Travel agents report growing consumer confidence

The trade has reported further growth in consumer confidence to book holidays but reiterated a plea for clarification of dates for day‑two test changes.

Agents said sales continued to steadily improve thanks to positive recent announcements on travel.

Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan said: “The biggest thing that’s changed is the government language. We had a super week last week and expect to build on it this week. Sales are getting towards 2019 levels.”

By the end of October, time spent on bookings should “substantially” reduce, said Morgan. He estimated transaction times were 25% higher than normal due to Covid-related administration.

He added: “The simplification of rules is not only good for customers, it’s good for agents, because the time on every transaction is huge.”

Polka Dot Travel director Mark Johnson said clients were “much more positive now”, while the expectation of a reduced red list would provide “another marker of confidence for the consumer”.

Advantage Travel Partnership said “volumes remained high” despite levelling off last week compared with the previous week, and noted rising consumer confidence.

“We’re not seeing the dip in sales we usually see just before a country review,” said leisure director Kelly Cookes. “Summer and winter sun continues to drive the volume but we’re also starting to see city breaks come back.”

Holiday Extras said there were signs more consumers were booking short breaks with sales for one to six days up 19% compared with prior to the recent traffic light announcement.

The Travel Network Group, which reported increased sales and enquiries, said an expected reduction of red list destinations this week would be “great news”, particularly for niche operator members.

The group said members were proving “instrumental” in helping increase consumer confidence, with many customers seeking an agent’s advice on entry and testing requirements.

But lack of clarity over the switch to lateral flow tests was causing problems, with October half-term clients unsure whether to book more‑expensive PCR tests.

A spokeswoman said: “To remove confusion, the government should give clear dates.”

C The World director Carolyn Park agreed: “On the whole sales are going in the right direction, but we need more detail with each announcement.”

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