Travel agents throughout Ireland are reporting increased post-Christmas bookings compared with last year, with Spain and Portugal the top European destinations, along with the USA, Canada and, in long-haul, Thailand, Australia and South Africa.
Here is a sample of the comments received from agents by Irish Travel Trade News:
Paul Hackett said: “Forward bookings for 2017 are well up on 2016 as of 31st December 2016. I think that is down to the trend we are seeing for people to book earlier to get the holiday they want. It is very early days for January but in the first three days of the month we are well up on the same three days versus Jan 2016 – but we are not taking that as indicative of how the month will pan out. It is a massively competitive market and we review demand and prices every day.
“The top five sun destinations so far based on bookings in January are Lanzarote, the Algarve, Tenerife, Salou, and Costa del Sol. No big surprises there as they are all ‘safe haven’ destinations and, as you can imagine, the recent events in Istanbul are seriously impacting on demand for Turkey. Lanzarote has replaced Algarve as the number one destination and that is down to the Portuguese increasing bed prices for 2017.
“Flight prices are in line with January 2016 but we are seeing higher prices feeding through from Portugal and Spain and we are assuming that is on the back of the great year they had in 2016.”
Martin Skelly reported: “I am happy to say that business is off to a brisk start. So far (and it is early days yet) business is up on last year.
“Family holidays are the big seller, naturally, but there is a lot of interest in cruising and the USA is also performing well. The few days between Christmas and the New Year were busy. It is too early to call it a trend, but we are forever the optimists and, needless to say, we are looking forward to the year ahead.”
Dave Hayeems said: “We have seen booking patterns pick up after Christmas, as we have come to expect, and this week has become very busy. We expect 2017 to be a great year for our clients with strong value and offers in the market.
“Our usual core destinations of Thailand, Australia, South Africa and the USA are all currently featuring strongly in enquiries.”
Sean Power reported: “Yes, there is the usual demand for brochures and quotes for many destinations but no trend at the moment. It is very early days yet but there is more confidence around this year and this should turn into bookings as the months go by.
“America is popular and also Spain and Portugal, as well as cruise holidays.”
Bernie Whelan said: “Travel Counsellors are delighted with our first few booking days of 2017, a really positive start even though we are a day short due to Monday being a public holiday. Our 65 Travel Counsellors all over the country are reporting a busier start to 2017 versus 2016, with clients eager to get their holiday secured as quickly as possible and to avail of all the airline sale fares on offer.
“Our top selling countries in our first few days of business are Spain, the USA, Italy and the Maldives, a nice mixture of long-haul and short-haul with honeymooners looking for more unusual destinations with a bit of adventure thrown in.
“We have lots of enquiries and quotes on the go for South Africa, Canada, Greece, and Portugal, but it is the return of Mexico that is really making an impact – and we are delighted to see that. We have also seen an increase in SME Business Travel setting up accounts and working with our TCs around the country.
“We predict that 2017 will be our best year since we launched in 2005, as we have consistently grown the business each year since then.”