Britons are scrambling to book holidays, with record sales reported after lockdown restrictions on overnight stays were finally lifted.
Luxury lodge specialist Hoseasons recorded one booking every 11 seconds in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Wednesday.
After months of home quarantine, the Government said that, from July 4, people will be allowed to stay in self-contained accommodation including hotels, B&Bs and campsites – as long as shared facilities can be kept clean.
The guidance applies only to England, but self-catering holiday accommodation in Northern Ireland will open again on Friday, and hotels will follow on July 3.
A decision will be taken in Wales on July 9, with the Scottish Government reviewing its own lockdown restrictions on the same day.
With international travel still restricted to essential journeys, millions of UK residents are expected to book “staycations” in their own country this summer.
Hoseasons and cottages.com both smashed their previous record sales days on Tuesday, the firm said.
Hoseasons’ year-on-year sales were up 270% by the end of the day, with sister company cottages.com reporting a 455% increase as both brands smashed their previous record sales days.
Simon Altham, chief commercial officer of Awaze UK – the parent company of both brands – said: “We were expecting greater levels of interest, but the surge in demand was still surprising and we certainly hadn’t expected a record day.
“Over the last few weeks we’ve seen volumes of inquiries and bookings increase on a daily basis, as people begin to become more confident about booking a UK holiday.
“Government confirmation seems to have just given people an extra level of certainty.
“All the evidence suggests that holidays remain a priority for most people, and this year more than ever the chance to get away is something customers are very much looking forward to.
“July and August are likely to be very busy as a result, but we’re also expecting greater than usual levels of demand for September and October too as the season extends.
“At the moment holidaying closer to home is good for the soul and the UK economy.”
According to VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, figures show that £19.3 billion was spent by British residents on 97.4 million overnight trips in England in 2018, with £53 billion spent on 1.4 billion domestic tourism day trips.
James Warner Smith, from Cool Camping, which focuses on independent glamping and camping sites, said bookings on Tuesday had increased by 750% compared with the same day last year.
He said: “It’s been crazy. We saw an immediate surge with some of the highest traffic ever on our website.
“Yesterday saw the most bookings we’ve ever had in a day.”
He said bookings were up again on Wednesday, suggesting the “spike” is more of a surge, with many people who have had holidays cancelled or who have unused leave looking to book something.
He added: “People, after a long time at home, are looking forward to going somewhere new.”