Numbers booking hotels and flights rose last month, data shows

Travel industry welcomes extra activity but warns full recovery remains a long way off

A travel industry representative said those making bookings now appeared ‘responsible’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A travel industry representative said those making bookings now appeared ‘responsible’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

People in Ireland appear to be increasingly confident that holidays at home and abroad are on the horizon, with the numbers booking hotels and flights rising last month.

The travel industry welcomed the extra activity but pointed out that it was coming off a very low base. Industry representatives said it would be some time before the level of spending across the hospitality sector came anywhere close to that seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Consumer spending overall last month was up only 3 per cent on March, with April 30th, the day after the Government announced plans to ease restrictions, recording the highest level during the month.

These figures are based on spending data from AIB. The data shows that confirmation regarding the return of inter-county travel and the reopening of hospitality businesses in the summer prompted a 30 per cent month-on-month rise in spending on hotels in April.

The bank’s Spend Trend report showed people aged under 25 increased their spending on travel accommodation most (up 38 per cent), with the smallest increase among people aged 45 to 54.

The data, based on more than 1 million AIB debit and credit card transactions in April, shows over-65s recorded the biggest increase in airline spending last month (up 25 per cent on March figures), whereas such spending increased by just 2.2 per cent among the 25-34 cohort.

This would suggest that those who are more likely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 feel the possibility of international travel later this year is growing.

Paul Hackett, of online travel agency Click & Go, said he had seen a “notable improvement” in bookings in recent days, but that a full recovery remained a long way off.

“A 25 per cent increase might sound like a lot, but based on where we are now . . . it is tiny. But I suppose the life-support machine is beeping and at least there is a blip,” he said.

Mr Hackett noted that those making bookings appeared “responsible”, with most doing so “for September and beyond”. He noted that “the narrative is changing and the message from public health officials is changing”.

He said that some of the better accommodation in sun locations popular among Irish people, such as the Algarve in Portugal, was already booked out in July and August by British people mainly.

“The good stuff will fill very fast,” he added.

The AIB figures suggest that Co Kerry was the county that recorded the highest increase in spending on airlines last month (up 65 per cent on March), while the rate was up by 46 per cent in Co Sligo. The biggest increase in spending on hotels in Ireland was from those in Co Carlow (up 47 per cent), followed by people in counties Clare and Wicklow.

AIB spokeswoman Rachel Naughton said consumer spending was also up in April in other hospitality sectors such as pubs and off-licences (up 35 per cent on March) and restaurants (up 9 per cent) as consumers took advantage of better weather.

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