Following the UK's government’s announcements on booking holidays, Dame Irene Hays, owner of Hays Travel has said the travel industry is braced for a comeback.
The Rt Hon Grant Schapps, Secretary of State for Transport, told BBC News: “This is the probably the first time I can say I’m not advising people not to book to go away this summer - instead I’m saying in two or three weeks you’ll have that green list of countries, amber and red, and people are going to be able to make their own decisions.”
Dame Irene said: “We are more optimistic now than we’ve ever been that people who want to travel safely can book holidays again as the whole country eases out of lockdown.
“The phones are ringing now and the shops are ready to open on Monday. Numbers of bookings at the moment are nothing like normal of course, but where there are fantastic offers – such as the fabulous round Britain cruises that are coming on stream at the minute – they’re being snapped up.
“What’s different is that more people are using a travel agent so that they get the best advice and support if things change, and the majority of customers are making plans for booking for late 2021 and 2022, taking advantage of guarantees like our Peace of Mind Guarantee and insurance to cover all eventualities.
“And we’ve just launched our own direct flights from regional airports to Barbardos for a Caribbean cruise in early 2023.
“Our staff are really looking forward to being back in their branches and meeting customers again albeit socially distanced. We’ll also continue to meet virtually – whatever is best for them.
“We will be monitoring the government advice closely and our staff are primed and ready to be first with the green light holidays for their customers.”
All Hays Travel’s shops in England and Wales will open from Monday 12th April and those in Scotland and Northern Ireland will open when the relevant government guidance allows.
Updated opening hours can be found on Hays Travel’s website here or on the local branch’s Facebook page.
Customers have rated Hays Travel at the top of holiday companies for surveys by Which? and Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert.com for the way they have been looked after throughout the pandemic.
As more of the world’s most glamorous cruise ships announce their Round Britain itineraries from May 2021, Hays Travel has been inundated with enquiries and has launched extra helplines on 0800 408 4229 and on-line registration for those who want the most up to date information on what is available.
A cruise around Britain is the nearest thing to being abroad on holiday – with a variety of bars, restaurants, theatres, spas, first class service, hospitality and entertainment on board. At the same time there is peace of mind – on most cruises, everyone on board will have been vaccinated and tested before boarding and physical distancing means ships will not be filled to capacity so won’t be overcrowded.
Ranging from 3 to 14 nights, there will be a huge variety of cruises setting sail from ports all over the UK including Tilbury (London), Southampton, Liverpool, Greenock (Glasgow), Portsmouth, Leith (Edinburgh), Newcastle, Hull and Dover. They’ll be taking in beautiful scenic landscapes and exciting city destinations around the coasts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and many will be as close to all-inclusive as possible. There’s a wide range of prices too, from ￡399 upwards and bookable by a deposit and payable by direct debit, as well as travel insurance to cover all eventualities.
Among the operators that have already confirmed cruise schedules are P&O, Princess, Cunard, Saga, Riviera Travel, Hurtigruten, MSC, Viking and Tradewind Voyages and Disney.
P&O’s new ship, Iona will make its maiden voyage and its flagship Britannia will be among the fleet around Britain’s shores this summer. Tradewinds’ magnificent new tall ship Golden Horizons will go on a south coast ‘dress rehearsal’ cruise in June as she makes preparations for her inaugural season.
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will be offering twelve new voyages, exclusive to UK guests. On some cruises, Saga will sail out of British waters to the Norwegian Fjords but will not dock at any international ports. Fred Olsen has two ships making maiden voyages - Borealis will be island hopping in the Hebrides and Bolette will head for the Channel Islands.