Fewer than one per cent of holiday cottages are still available in some staycation hotspots after the removal of Portugal from the travel green list sparked a surge in bookings.
Travellers who landed in the UK after 4am on Tuesday are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days after the Government took the country off its green travel list.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said the decision was due to rising infection rates in Portugal and fears over new variants.
"We just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation and we simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of unlock," Mr Shapps said.
Watching Britons scramble to return before the deadline may have "scared people off going abroad" and caused a surge in staycation books, according to one travel boss.
Travel countries on the red, green and amber list
Richard Beaman, the managing director of CornwallsCottages.co.uk, said just three of its 375 cottages were available for the beginning of July, with only a "handful" of properties available for the rest of the school holidays.
The website also saw a 45 per cent increase in visitors on Thursday compared to the week before.
Moving Portugal off the green list has "absolutely refocused people’s mind on a staycation, and the fact people have been caught out in Portugal has scared people off going abroad," Mr Beaman said.
"A staycation is an easier option. The whole situation is crazy, the Government is making international travel very difficult," he added.
Toad Hall Cottages, which has over 900 properties in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the New Forest, said just one property was available for the last week of July.
For the week beginning Sept 22 – when bookings usually start to tail off for the season – 22 properties were still available to book, just two per cent of the company’s portfolio.
"People need to act fast," a Toad Hall spokesman said. "Pretty much the only way to find a cottage for this summer is to keep an eye on our, and our competitors’, social media for new properties coming on.
"However, often we prepare these for social media and by the time we’ve written the post they’re booked up."
Sykes Holiday Cottages, which has more than 16,000 holiday homes throughout the UK and Ireland, said bookings had jumped 27 per cent since Portugal was removed from the green list compared to the four days before.
Simon Altham, the group chief commercial officer at Awaze, the parent group of cottages.com, said: "We already knew 2021 was going to be a year like no other for the domestic holiday industry, but last week’s green list news seems to have convinced even more people to abandon any hope they had of getting away this summer and lock in a staycation instead."
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