasn't coming through" previously.

National Express, which has also seen growing demand, said some customers near the front of the queue for their jabs were feeling comfortable to travel from the spring.

The bookings rise will come as a boost to the travel and hospitality sectors, where many firms are on their knees after coronavirus restrictions crushed demand - and thousands of jobs have gone.

Operators are seeing demand for breaks both home and abroad, with some of it making up for holiday plans not fulfilled last year.

TUI UK & Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham said he believed the upturn was "on the back of the positive vaccine news".

"Customers long for a sunshine break later in summer, particularly in Greece, Turkey or the Balearics," said Mr Flintham.

"And many Brits want to get away for longer this year, opting for 14, 10 or 11 nights instead of seven to make up for not having a holiday in 2020."

National Express said its coach holiday business - predominantly used by over-65s - had seen bookings nearly triple for spring and summer trips compared with last year.

It believes many customers are choosing UK breaks because of uncertainty around international travel and quarantine rules.

The Cotswolds, the Isle of Wight, York and the Lake District are among its most popular destinations for 2021.

National Express head of holidays and travel Jit Desai said: "We've seen an increased appetite for travel in the last week or two with an uplift in inquiries and bookings every time there's been an announcement about new vaccine approvals and the rollout programme.

"Some of this is postponed travel carried over from last year.

"But there's definitely a trend of customers being comfortable that they will have had their vaccination and be protected from spring onwards, so can start to make travel plans.

"Some are telling us that they've already had their jab and can't wait to go on holiday once guidance allows again."