A BOLTON travel agent has reported a surge in bookings following the easing of Covid restrictions on international travel.

Hays Travel, which has stores in Bolton town centre, Horwich and Westhoughton, has now seen trade return to around pre-Covid levels as holiday makers around the borough prepare to go abroad again.

Most of the new bookings have been for traditional destinations such as Greece, Turkey, Spain and the Canary Islands.

Managing director Don 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.

"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 book 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.

"It’s given people a lot more confidence to start booking their holidays and thing are really taking off.

"There is a huge pent up demand from people who are fed up to the back teeth and desperate for a break somewhere warm."

The experience of the Bolton travel agent, which has 50 branches across the region, is mirrored by similar companies like Jet2 and EasyJet, which has seen a 200 per cent increase in bookings.

Mr Bircham says he believes lockdown may have increased people's appetite for travel.

"There are lots of people wanting to tick off things on their bucket list because so many people have re-evaluated their lives as a consequence of the pandemic.

"People have been thinking long and hard about what life is all about and there’s a lot of grandparents who’ve got a few quid in the bank who want to take the kids and the grandkids away on an expensive, dream family holiday."