Surge in Devon and Cornwall holiday bookings linked to Covid-19 'vaccination confidence'

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Holiday tour operators in the West Country say they're seeing an unexpected growth in bookings, which they're putting down to 'vaccination confidence'.

Weston-super-Mare coach company Bakers Dolphin and National Express say they've seen a sudden rise in bookings for holidays to Devon and Cornwall from over-75s.

Firms are putting it down to "vaccine confidence" - but for now health bosses are still urging people to keep limiting their contact with others even after receiving a vaccine, as people are not immediately immune and can still spread Covid-19.

Amanda Harrington, from Bakers Dolphin, said: "We had a couple of clients today that have booked four holidays, one of them booked five holidays and they have literally just had their second jab. Without a doubt, they have felt very lonely and isolated."

Bakers Dolphin Coach Holidays has seen a surge in bookings Credit: Bakers Dolphin

Since releasing its new brochure, the coach holiday division of National Express says it took a week's worth of bookings in a day.

Jit Desai, of National Express, said 98 per cent of the firm's customer base is made up of over-65s, adding: "We’ve seen an increased appetite for travel in the last week or two with an uplift in enquiries and bookings every time there’s been an announcement about new vaccine approvals and the roll-out programme."

Its tour firms, which include Lucketts Travel and Woods Tours, have seen a 185% increase in bookings for Spring and Summer 2021 compared to figures for 2020.

Tourism organisation Visit Cornwall says it shows things are looking up for the industry.

Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall Malcolm Bell said: "I think the light at the end of the tunnel is giving people more confidence. These are also the ones that have been shielding and staying in more than anybody else, so I think there's a pent up demand after almost a year to be able to get away from your own local area."

Minack Theatre, Porthcurno Credit: ITV News

Visit Cornwall is also predicting there will be more demand for multi-generational holidays this summer, as many will have not had close contact with their family for over a year.

But people are still being told to limit contact with other people, even if they have had the vaccine.

When speaking about the opening of a new vaccination centre in Cornwall, Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Rachel Wigglesworth said: "The vaccine does not mean that you are immune immediately, so we can’t start hugging each other just yet, or stop following social distancing guidelines.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but in the meantime, we must keep our guard up."

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