European OTA group lastminute.com says it is not seeing evidence of a booming market for staycations in the UK in its data.
The firm has reported resilient demand for overseas holidays from its users despite the imposition of travel bans and quarantine measures.
It claimed in September 94% of all package holiday bookings were for overseas destinations with Turkey and Greece topping the popularity charts.
Lastminute said this was a drop of just 3% on 2019 while the proportion of domestic hotel bookings rose by just 3% in 2020 (67% from 64%).
Marco Corradino, chief executive of lastminute.com, credited the travel and leisure industry’s efforts to guarantee customer safety for the trend.
“Consumer desires have evolved very rapidly in recent months. Rather than price, people are more preoccupied with their safety, and the industry has been pulling out all the stops to assure so many people of that,” he said.
Corradino added he expects booking habits to move away from long-term decision making to a “last chance mindset” which, he said, could prove to be a boon for the industry.
“Although holiday booking numbers are much lower overall than last year, when we look at the share of bookings by lead time, the proportion of bookings departing within the week is 200% higher than last year, as people evaluate the level of risk associated with each location.
“This last chance mindset could have a potentially positive impact on the industry with people leaping to take advantage of opportunities as they arise, rather than prioritising factors like cost.
“Some EU destinations could see an uptick in visitors at more unusual times of the year, rather than a big concentration in the summer months. Kos and Cyprus have both experienced more than a 50% hike in popularity since October last year, for instance.
“At lastminute.com, we’ve introduced measures that enable greater flexibility to accommodate this shift in behaviour, which we expect to continue for another year at least.”