Demand for holidays is set to be huge after two years of Covid restrictions. Many firms have now released their special offers for breaks, with last minute bargains likely to be in short supply this summer.
David Norris, at Holiday Extras, said “Demand for holidays this year is going to be sky high, and last minute deals are likely to be scarce.
“If you’re going away this summer you should book ahead rather than rely on a last minute deal.”
Grahame Gorie, from Brooklyn Travel, said: “The general view is that there are lots of people who want to travel this summer and still haven’t booked.
“But this summer is already heavily booked so there will be far fewer last minute bargains.
“The message really is book now if you can. There is still some availability and a few deals.”
Bharat Gadhoke, at AITO - The Specialist Travel Association, said: “Offers do exist but there is less availability across the board due to pent up demand and the sheer volume of deferred holidays.
Popular “Many trips booked for 2020 were deferred multiple times. Now, finally, these holidays can be taken as planned two or more years ago.
“But this of course means that popular properties, and those with the most desirable amenities, such as swimming pools and sea views, are unlikely to be available in peak season.
“We must stress the need to book now to be in with a chance.”
Holiday giant Tui said it expected summer bookings this year to “almost reach” 2019 levels - but warned there will be “no last minute” low price deals.
The company said bookings had surged in the past six weeks as people planned for summer breaks after the easing of travel restrictions.
The impact of Covid and the Ukraine war on customer behaviour remained “difficult to predict”, the firm added.
Travel agency Opodo said Britons’ top five destinations currently booked are Spain’s Malaga, Alicante and Barcelona, Portugal’s Faro and Dublin.
Benidorm, in Spain, is also expected to be a popular choice.
Most sunseekers are looking to jet away in July, with 63 percent booked for then, compared to 37 percent for August. Bargain holidays are available already. A getaway to Turkey costs less than £300 per person, while a trip to the Greek island of Kefalonia is under £340 for one traveller.
Operators are tapping into the desire of travellers to book a summer overseas break without restrictions, particularly if there are generous discounts on offer.
But any special offers available this year are likely to be a fraction of the norm in price reduction terms, it was said. Flight prices could increase this summer, experts warned.
Airline bosses said the weakening of the pound, alongside the rising cost of fuel because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, will push up the cost of a seat in the coming weeks.
Alistair Rowland, chief executive of tour operator Blue Bay Travel, said: “The weakening of the British pound against most currencies, coupled with the rising cost of fuel pushing flight prices up, will inevitably make holidays more expensive for consumers this summer.
“It’s a situation that we anticipate will worsen as the months go on and we’re advising customers to book sooner rather than later to secure the best price.”
The phasing out of UK testing rules in February has resulted in growing demand for flights and holidays, but some countries still expect travellers to follow isolation and testing requirements.
On Tuesday, Heathrow said it had seen strong demand in April and forecast that passenger numbers will grow this summer.
But the UK’s biggest airport said demand would only hit 65 percent of pre-pandemic levels overall for the year as rising prices force customers to cut back.
Some British holiday hotspots are benefiting from the rise in flights. London has taken the top spot for domestic travel this year, likely because of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Tips to cut cost of a getaway
1. Mark a flight you’re interested in and Skyscanner will email you when the price goes down.
2. On average, save nine percent by flying out on a Friday. Also, the “whole month” search tool lets you see cheap flights instantly.
3. Swapping your usual break on the Costas for Croatia could prove a bargain. Let the algorithm decide with a search to “everywhere”.
4. Mix and match airlines and airports to cut costs. Fares don’t have to be booked as returns.