Surge in bookings for holiday firm

A TRAVEL firm has seen a surge in holiday bookings during the weekend. The Leader reported last week how a number of short-haul flights to European countries are expected to resume in July as part of a bid to kick-start the tourist economy. Also known as travel corridors, air bridges will allow Britons to go on holiday to certain destinations without needing to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK.

Hays Travel, which has branches in Wrexham and Flintshire, has seen bookings increase "gradually" over the last week, but had a significant increase over the weekend. Don Bircham, managing director for Hays Travel North West, said: "It's fair to say that Friday and Saturday were very good on the back of the suggestion of the air bridges. "We are still waiting for clarification on which countries will be part of that scheme.

"At some points in April and May, we took about five per cent of what we were doing last year - but by comparison we took about 40 per cent on Friday and the weekend. "It certainly shows there is a renewed interest in bookings and we're very confident that it will get better." Speaking of the impact the pandemic has had on Hays Travel and his expectations for the near future, Mr Bircham said: "It has been the most challenging time in the history of our company without a doubt.

"March, April and May have been catastrophic and it's been a case of dealing with amendments, cancellations and customers' frustrations. "The vast majority of bookings for this summer have been affected in some form. "But people have been booking for winter and next summer. "In the north west, we now have half of our shops open and the remaining half will open this Friday."

On the impact the situation has had on staff, he added: "We've had a number of staff working from home, answering phones. "We have also used the furlough scheme and that has helped enormously. "We're now bringing a big percentage of them back and that is really positive for them.

"Getting back into the routine of coming into work is very positive for them and great for their mental wellbeing.

"We have absolutely no intention of making any staff redundant - in face assuming things move positively, we have plans to recruit later in the year."

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