International vacation bookings soared as much as 600% after the U.K. unveiled its plan to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope of bouncing back thanks to the summer season.
EasyJet said flight bookings from the UK soared by more than 300% and vacation bookings rose by more than 600% week-on-week after the government announced on Monday that travel could resume from mid-May, while vacation firm TUI said its vacation bookings rose by 500%, Reuters reviewed.
This summer is critical for many airlines and tourism companies struggling to survive after almost a year without revenue due to pandemic-related restrictions. If business does not resume, many will need additional funds after depleting their cash reserves.
Shares in UK-listed travel companies were buoyed by a surge in new bookings on Monday night and Tuesday, despite uncertainty over how and when international routes will reopen.
Shares in easyJet were up 9%, while both IAG, which owns British Airways, and TUI and Jet2 gained 6%, and Ryanair advanced 3%.
Although British tourists are some of the biggest spenders in Europe, the presence of a more infectious variant of the coronavirus in the UK could put some countries on their guard. France and Spain have closed their borders to most British travelers because of these variants.
British travelers will know more on April 12, when the government will publish a travel assessment. UK has already said the ban on most international travel will remain in place until at least May 17.
EasyJet said travel from the UK to beach destinations such as Malaga, Alicante and Palma in Spain, Faro in Portugal and Crete, in Greece, were the most sought-after destinations with the most tourists interested in traveling in August. July and September were the next most sought-after months.
TUI noted that destinations in Greece, Spain and Turkey were the most booked overnight, with the most interest in travel starting in July.
By Sarah Young; edited by Paul Sandle and Susan Fenton, translated by Flora Gomez.