Spain still our top overseas holiday spot

Ireland’s love affair with Spain is set to continue this summer with 60% of travel agents naming the country as the most popular destination for holidaymakers in 2018.

A combination of rain, the Beast from the East and seemingly never-ending grey skies has seen 64% of travel agents reporting an increase in turnover in the first three months of this year when compared to the same period in 2017.

Some 5% of agents reported an increase of more than 20% in turnover.

The latest quarterly survey from the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) also found that Spain has once again been voted the most popular destination for Irish holidaymakers. 

Last year, the Spanish Tourism Board hit a milestone of two million Irish visitors to Spain.

The survey also looked at emerging trends in 2018. More than 30% of agents named cruise holidays as experiencing a surge in popularity, while 22% mentioned adventure holidays.

Theme park holidays and all-inclusive holidays were also mentioned as growing trends.

The survey also asked travel agents to vote for their top suppliers, particularly those who assisted travel agents during the period of bad weather last month. Sunway, Bookabed and Aer Lingus were voted as the top three suppliers.

Flamingo Beach Resort, Lanzarote
Flamingo Beach Resort, Lanzarote

The newly elected president of the ITAA, John Spollen, said the results showed an industry that was “continuing to prosper”.

“Irish people love their holidays, and as our economy continues to grow, we are investing in holidays again.

“Consumers are overwhelmed by the sheer range of products and services on offer and that is where the travel agent comes in. We offer a personalised service, filtering the hundreds of options to choose the right holiday for our consumers, with the added benefit of security,” he said.

It comes as Fáilte Ireland unveiled its latest tourism initiative — Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands — designed to boost tourism across the midlands region.

The brand was developed following extensive research among consumers in Ireland, the US, the UK, Germany and France, with more than 10,000 consumers interviewed as part of the process.

People were attracted to the midlands’ natural assets including its many lakes, walkways and blueways.

The initiative will also leverage a growing tourism trend for soft activities by encouraging visitors to be “active in nature” and to explore the region off the beaten track through a range of activities that take in walking, cycling, fishing, boating and food routes.

The River Shannon will be a central focus of the brand along with the Beara Breifne Way.

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