On The Beach warns holiday bookings to be ‘weak’ until restrictions lift

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

Online travel firm On The Beach has warned that demand for summer holidays has been “very weak” as customers remain cautious despite the rollout of vaccines.

The London-listed firm said it expects booking demand to be low until “restrictions are lifted and vaccine deployment is more widespread, both in the UK and our major travel destinations”.

On The Beach said it, therefore, expects trading for the current half-year and full-year to be impacted.

The online travel agent, which is holding its annual general meeting later on Friday, said the November and January lockdowns, and further reductions in winter flying programmes have particularly weighed on customer demand.

UK traffic was down by 73% over the four months to January 31, it said, while bookings slumped by 83%.

However, On The Beach said it believes that, as restriction start to unwind, there is an “unprecedented opportunity” to gain market share and has therefore continued investment plans.

It said it will continue to hold off providing trading predictions for the current year “in light of the continued market uncertainties”.

Simon Cooper, chief executive of the group, said: “The first four months of our financial year have seen differing tiering levels across the UK, followed by the current nationwide lockdown and ban on international leisure travel.

“Clearly this has and continues to impact booking volumes and the board believes that booking volumes will remain weak through half one and half two.

“Following the prudent activities undertaken in the last financial year, the group remains in a strong and debt-free financial position.

“The board is confident about the group’s long-term strategy and we will continue to evaluate the growing range of exciting opportunities to build our market share both in the UK and internationally.”

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