Adventure tourism was the biggest trend for those booking holidays in January, replacing the traditional ‘fly and flop’ trip, according to Travel Counsellors Ireland (TC Ireland).
A dramatic rise in the popularity of soft adventure, such as trekking, safari, skiing and surfing, saw January travel bookings to South Africa increase 158% on the same period last year, while New Zealand was up 106%.
Travel Counsellors Ireland, which now has 81 Travel Counsellors throughout Ireland, also celebrated its best ever month of sales in January. The company’s busiest day for bookings was Friday 31 January.
Cathy Burke, General Manager, Travel Counsellors Ireland, said: “Last year South Africa was in sixth place on our top 10 long-haul list, and this year it is third. The country was ninth in 2018, so it seems that the adventure tourism of South Africa, with its untamed wilderness and scenic beauty, has won over Irish holidaymakers. We have requests in from people looking to zip-line over the Koekedouw River, snorkel with seahorses in the famed Knysna lagoon, and safari at Kruger National Park. South Africa really does offer a soft adventure option for people of all ages.
“New Zealand is another country in which we have seen a rapid rise in bookings in January. It is an adventurer’s paradise with opportunities to try activities such as scuba diving, hot air ballooning and rock climbing, especially in adrenaline-packed Queenstown. It is a stunning country and New Zealand is sitting just outside our Top 10 list, despite such a surge in bookings.”
The top two rankings for 2020 long-haul bookings remained unchanged on 2019 for Travel Counsellors Ireland, with the USA top of the list yet again. Mexico, with bookings up 15% on the same period last year, took the number two slot. They were followed by South Africa, Vietnam, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Canada, Mauritius, and Thailand. The two new nations that returned to the top table after failing to make it on to last year’s list were Indonesia (up 59%) and Thailand, whose bookings rose 33% from 2019 figures.
Other destinations that saw a significant increase in bookings included Jamaica (up 179%), Malaysia (up 127%), Brazil (up 90%) and Tanzania (up 62%).
Travel Counsellors has also seen a rise in bookings for cruise holidays this year, with a 24% increase last month, when compared to the same period in 2019.
On the top European destinations list, Spain took first place yet again, while Italy, Portugal, Greece and newcomer Finland rounded out the remaining top five slots.
“It is clear from bookings that Christmas 2020 is already on the minds of the Irish public,” added Cathy. “Family bookings to Lapland — where you’ll find reindeer sleigh rides through snowy forests, cosy cabins, and, of course, the chance to meet Santa — for winter 2020 have been flying in and they are the sole reason Finland has made it on to Europe’s top five.”
Top 10 Long-Haul
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
Top Five Europe