Holiday bookings jump despite confusion over rules

Holiday bookings jump despite confusion over rules

The government is sending “a confusing message” on whether people should book summer breaks, travel industry chiefs have told the BBC.

Holiday firms are “on their knees” and it is “imperative” that they can count on a good summer, said Visit East of England chairman Andy Wood.

But Cornwall’s Eden Project boss David Harland said he felt “cautious optimism” despite the uncertainty.

“People have been booking and they should book with confidence,” he said.

The two travel professionals were reacting to a series of statements from government ministers suggesting that it was unclear whether summer holidays could go ahead because of the pandemic.

On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC there was still “a lot of uncertainty”, but added that he had booked his own summer break in Cornwall “months ago”.

He was speaking a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps both said it was “too early” to be sure about booking getaways.

Hours after Mr Shapps’ comments, senior travel industry figure Sue Ockwell, of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), told the BBC he was being “puerile and nonsensical”.

Visit East of England’s Mr Wood echoed the Eden Project chief executive’s positive view of demand for summer holidays, saying: “We’re seeing strong bookings and that’s really important.

“Being able to count on a good summer is really imperative for businesses, because we don’t want them taking decisions to cut jobs.

“The tourism industry’s got millions of jobs in it, it’s worth about £130bn in sales to the UK, so it’s a vital sector.”

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