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Published on Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bookings collapse as heatwave grips the country

Online travel agents have seen last-minute bookings for summer holidays drop more than 20% due to the heatwave, causing some to speculate that the weather will have almost the same devastating effect on the industry as the ash cloud crisis of 2010.

Thomson said its online sales were up 7% year on year despite the recent hot weathre, but On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said most major OTAs were reporting a severe decline in bookings, which he said was unlikely to pick up while the weather remains so good.

"To be honest few of us saw this coming, having expected a decent lates market without the distractions of Euro Football tournaments, the London Olympics or Royal Weddings," said Endacott in his latest blog.

When the ash cloud grounded flights across Europe in April 2010, Endacott said sales dropped by 25% as people delayed booking their summer holidays until flights resumed, but this time the business might not come back, he warned.

"Like most business owners in travel I have been desperately looking around for an explanation and an idea of how long this weak demand may last.

"Unfortunately my personal conclusion is that it will probably last as long as the heat wave does, and rather than delaying the booking decision, it may be simply removing customers from the market."

Endacott said the impact of the heatwave on holiday bookings had been compounded by the recession and the electronic evolution. While kids are happy hooked to their computers, PlayStations and TVs, parents are saving money by staying at home and sunbathing in the garden, he said.

"Like many parents I used to dread the long summer holidays and the difficulty of keeping kids entertained at home. However, these days with the advent of high speed internet, X-Box, play station, video on demand and Sky TV, kids have never been happier sitting at home enjoying the electronic world," he said.

"As an industry I think we should recognise this threat and push our hotel and tourist board partners on the importance of investing in free high speed Internet in all holiday hotels.

"If we cannot provide the connectivity our kids demand in life, don't be surprised if they start refusing to go on holiday with their parents to destinations that only offer a beach and a pool. It may have been good enough for us as kids, but it's clearly no longer good enough for this generation."


By Linsey McNeill


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