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Staycation bookings ‘up by 243%’ as customers complain of price hikes

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The chairman of South West Tourism Alliance Alistair Handyside with wife Lorna – he says large operators are’cashing in’ as lockdown restrictions come to an end

Travel companies have reported a huge surge in people booking staycations while some customers are reporting prices have doubled since the roadmap out of lockdown was announced.

Boris Johnson opened up the possibility of going on holiday again as he outlined his plan to end Covid restrictions in England on Monday.

Overnight stays in self-catered accommodation will be allowed for people in the same household or support bubble from April 12 at the earliest while trips involving multiple households could restart after May 17.

With continued uncertainty over when trips abroad may begin again, many are looking to stay in the country for their well-deserved break.

But some companies have been accused of ‘cashing in’ after interest went through the roof following the announcement.

A person trying to book a break with caravan operator Haven Holidays said the cost increased from £373 in the morning to £529 after Boris’ speech.

Another tweeted a picture of a £10,000 quote they’d been given for a stay in July in a three bedroom beach house. They alleged the same trip had been priced at £2,000 previously.

Others trying to book with the firm Skyes Cottages have described similar price rises, although the firm disputes some of the claims.

A tweet alleged the price of a caravan stay went up by £150 in a day
Another claimed their holiday was now going to cost £10,000

One woman who said she owned a holiday cottage being advertised on the site said the price for her let had gone up from £459 to £1,145. She said she had no control over the price.

Companies claim they are not hiking prices but merely that demand and a lack of availability has affected the pricing systems they use.

But the chairman of the South West Tourism Alliance, Alistair Handyside, told MailOnline many large operators are ‘cashing in.’

He said: ‘If you look at what some of the large agents are charging – for cottages – they are increasing their prices dramatically. I have seen that some are doubling the prices and that is not uncommon.

The chairman of South West Tourism Alliance Alistair Handyside with wife Lorna

‘Capacity is down. Lots of people have left the sector because they can’t cope with dealing with the Covid preparations or they have gone bust.

‘When there is less capacity and greater demand, you get price hiking. It was inevitable, but not at these levels.’

Dozens of holiday companies have reported a huge increase in demand after next-to-no business for months during lockdown.

Customers apparently jumped online to buy up holidays, even as Boris was outlining the plan in the Commons.

A let currently being offered by the firm Cool Camping, who say they’ve seen record numbers visiting the website (Picture: Cool Camping)

Cool Camping, which runs sites across the UK, saw an instant doubling in website traffic between 3 and 4pm on Monday followed by record numbers in the evening. 

A spokesman for the company told MailOnline: ‘By the end of the day, bookings were up by an incredible 1,500% on the same day last year.’

Another British holiday firm, Away Resorts, said it had seen an increase in web traffic by 165% and bookings were up 243% compared to the same time last year.

Chief Executive Carl Castledine said:’We have seen a huge surge in demand for our holidays which is welcome news after so many months of uncertainty.

‘To avoid disappointment, we would encourage those that want a staycation in 2021 to book early.’

Cornwall in South West England is one of the most popular destinations (Picture: Getty)

A spokesman for Skyes Cottages denied suggestions the firm has intentionally hiked its prices after the announcement.

He said: ‘We have not changed our approach to pricing and our holiday prices are and will always be competitive.

‘Like lots of other businesses throughout the travel industry, we operate a pricing system that automatically sets prices based on availability and demand.’

A spokeswoman for Haven Holidays didn’t deny that prices have gone up but disputed the ‘exaggerated’ claims being made on social media.

She said: ‘As a result of the lifting of lockdown restrictions we are experiencing an unprecedented demand in holidays. This has seen a huge interest in certain weeks of the year and, as always, we move our prices in line with demand.

‘Suggestions that these have been extensively increased are exaggerated and would encourage that comparisons are made like for like in terms of dates of stay and duration of holiday.

‘We do have some great deals available with value offers for breaks in April and May across a range of parks allowing people to get away with their family.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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