The surge comes ahead of significant changes to travel due to be implemented on Monday.
These will see the removal of pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers and simplifies the traffic light system which will have just two travel categories – “red” and “rest of the world”.
Barrhead, which has 85 locations throughout the UK, said confidence to travel was at its highest level since March 2020 with “good pricing” on last-minute breaks helping to maintain confidence and boost bookings. Almost half of bookings in the last week are for departures in the next three months, it noted.
Turkey’s removal from the red list has prompted an increase in demand with the country making a return to the travel agency’s top five destinations this week. Other popular destinations for October getaways include Tenerife, Alicante and Majorca.
The agency, which was founded in 1975 and forms part of Travel Leaders Group, also reported a rise in bookings for US holidays since the confirmation that fully vaccinated UK citizens would be able to return for travel from November.
Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, said: “We’re finally seeing the changes we need for travel to become more accessible, more affordable and easier to comprehend. In turn, our customers have responded by snapping up last-minute deals to escape and will finally be able to enjoy sunshine and downtime.
“With half-term approaching, most of our last-minute bookings are families – many of whom haven’t been able to enjoy a family holiday abroad since 2019.”
Dobson said the simplified approach to travel rules had made a big difference to customer confidence.
“Since travel reopened in early summer, the main concerns from a customer perspective were the complex rules and the cost of testing,” she added.
“We’ve come a long way since then and it is really pleasing to see a more practical approach taken to travel guidance which is finally making imminent travel more accessible.
“We have very loyal customers who return to us time and time again but we’re now also seeing new clients through the door who have never used a travel agent before.”