Holidays: Over 50’s warned to ‘remain cautious’ after ‘surge’ in post-vaccination bookings

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Hope for the return of holidays in 2021 has been sparked by the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, and with around three million people across the UK already vaccinated, experts are already seeing a spark in consumer confidence. However, amid what is being described as a “surge” in bookings by over 50s, one expert has issued a warning.

Holiday firm Saga says it has experienced a “notable increase” in bookings coming from travel-hungry over 50’s, many of who will receive the vaccine first as part of the ongoing rollout.

According to Government data, so far, more than three million people have received their first jab.

The latest statistics showed a further 316,694 people have been given the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, increasing the total to 3,234,946.

A total of 2,769,164 first doses have been administered in England, as well as 224,840 in Scotland, 126,375 in Wales, and 114,567 in Northern Ireland.

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Saga believes many of these people, as well as those due to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, are looking “ahead to future adventures”.

“2022 is up over 90 percent on the same period last year suggesting an appetite to go on ‘once in a lifetime’ holidays,” states the travel firm’s findings.

Saga also reports a 16 percent increase in traffic to its website, with a 98 percent increase in conversion to sales.

“Those searching for trips are now more confident to book,” it states.

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Chris Simmonds, Saga’s Chief Executive of Holidays, has said that the people over 50 are “hungry to travel”, with once-in-a-lifetime trips next winter to destinations such as Uzbekistan and Uganda proving particularly popular, adding that Saga’s customers are “very adventurous and thinking about spoiling themselves.”

UK and Ireland trips are also seeing an increase in interest.

However, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel warns travellers within the age bracket to proceed with some level of caution.

“While it’s positive to see demand for travel and holidays picking up again, it’s vital that people remain cautious about making bookings in the coming months, even if they have received a vaccine,” he said.

“Other countries may not have been able to vaccinate enough people to deem travel safe again, and so entry to these destinations may be restricted for some time to come.

“This could leave people out of pocket if their airline doesn’t cancel their flight, or waiting for their money back if their holiday is cancelled.

“Anyone considering booking a holiday for later in the year should do so with caution, and only book with a travel operator that has very flexible booking terms, to ensure their money is protected if anything prevents the holiday from going ahead as planned.”

The good news is, most travel operators have amended their booking policy following the coronavirus pandemic.

Saga, for example, has instated its “Book with Confidence” policy.

According to the holiday firm’s policy: “Our flexible cancellation cover is there should you need to cancel due to a variety of medical conditions, including coronavirus, prior to departure.”

It adds: “Book your holiday by February 28, 2021, and you can amend at no additional cost if you wish to change your holiday plans.”

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