Holiday prices rise as sun-seekers give up on Irish summer

Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 01:00

TRAVEL AGENTS across the State say they are inundated with requests for last-minute breaks in the sun as people finally give up on the Irish summer.

Agents are struggling to meet demand for holidays before the end of August and there are few bargain breaks available.

Callers seeking a break in the sun for about €300 a week are likely to be disappointed: prices are averaging twice that amount. And high-season prices look like holding well into September.

Falcon Holidays, which has more than 30 shops and franchises, said it can offer only cancellations to people wishing to get away this weekend.

Charlotte Brenner, marketing manager with the company, said that as soon as a cancellation comes in to the system, it is quickly snapped up. “The urgency to get away is new to this year,” she said.

Requests began coming in for family breaks when the first week of the school holidays was quite wet, she says, and the demand has continued since.

And families who could not get the holiday they wanted have already begun booking for summer 2013. “They are not going to make the same mistake they made this year.”

Declan O’Connell, managing director of Lee Travel in Cork, said calls were coming in from people who had planned to spend their upcoming holidays in Ireland but who had changed their minds.

The company was also receiving inquiries from people already holidaying in Ireland – perhaps in a caravan in Youghal, Co Cork, he said. They are looking out at the rain and wanting to get out of the country for their second week.

“It is without a doubt busier than last year,” he said.

People expecting to be quoted May prices are disappointed, he said, but those with “realistic expectations” are getting away.

“They are finding the money somewhere . . . I don’t know what it is about Cork, we used to get great weather, but we’ve had an awful run of it this year.”

Limerick Travel business manager Shane O’Donoghue said the numbers of people travelling abroad are “way bigger than this time last year”.

“People are calling not caring about the destination; sun is the priority. They just want a week in the sun before the kids go back to school,” he said.

“They are sick of the weather and the idea of a staycation this year in Kerry or Cork is just not appealing.”

In Galway, Lynn Casey, senior travel consultant with Fahy Travel, said they had virtually nothing left to offer people seeking to leave at the weekend. There are no excess seats available. “People cannot believe there aren’t loads of holidays left – they say ‘it’s a recession’,” she said.

“They want to pay €300 a week but their needs can’t be met.”

Director of Skytours in Dublin, Sarah Slattery, said even early September is busy, “which is quite unusual”, and so prices are staying up.