Speed of the vaccine rollout has led to surge in over 50s booking holidays

Many who have had the vaccine are already booking holidays. Credit: PA images.

Holiday firms in the South West have seen a spike in bookings from older people who are planning their long-awaited trips as the coronavirus vaccine is rolled out. 

The UK's largest tour operator, TUI, said half of bookings so far this year have been made by over-50s - an age group that "wasn't coming through" previously.

Portishead travel agent Miles Morgan said destinations like Spain and Greece, and cruise ships, are proving particularly popular.

He said: "There seems to be an awful lot of confidence in people booking cruises. You might have seen SAGA announce that you need to have a vaccination to go on their cruises.

"I think that has probably given a lot of older people a reassurance when booking."

Exeter agent Rob Hitchings said countries considered to have good health systems are also being looked at as possible destinations.

"Countries like Japan are very popular after lots of exposure during the 2019 rugby world cup and the Olympics that's hopefully going to go head this summer," he said.

But for people looking for holidays closer to home it seems glamping could be an attractive choice this year.

Cruise ships have anchored in Tor Bay - the biggest fleet in the bay since the coronavirus lockdown began. Credit: Guy Henderson

The surge in bookings is good news for one Dorset business who said demand for shepherd's huts and cabins has soared throughout lockdown.

Plankbridge, based near Dorchester, has seen a jump in orders as people look to create home offices or turn their land into glamping spots.

The company began creating designs inspired by the original Victorian shepherd's huts around 20 years ago and now offers a range of huts, cabins and bespoke options.

Their cabins on wheels can feature double beds, bathrooms, and kitchens as well as hot tubs and covered areas outside.

The workshop is based out of Piddlehinton in Dorset. Credit: Plankbridge Shepherd's Huts

Richard Lee, owner of the company, said they have came back and hit the ground running.

"Half of what we are doing is people wanting more room for home offices or for an extra bedroom because they are at home.

"Half is people setting up glamping sites or expanding existing sites.

"Many of these are people who have had the time to think and re-evaluate and decided to run a glamping business.

"The demand is there and people are feeling it and seeing it and going down that path, which they probably wouldn't have thought of before lockdown."

The company has experienced such demand that it has employed a further eight staff, with the local team growing from about 19 to 27 people.

Each hut usually takes between three to four months to make but Plankbridge is now at capacity, meaning orders placed now are likely to be completed in July or August.

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