Staycation firms report boom following plan for end of lockdown
- Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN
Companies offering Suffolk staycations have seen a boom in bookings since the government unveiled its plan to ease lockdown restrictions this week, but foreign holiday bookings are lagging behind.
On Monday Boris Johnson announced that from April 12 self-catering accommodation will be able to reopen and the following month hotels and BnBs will follow suit.
Since then companies offering staycations in the region have seen a sharp uptick, with one reporting a booking per minute and another saying they received 10 times as many bookings as normal in the 24 hours following the prime minister's announcement.
Abi Charter, marketing manager at holiday cottage firm Best of Suffolk, said: "People didn't even wait until the 7pm briefing, our phones were ringing off the hook as soon as he announced the April 12 date in parliament.
"People were just so keen to have a holiday that when they heard the April 12 for single households they have been booking like crazy ever since."
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Ms Charter said the firm was receiving a booking per minute during the firms peak periods after the announcement.
Bookings for larger properties also increased for the period after May 17, when households can mix indoors.
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Hoteliers have also experienced a spike in bookings.
Paul Milsom, who runs a chain of hotels throughout Suffolk and north Essex, said: "We've seen a significant uptick in bookings since the announcement.
"I think the staycation market is going to be massively strong this year. People are chomping at the bit to come to hotels.
"We expect to have a very high occupancy rate. if you look back to when we could open last year we had occupancy rates of 95% and we're expecting it to be like that again."
Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams, said the firm's hotels and inns had taken 10 times more bookings in the 24 hours since the road map was announced compared to a typical day.
Despite these positive signs for domestic holiday providers Bridget Keevil, who runs independent travel agent Travel Stop, said customers were not booking foreign holidays.
She said: "We've had bookings for 2022 and 2023 — not loads, three or four a week maybe — so people are confident enough to book that far ahead. But they aren't particularly confident to book this year, at the moment.
"Looking at my emails this morning, EasyJet and Thomas Cook have all reported a surge in bookings. But, honestly, they all want everyone to think that everybody else is booking so that if they don't hurry up and book they're gonna miss out.
"I think it's a bit of marketing speak, lets say."