Company says more customers are booking ahead in the hope that Covid will be under control next year
Last modified on Tue 15 Jun 2021 07.24 EDT
Holiday bookings for summer 2022 are “significantly” ahead of normal, according to online travel agent On The Beach, as the prospect of a break in the sun this year recedes.
The Manchester-based company reported a 79% fall in revenues to £4.4m in the six months to 31 March, as it felt the effect of travel restrictions. Its adjusted pretax loss shrank to £21.6m from £34.1m, reflecting lower marketing spending.
Simon Cooper, the chief executive, said customers do not normally book holidays a year in advance but growing numbers are doing so now in the hope that the coronavirus pandemic will have been brought under control by then. Spain, the Canary islands, Greece and Turkey are popular destinations next year.
“Booking volumes for summer 2022 remain low, but are significantly ahead of normal trading patterns, partially due to the early release of flights for next year by most major airlines,” he said.
On The Beach decided on 12 May to stop selling holidays abroad for this summer amid uncertainty over travel restrictions. That day, the UK government added Portugal to its green list of countries that do not require travellers to quarantine upon their return, only to reverse the decision three weeks later, causing frustration in the industry and among holidaymakers who had already booked..
“Given the recent change in status of Portugal from green to amber, the board is pleased to have taken this decision early, so as to avoid customers suffering yet more turmoil and disappointment,” Cooper said.
The update comes a day after Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the final easing of coronavirus restrictions in England, a decision expected to deal a fresh blow to consumer confidence.
Cooper said the recovery in demand for holidays is “likely to take some time and the consumer environment will continue to be challenging”.
He welcomed a regulatory investigation into British Airways and Ryanair over their refusal to offer customers refunds for flights they could not legally take.
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