News of Pfizer’s successful vaccine has seen holiday bookings surge, with enquiries shooting up 75 per cent in a week – as Brits also looked forward to activities they can enjoy after the second national lockdown.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary forecast a return to 75-80% of pre-crisis short-haul flight capacity by next summer as the travel industry takes off again.
And many companies reported interest being highest for the New Year after the vaccine’s mass roll-out in December – although health experts have urged caution and urged people to continue following restrictions.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary forecast a return to 75-80% of pre-crisis short-haul flight capacity by next summer as the travel industry takes off again
Luxury holiday company Best at Travel said inquiries had risen 75% week-on-week, with bookings for December up by 33%.
Explore, an adventure operator, reported a 71% increase, according to The Times.
Meanwhile a poll showed homegrown activities were also being coveted by the public, with walking in the Lake District and enjoying a cream tea in Cornwall their highest priorities.
The poll by London North Eastern Railway also showed 14 per cent of respondents were aiming for a romantic getaway with their partners.
O’Leary told the Pfizer vaccine news as the ‘first bit of sunshine we’ve had for the past 12 months’
Post-Vaccine lockdown dreams of the British
A survey by LNER revealed what British people were most looking forward to doing after lockdown
1. Walking in the Lake District 31%
2. Enjoying a cream tea in Cornwall 28%
3. Breathing in the fresh air in the Scottish Highlands 22%
4. Having a long windy beach walk in Devon 22%
5. Catching a show in the West End of London 20%
6. Eating ice cream on the beach in Brighton 16%
7. Shopping and visiting the Roman Baths in Bath 13%
8. Visiting historic York Minster 12%
9. Eating fish and chips from the wrapper in Suffolk 12%
10. Having a pint of bitter in Yorkshire 12%
11. Enjoying the rugged Northumberland coast 11%
12. Eating fresh seafood in Padstow 11%
13. Buying a souvenir on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh 9%
14. Seeing the deer in Richmond park 8%
15. Fossil hunting in Lyme Regis 8%
16. Having a pie and mash in East London 8%
17. Enjoying a curry in Birmingham 6%
18. Getting pampered in the Turkish baths, Harrogate 5%
19. Climbing to the top of Lincoln cathedral 5%
20. Punting down the River Cam 5%
Rail line managing director David Horne said: “It’s been a challenging year for all of us, but with news of the vaccine emerging this week, our research highlights just how eager people are to get back out discovering.
“It’s encouraging to see the appetite to explore the UK with the history and sights we have available, the vaccine will encourage explorers to come and find castles, cathedrals and coastlines on home soil.”
O’Leary had declared the vaccine news as the ‘first bit of sunshine we’ve had for the past 12 months’, as he upped his traffic forecast for next summer to 75-80% from the 50-80% range he had given eight days earlier.
‘There’s reasonable optimism now that summer 2021 will get back to some degree of normality,’ he told the WTM Virtual travel conference, a day after Pfizer said its experimental Covid vaccine was 90% effective in trials.
Shares in Ryanair – Europe’s biggest airline, jumped nearly 9.5% after Pfizer’s reaction, but O’Leary denied the stock market reaction had been premature.
‘The stock market tends to look forward anyway,’ he said. ‘It’s only one of three or four vaccines that will be licensed this side of Christmas and there are multiple vaccines in final, phase-three testing.’
He predicted Europe would see ‘an enormous snap-back’ in intra-European beach holiday travel as soon as confidence returns.
‘Mrs O’Leary is very keen to get back to the Algarve, and I suspect she’ll be there about 2.5 nanoseconds after the restrictions are lifted,’ he said.
‘Frankly I think she’s reflective of the overwhelming majority of Europe’s population.’
Other travel shares also benefited from Monday’s announcement, with BA’s parent group IAG shooting up 40 per cent to 146p amid a wider FTSE rally.
Many travel operators have already cancelled their Christmas schedules for this year, including Tui, which has put all its Lapland holidays on ice.
P&O Cruises has cancelled all bookings until spring next year but told MailOnline it had seen ‘strong demand’ for its 2022 schedule.
BA said it had also seen a rise in website inquiries.
Twitter users posted about booking holidays following the vaccine news. Holidays are currently outlawed in England due to the lockdown
Travel industry job losses due to Covid by date of announcement
May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We know customers want to travel and after this welcome news we saw an increase in the numbers of people on ba.com looking at flights to destinations like Dubai, Florida and New York.
‘We also saw a big rise in the numbers of customers looking at holidays to the Maldives, as well as the Caribbean, Orlando and Canary Islands for this year and next.’
Meanwhile, Twitter users posted about booking holidays following the vaccine news.
Holidays have been outlawed in England during this month’s lockdown, and when restrictions the previous system of quarantining countries with high infection rates is expected to return.
The restrictions have battered the holiday industry and sparked a wave of job losses across the sector.
Just 200,000 people flew into UK airports each month during April, May and June as thousands had to cancel holidays and remain at home in lockdown.
The opening of ‘air bridges’ to dozens of countries around the world in recent weeks then saw air traffic increase six-fold in July, though the 1.3 million arrivals represents just a tenth of the number who flew into Britain 12 months previously.
Ryanair planes parked on the tarmac before the closure of Brussels Airport at the start of the pandemic in March
EasyJet cut 4,500 jobs worldwide in May and was expected to cut a further 418 in Germany, almost halving its fleet in Berlin as a result of the cuts to its flight schedule.
BA, whose owner suffered a £5.1 billion loss in the first nine months of 2020, slashed a third of its global workforce, amounting to 12,000 roles.
Meanwhile, at least 20 travel companies with UK operations have collapsed since March, according to the industry body,
Last night travel industry figures told the Times they were cautiously optimistic about the Pfizer news but warned the government was ‘unlikely to have the confidence to open up travel’ until mass vaccination had been rolled out.
But Derek Moore, deputy chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, was more positive.
He said: ‘Perception is all-important to the travelling public and the news that there has been a vaccine breakthrough might well lift many people’s spirits, as indeed it has done for the market.
Positive news like this can give the travelling public a feeling that there might actually be light at the end of the tunnel, and at the moment that is more important than exactly when and how a vaccine will be available.’