Leading travel experts are warning consumers to book their summer 2011 holidays sooner rather than later after one of Britain’s largest tour operators, Thomas Cook added £160 to the cost of a long haul holiday for a family of four, blaming the rising price of oil.
The rise will appear across the board and includes their brands, Airtours, Manos, Sunset, Club 18-30 and Neilson, and will apply to all bookings made after the 1st March. The rise is a huge blow for families already struggling to afford holidays during difficult financial times.
Thomas Cook has added a £40 per person surcharge on to all holidays entailing a flight of over seven hours which included trips to the USA and Caribbean. A charge of £25 has been added to mid haul holidays consisting of flights ranging from three to seven hours, for example, holidays to Egypt, and holidays to destinations less than three hours away have incurred a surcharge of £15 per person. This would increase a family holiday for four to destinations such as Spain and the Balearic Islands by £60.
Thomas Cook state the surcharge is unavoidable as fuel prices have increased by 40% since last year and have added the charge despite having agreed a price in advance, known as hedging, for 83% of their fuel.
Some airlines have also been imposing fuel surcharges and British Airways and Iberia (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh has warned that the cost of flying is set to rise.
Consumer Travel Editor Nick Trend admitted that tour operators had been put in a very difficult position; he stated “They are already finding it hard to attract bookings during the economic downturn. Raising prices will only make it more difficult. Ironically operators may be forced to cut prices again if consumers play a waiting game, and they are left with unsold holidays in the early summer.”
Travel experts also believe that it is only a matter of time before other leading tour operators follow suit, especially with the current political instability in Libya, one of the world’s major oil producers. So if you are looking forward to getting away this year, book your summer 2011 holidays now, and you might just save yourself a bit of money.