Increased flight, overseas accommodation demand may outstrip supply

Moves to allow international travel from July broadly welcomed within industry

‘Travel agents are already very busy with inquiries and people are now booking or at least talking about it in a serious way,’ chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson said. File photograph: iStock

‘Travel agents are already very busy with inquiries and people are now booking or at least talking about it in a serious way,’ chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson said. File photograph: iStock

 

A surge in interest in overseas holidays towards the end of the summer could see demand outstrip supply with the cost of flights and overseas accommodation climbing sharply according to travel industry figures.

The news that people in Ireland will be able to travel throughout the EU without restrictions from the middle of July as long as they meet certain criteria has been broadly welcomed.

The chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) Pat Dawson said he had been surprised by news that July 19th was being set as the date when the country would start to re-open for non-essential international travel and said he had expected moves in that direction would be delayed until at least August.

“It is a pleasant surprise and a couple of weeks ahead of what we had thought so that is very positive,” he told The Irish Times. “Travel agents are already very busy with inquiries and people are now booking or at least talking about it in a serious way,” he added.

He said people could expect to see the cost of flights increase in the days ahead and noted that one route from Cork to Spain later this summer which had been priced at €200 early on Friday morning had jumped to €270 as soon as the Government’s preferred date for Ireland implementing the Digital Green Certificate was reported to be July 19th.

However he went on to say that by opening air travel in July, there would be reduced pent-up demand in September and October which could act as a counter-balance on prices.

“There is a lack of capacity but we are hoping that airlines will quickly add extra capacity,” Mr Dawson continued. He noted that “passports will be a problem and there are too many people waiting on them now. That is a service that needs to be opened up rapidly.”

He also called on the Government to provide business supports to “avoid another blow to our industry after such a difficult year”. He said there was typically long delays between booking and travel and said that meant “that our sector must work for six to nine months before we actually count the income generated from advance bookings.”

‘Prices will jump’

“I feel like I can breathe again,” said Paul Hackett of online travel agents Click & Go. He said there had been a “significant increase” in bookings since the end of April but said that while the initial trend was for bookings in September and beyond, there was more interest in July and August.

He pointed out that there will be no mandatory quarantine and no traffic light system operating within the EU which should give people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 or who can present a negative PCR test should be able to travel with confidence.

“Prices will jump but they are not going to go crazy because there has been no forward booking,” he said.

“Normally there are advance booking but there has been nothing coming through until now. Flights over the summer are probably no more than 10 per cent full now when normally they would be 70 per cent full at this stage. And People aren’t stupid and they are not going to pay over the odds.”

Travel writer Eoghan Corry said there was “huge optimism” across the travel sector but suggested that the public might be reluctant to travel with Covid-19 still circulating. “I think people will need convincing. But maybe Michael O’Leary dangling €10.99 flights in from of them will do the trick.”