AN Oldham travel agent says business is taking off again after the easing of Covid travel rules triggered a ‘massive surge’ in bookings.

Don Bircham, the managing director of Hays Travel North West, which runs a store in Oldham, says the changes announced by the UK government have opened the floodgates to meet the pent up demand for holidays in the sun.

Popular destinations include Greece, Turkey, Spain, the Balearic and the Canary islands along with Florida. There has also been a spike in demand for cruises.

Mr Bircham said: “The first part of January was very slow but there has been a massive surge in bookings after the news from the UK Government that travel restrictions were being eased.

“The fact that you only need a lateral flow test on return rather than a pre departure test and a PCR on return has given customers the confidence to fly again.”

He added: “In normal times this is our busiest period because of the January blues after Christmas so the next fix is to get that summer holiday booked and have something to look forward to.

“With the announcement about the easing of the testing rules, we’re really optimistic that there are better times ahead.”

The experience of Hays Travel is mirrored at Jet2 who say demand has returned to "around pre-Covid levels" and EasyJet who saw a 200 per cent increase in bookings.

Mr Bircham has also noticed an increase in holiday makers using high street travel agents due to the security, expert advice and help they can provide.

He said: “We’re confident now we’re getting back to something like normality and, if there is a bump in the road with certain countries, we have some guarantees and some comfort that we can take care of it and offer alternative destinations.

“A lot of people have had their fingers burnt in the past couple of years, but they know they are in safe hands with a proper travel agency, so if they are booking an expensive holiday they can have real peace of mind.”