Travel firms see surge in over-50s booking holidays as Covid vaccine rolled out

Travel firms are noting an unexpected boost to holiday bookings in recent weeks, most notably from over-50s.

Andrew Flintham, Managing Director of TUI UK said: “We’re seeing more interest in holidays from an age group that wasn’t coming through before, with the over 50’s starting to book, we assume, on the back to the positive vaccine news.

“Since the end of last year, bookings from this group have accounted for 50% of all our web bookings, as customers long for a sunshine break later in summer, in particular in Greece, Turkey or the Balearics. 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.”

Over 50s travel firm Saga Holidays has also noted an uptake in bookings. The company says it’s seen an increase in long-haul bookings, with 2022 up over 90% on the same period as last year. Meanwhile, the average length of a holiday has gone from 13-nights to 18-nights, suggesting that those planning trips abroad want to enjoy longer breaks.

Senior couple walking together on public transport station, with rolling suitcases and bag
The vaccine is offering fresh hope for holidaymakers

Meanwhile, National Express reports a 185 percent increase for this spring and summer compared to ‘pre-Covid’ figures for last year.

Travel experts say it is down to a new ‘vaccine confidence’. Many families are making ‘multi-generational’ bookings to go away
with grandma and grandpa.

Jit Desai, National Express head of holidays and travel, said: “A total of 98 percent of our customer base is over 65.

“We’ve seen an increased appetite for travel with an uplift in enquiries. There are bookings every time there has been an announcement about vaccine approvals and the roll-out 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.”

OAPs are now ‘making travel plans’. “Some have had their jab and can’t wait to go on holiday once guidance allows, ” she added.

The Cotswolds are proving a popular UK destination

Lucketts Travel and Woods Tours, part of National Express, provide package coach holidays across the UK and Europe. They include accommodation, meals, excursions and return coach travel. They are currently taking bookings for travel from May onwards.

The top 10 most popular UK destinations for their 2021 bookings to date are The Cotswolds, Isle of Wight, York, The Lake District, North Wales, The Isle of Man, Northumberland, Isles of Scilly Scotland and Cornwall.

It’s believed that the surge in bookings has come from this age group because they are among the first across the UK to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

In fact, it’s hoped that all over-50s should be offered a first dose of the vaccine by the end of April. NHS chief executive Simon Stevens previously said officials were engaged in a “sprint” to extend the jab to all the priority groups who want it.

The pandemic has been devastating for the travel industry, with millions of Brits’ holidays having been cancelled due to ongoing travel restrictions.

At the time of writing England is in a third national lockdown which includes a ban on international travel (there are exceptions but holidays aren’t on the list), while Scotland and Wales also have national restrictions with bans on travelling abroad.

The Uk government currently operates a travel corridors system which determines whether holidaymakers will need to self-isolate for 10 days when returning from a country, based on that destination’s Covid-19 risk.

It’s worth noting that this is not the same as the Foreign Office travel advice, which affects whether your holiday is cancelled/your travel insurance will be valid. (We’ve got a wider explanation here of how FCDO advice affects your getaways).

Are you planning a holiday once you’ve got the coronavirus vaccine? Let us know in the comments below…




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