PEOPLE are keen to escape “talk about the recession and Anglo” with advance holidays bookings up 15% to 30% this year.
This is according to the country’s travel agents, who descended upon Dublin’s Mansion House last night for the first ever Irish Travel Industry Awards organised by the Irish Travel Agents Association. The awards, say organisers, are the first time that travel agents will be recognised for their work.
Last night, they said people are reluctant to cut back on their summer getaway, with advance bookings up at travel agencies. Package holidays are also proving popular again, they said, as holiday-makers look for more security as a result of the disruptions experienced in the airline industry over the last 12 months.
ITAA president, Pat Dawson, said 2009 was a critical year for the sector but said 2010 saw just one casualty and a lot of cut-backs.
“Agents are offering more special deals and they are aware that people are looking for value more so than ever,” he said.
“Package holidays are also getting more popular as a result of the ash cloud. People want to feel secure and it seems the clock has turned a little bit,” he added.
Mr Dawson said people want to escape the “doom and gloom”.
“When they head away they won’t hear about the recession or about Anglo. People want to get away from it all,” he said.
He added that 2011 is looking very good and they hope to sustain these levels to the end of the year.
More than 470 people attended last night’s ceremony, hosted by TV presenter Craig Doyle.
Mr Dawson. said: “At my first board meeting as president of the ITAA I proposed setting up these awards which would recognise the work of travel agents in Ireland.”
“It’s about time they were recognised,” he added.
The awards were voted on by travel agents around Ireland and overseen by a panel of independent judges. The organisers said they ran the awards for the whole Irish travel industry and not just members of the ITAA.
Meanwhile, there were fears yesterday for the arrival in Dublin of 2,000 exhibitors for the Holiday World Show. The disruptions with Aer Lingus flights meant many people had to reorganise their flights to ensure they would be at the RDS this morning.
“However we think everyone has managed to get here which is great,” Mr Dawson said. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is due to make a speech at the Show this afternoon.
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