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Though the announcement of a vaccine, reported to be more than 90 percent effective, shows a glimmer of hope that the international tourism industry may reclaim some of its former glory, it seems some elements of 2020 could be here to stay.
One thing that has seen a huge transition is the way in which holidaymakers book.
As the year progressed, many travellers saw their plans fall apart.
Even once travel corridors took hold, nothing was certain, with some Britons left suddenly facing a mad dash home if they were to avoid impending quarantine rules.
In contrast, countries suddenly given travel corridors saw a rapid surge in bookings.
According to Travel Supermarket expert Emma Coulthurst, this “last-minute” style is something that, even with the help of the latest vaccine developments, could be here to stay.
“I think it will continue. There will be an element of people waiting and seeing and going closer to the date,” she told Express.co.uk.
As travel corridor sprung up and vanished in succession, Ms Coulthurst says that Travel Supermarket saw people making bookings “much closer” to their departure date.
It was something she herself chose to do.
“That is with countries going back on the list. That is when you will see last-minute bookings,” she said.
“So, when Crete went back on the list I booked and I went 36 hours later.
“That will continue to happen because also when a country goes back on the list if you get in quickly there are some absolute bargains to be had.”
However, the dawn of the vaccine has shown promise for the future.
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Ms Coulthurst says the travel firm has “really seen an uptick” since the announcement, and she believes things will only get better from here.
The seven-day period, Monday to Monday, from the initial Pfizer vaccine announcement, saw a 64 percent increase in bookings for Travel Supermarket.
“We’re seeing bookings coming through for December, January, April, May predominantly,” she said.
“Families are looking for Easter. I reckon that’s because any families I know, they didn’t necessarily get away abroad this year and they need a chance to do that.
“When you are starting to get better weather and testing and things should hopefully be in a better place to enable travel without so much fear of quarantine on return.”
However, as the demand for travel increases, the expert shared a warning for those who may be hoping to book at the last minute.
“I think holidays as demand comes back then holiday prices will naturally increase,” she said.
“I guess there is always those few who are more cautious, but if you’re going to be more cautious, like we always say, if you are going to wait until the summer you might not have as much choice or the prices might have gone up but it is a risk you take.”
Ms Coulthurst believes the future of travel is a “moving picture”, but she remains hopeful that demand will continue.
“I mean Britons love holidays. I can’t think of a country in Europe that love holidays more than we do,” she said.
Looking back to the rapid increase in bookings following travel corridor announcements, Ms Coulthurst believes there is a “pent up demand” – one that could well return with the help of a vaccine and further testing breakthroughs.
“I have not been put off travelling,” she said.
“I have travelled a lot this summer and had amazing experiences.
“I think I am going to start looking again and start planning. So, I think the vaccines made me think about rejuvenating my holiday plans again as well.”
For those who are feeling confident enough to book a holiday in the coming weeks, the Travel Supermarket expert has some advice.
“Holiday prices have been incredibly low this year and they continue to be,” she said.
“Package holidays were available during the summer from as little as £95pp for 7 nights self-catering in the Med.
“Prices like this haven’t been seen for over 20 years!
“Travel is vastly down this year vs 2019.
“Due to the reduction in people travelling, there continue to be some fantastic holiday prices available to book at the moment. There is an argument that it pays to grab these prices, while they are available.”
With that said, she added: “If you book now, you may find that your holiday has to be cancelled if measures are in place for the destination which you are going to which prevent you from travelling.
“The trajectory of the virus is difficult to predict. So, you may prefer to wait until closer to your intended departure date to book in the hope of mitigating that risk.
“Only you will know what you feel most comfortable with.”
Yet, even with the potential for changes and risks ahead, Ms Coulthurt remains hopeful for the future of travel.
“As we know, as this virus goes along, we get better at dealing with it and understanding it,” she said.
“It can only get more positive.
“The news on the virus and on the vaccine, it’s not going to go backwards, it is only going to go forwards.
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