Home Business Last-minute summer holiday bookings rise as Brits flee rain

Last-minute summer holiday bookings rise as Brits flee rain

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Record rain in the UK is leading to a rise in last-minute holiday bookings, travel agencies report.
Bookings in July for travel in August more than quadrupled, according to Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents about 20% of travel agents.
The BBC spoke to 11 major travel agencies and most had seen a rise in bookings during the UK's rainy summer.
One last-minute booker is hairdresser Kate Lodge, who said she will "pay whatever" for a holiday abroad.
The mum from Eastbourne said she just wants to have a holiday where she and her son can get some sun.
"You can't really get cheap last minute holidays any more," she said.
"But I don't want to book time off for my holiday and for it to be raining all week. I'm wearing winter clothes and it's August. I don't mind what it takes, I'll be getting on the plane."
Lucy Hancock, a customer at the salon, said she did the same in July, taking a last-minute trip to Italy.
"The weather was looking pretty iffy that week. My daughter was off school, so rather than her just lying around being on her phone all day we decided to do a quick five-day trip," she said.
As Lucy gets her hair done, she explains she would never have considered having a UK summer holiday this July. Covid prevented her from going away in the previous years, and this year the weather was too temperamental.
For some people, travelling now may be out of the question. The cost-of-living crisis has hit families hard, and package holidays, flights and hotels are more expensive this year than ever. Some holiday makers are opting for all-inclusive deals in a bid to keep costs under control.
Firefighters are battling to control wildfires in Portugal, after fires in Greece ruined many people's holidays in July. Concern over climate change has also raised questions over how often we should fly.
Prices are up on last year, and Sean Tipton from the travel association Abta said many destinations didn't have much availability left. That means less choice for people searching for short notice deals.
"You can get them if you are flexible, not too fussed about which country, which destination – but I'd also recommend thinking about going in September, October, even November," he said.
Other travel agents said intense heat and wildfires were already making some customers consider autumn getaways instead.
Julia Lo Bue-Said runs Advantage Travel Partnership, a network of independent travel agents. She told the BBC 18% of bookings within the last month have been for travel in August, a much higher proportion than the 4% she would normally expect.
The end of travel restrictions following the pandemic means this year bookings are higher than last year. But the BBC spoke to 11 major travel agencies, and most said they have also noticed a peak in last-minute bookings specifically during the rainy summer months.
OnTheBeach told the BBC that fewer people had booked holidays during June when the UK was enjoying a mini-heatwave. "But as soon as we experienced a wet July, bookings increased," the operator said.
A spokesperson for Jet2 said the weather led their customers to become more flexible over their holiday destination. "More people are simply looking to get away this summer and swap the UK weather for some sunshine, regardless of the destination," they said.
Trevor Ridler, regional manager for Fred Olsen Travel Agent in Eastbourne, said he had seen last-minute bookings rise 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels, despite cost-of-living pressures.
"People are still wanting that holiday and they are willing to make sacrifices to get that.
"For many clients, the holiday is the most important thing. Maybe over that bit of decorating."
Additional reporting by Katy Austin and Hope Bolger.
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