Terrorists attacks have impacted on where Irish holidaymakers are heading this year — and matchgoers are also wary, according to the Irish Travel Agents Association.
The ITAA was commenting after international travel company TUI, which owns operators Thomson and First Choice, said summer holiday bookings to Turkey had fallen by 40% after recent terrorist attacks.
TUI also said holiday bookings to Tunisia and Egypt had also been hit by terrorism fears, and that even Paris had been affected due to the savage attacks carried out there last November.
ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson said: “Turkey bookings have certainly been slow compared to previous years”, adding that recent attacks, such as an explosion in Istanbul last month, “was not helping the cause”.
But he said this weekend’s Six Nations rugby international in Paris was also an indicator that some people were more cautious about travelling to certain locations in light of worries about possible terrorism.
“It is the first year in a while there is no charter going to the rugby match out of Cork,” said Mr Dawson, adding that there was “much less” flight activity out of Dublin as well for the game.
He said Turkey had been affected and that “people are very conscious of Turkey being risky, not semi-risky”, even though the resorts popular with Irish holidaymakers are typically hundreds of miles away from trouble spots or the capital, Istanbul.
It has resulted in a rise in the number of bookings to other countries, with Portugal and Spain likely to be the beneficiaries.
Mr Dawson said bookings to Spain were not almost booked out, contrary to speculation, but that the number of Irish trips to the country this year could top 1.5m — a considerable increase on the number for last year.
He said the airlines had “copped on” and put on extra capacity to these countries, although supply and demand was dictating the prices. He added that trips to America and high-end cruises were also proving popular.
Last June a gun attack on a holiday beach in Sousse, Tunisia resulted in the deaths of three Irish holidaymakers — Lorna Carty from Robinstown, Co Meath, and husband and wife Martina and Laurence Hayes, from Westlodge, Athlone, Co Westmeath.
Writing in the Irish Examiner last December, travel expert Eoghan Corry outlined how the downturn in bookings was affecting the tourism trade in the country, with a Department of Foreign Affairs directive advising against all but essential travel.
TUI’s results for the year to the end of last September showed the impact from the beach massacre in Tunisia, as well as the move to cancel all flights to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt following the terrorist bombing of a Russian airliner.
Meanwhile, air traffic at Dublin Airport rose 10.5% in January, when compared to the same month last year.
Figures from the Irish Aviation Authority show that traffic in Cork was up 8.9% last month, and in Shannon the numbers were down 2.5%.
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