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Holiday rentals remain on sale despite government warning

25 March 2020 by
Holiday rentals remain on sale despite government warning

Holiday rentals remained on sale on leading websites this week despite the government telling people to stay away from popular domestic destinations to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, popular rentals site HomeAway, which is owned by Expedia, had listings for more than 300 family properties in Cornwall for the first week of the Easter school holidays, despite the government having banned all but essential travel in the UK.

A search for the Lake District for the same week on Booking.com found multiple listings. The site was offering help to cancel reservations, but was not advising against travel.

Similarly, Airbnb had plenty of availability in the UK and users were being urged to book with messages like: “Only a few places left for your dates.”

In contrast, leading rentals website Cottages. com, which is owned by Hoseasons parent Awaze, announced it has stopped taking bookings for holidaymakers arriving before June 4.

A message posted on its site on Tuesday said: “Last night, the government issued further guidance around essential travel. In light of the updated guidance we are advising all customers travelling on or before April 30 to transfer their holiday dates.”

Sister brands Butlin’s, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels all suspended breaks until April 16.

Tourism minister Nigel Huddlestone said: “Our advice is clear. Essential travel does not include holidays, leisure travel and visits to second homes, and people must remain in their primary residence.

“Those not taking these steps put additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk and I call on the tourism industry to support this important work and not to encourage people to book holidays or staycations within the UK during these uncertain times.

“As soon as it is safe to do so we will be encouraging people to book a great British holiday and show our support to the UK’s travel industry, but at the moment people need to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Official UK government advice states: “Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, campsites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays.

“People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.”

Merilee Karr, chief executive of UnderTheDoormat and chairwoman of the Short Term Accommodation Association, of which Airbnb and HomeAway are members, said:

“At the STAA, we support following government guidance and encourage all companies in the sector to act responsibly in this difficult situation.”

Expedia and booking.com were approached to comment. Expedia declined to comment while booking.com has yet to respond. Attempts to get hold of Airbnb via its press office were unsuccessful, but a response would be welcomed.

This article originally appeared on The Caterer's sister site Travolution

Picture: Shutterstock

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