Travel show sees holiday bookings soar

Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 00:00

The Holiday World Show opened yesterday in the RDS, Dublin, to queues of people hoping to bag a bargain from over 800 stands representing 70 countries, plus travel agents, tour operators, hotels, airlines, motor homes and destinations.

Queues formed at stands such as cruise broker E-travel.ie, Emirates airline, Thomas Cook, Sunway, Gohop.ie, American Holidays, and Cassidy Travel, where staff were busy all day taking bookings. Many exhibitors are offering discounts to encourage people to make early bookings, including Irish hotels and tourism providers.

There has been an increase in bookings this year: all Irish Travel Agents’ Association (ITAA) members are reporting double-digit increases on last year, some as high as 90 per cent. “Last weekend was the best weekend for travel bookings in years,” said Pat Dawson, ITAA chief executive.

“It’s like the old days, before the Celtic Tiger,” said ITAA president, Claire Dunne.

“The big difference this year is that people are making bookings, putting down deposits, and planning to pay by instalments. Few people are paying by credit card. Value for money is also top of the list for people, with all-inclusive and cruise holidays selling well.”

Hot destination

The top destination this year will again be Spain, which 1.2 million Irish people visited last year. Javier Garrigues, the Spanish ambassador, said, “proportionally to population, the Irish provide the highest number of visitors to Spain and last year spent €1.1 billion on Spanish holidays, a 4 per cent increase on 2011”. New flights from Ireland West Airport Knock and Kerry to Majorca will increase access this year.

Airlines are reporting strong sales in January, particularly on transatlantic routes, where a capacity increase of 20 per cent for the Gathering “is encouraging people to take the holidays they put off for the past few years ”, said Yvonne Muldoon of United Airlines. Airtransat has increased summer services to Canada to five flights a week to Toronto and one to Montreal.

Aer Lingus is reporting good sales on the traditional holiday routes to Malaga, Lanzarote, Faro and Dubrovnik, and new route Corfu is booking well.

The general feeling is that the doom and gloom is lifting slightly, though budgets will still be tight . The show runs today and tomorrow 11am– 5.30pm.