Poor weather across UK spurs upturn in bookings

Dismal summer weather across the UK rather than a post-election bounce is driving late sales, according to the trade.

Agents said there was no evidence of customers booking a holiday because the July 4 general election was over but said last-minute sales had picked up due to poor weather. This follows slower trading in June.

A quarter of July bookings so far at Oasis Travel have been for departures this month. Managing director Sandra Corkin said bad weather was the “number-one” driver of last-minute bookings for the agency chain in Northern Ireland, where school holidays started at the end of June.

More: Trade prepares for summer peak disruption due to extreme weather events

Cold and wet weather boosts overseas holiday bookings

“People are fed up with the weather. Even when you look at the forecast for the next week, it’s raining every day. The weather is 90% of the reason for people booking holidays this month and next,” she said.

Dawson & Sanderson commercial and corporate director Judith Alderson said the agency was currently trading on a par with last year but stressed: “In the northeast we do tend to find the weather is our bigger driver for business. The election has not impacted it.”

The Advantage Travel Partnership chief commercial officer Kelly Cookes cited the weather as a “contributing factor” for strong late sales, with July taking 20% of volumes, and predicted the end of the Uefa European Football Championship on Sunday could further boost bookings.

“We know there is a portion of the market still holding off booking and the end of the Euros is likely to be another driver towards them making a decision on whether to book,” she said, adding: “We saw volumes increase week on week but there wasn’t a noticeable shift post-election.”

Idle Travel was busy on election day, but even busier on Saturday and Monday. Director Tony Mann reported a “good start” to July after a “slower June” compared with last year.

He added: “What could be better for travel agents than to start the month with rain? If it continues like this, I imagine we will have a couple of good weeks.”

He insisted the agency was still managing to find good-value deals for the summer holidays, both for all-inclusive and self-catering, despite there having been no “dramatic price drops” this year in the lates period.

Meanwhile, a poll of more than 2,100 people by travel insurer AllClear found that a record percentage (83%) want to get away for a holiday abroad this summer. This is up from 78% last June and 64% the previous year.

Beach holidays (45%), and a “chill-out hotel pool holiday” (30%) continued to top the list for summer 2024, with cruises remaining a popular choice among over-55s (11%). 

A resurgence in short city breaks and DIY holidays was also seen.

The popularity of Scandinavian countries has doubled over two years – up from 7% in June 2022 to 14% for this year’s summer holiday period.

Interest in eastern European countries is also rising – doubling year-on-year to 10% this summer.

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