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Autumn holiday bookings surge amid summer travel uncertainty

Autumn holiday bookings surge amid summer travel uncertainty
Image source: Getty Images


Summer is usually the most popular time for people to holiday abroad. But according to new information from travel companies, uncertainty over international travel is causing UK holidaymakers to put off their summer holiday plans and book autumn getaways instead.

When will international travel resume?

While domestic travel reopened on 12 April, international travel for leisure remains banned. It’s not expected to resume until at least 17 May as per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

However, the plan to allow international travel will depend on the global evolution of the pandemic. As a result, there’s no guarantee that travel will actually resume on the day we expect.

When the ban on foreign travel is lifted, the government plans to implement a traffic light system that will divide countries into three categories: green, amber, and red, with countries in the red category facing the most stringent travel restrictions.

We probably won’t know the list of countries in each category until nearer 17 May. The list is likely to be subject to change with time.

Why are people opting for autumn holidays?

The UK’s vaccine roll-out has been successful. However, this has not been the case in the EU and many other countries around the world.

Consequently, a growing number of Brits have lost hope of a foreign holiday until later in the year, according to The Times.

At Club Med, October half-term bookings are up by 80% compared with the same period in 2019.

At Thomas Cook, bookings for autumn holidays are up 50%, according to the BBC, with the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Santorini and Mykonos being among the most popular autumn destinations.

Another tour operator, Kuoni, says that the majority of its 2021 sales have been from October onwards. 

It says that most customers have written off any hope of a summer getaway and are holding out for October. Popular destinations among the company’s customers include the Maldives and the Caribbean.

Similarly, British Airways has also reported a spike in searches for trips to long-haul beach destinations this autumn.

Meanwhile, travel deals website Travelzoo is predicting that September and October will be big months for travel, according to the BBC.

If the current trend continues, then the prices of popular destinations that remain open for travel in autumn are likely to rise considerably.

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Should I book an autumn holiday?

The main advantage of booking an autumn holiday now is that you could score a great deal before prices potentially go up as more people scrap their summer holiday plans in favour of autumn.

The risk, however, is that that there is still no guarantee that international travel will be possible this autumn.

Anything from government restrictions in both the destination country and the UK to the failure of your travel operator could scupper your plans.

However, with a package holiday, where your flight and accommodation are booked as a single transaction, there is less risk of you losing money.

Package holiday groups are required to make refunds or allow you to rebook if a holiday can’t go ahead due to government action or if the firm goes out of business.

If you decide to commit yourself financially for a break later in the year, consider paying with a credit card.

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the card provider is jointly liable for ensuring that you get what you paid for. So, if your holiday can’t go ahead, you may be able to claim a refund from the credit card company.

Finally, think about getting travel insurance. Depending on your policy, travel insurance may cover you if your trip can’t go ahead due to government action. But read the fine print before signing to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

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