Spain still tops as travel agents set for bumper year

Spain is set to remain the most popular destination for Irish holidaymakers — as travel agents predict a bumper 2015.

According to a survey of members by the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), the annual love affair Irish people have with Spain shows no signs of abating after almost 1.3m visited the country last year.

The study found this year is likely to be no different, with 66% of travel agents reporting that Spain was their most popular travel destination in 2014.

More than 40% of travel agents said Spain was the ‘best value’ destination of 2014, with 41% of votes, followed by Portugal and Turkey (both 18%).

Looking ahead to this year, some 55% of ITAA members said they expect Spain to be their most popular destination, while nearby destinations such as Portugal are also expected to feature prominently in bookings.

The booming travel industry is also set to have a good year, with 65% expecting an increase in turnover, 35% expecting it to remain the same. The average anticipated increase in turnover is 8%.

Commenting on the survey findings, chief executive of the ITAA Pat Dawson said it was no surprise Spain would continue to be the go-to destination for Irish holidaymakers.

“As a destination Spain has something for everyone with beach holidays, energetic city breaks, country hideaways and spiritual retreats. It has long been a favourite of the Irish public and it’s great to see that two new Spanish regions, Valencia and Costa Calida, will be exhibiting at the Holiday World Show Dublin this year,” he said.

This is the third year running travel agents have experienced strong growth, with a reported spike in bookings of between 10% to 15% in January.

The study comes as almost 1,000 travel experts from 50 different countries will assemble in the RDS this weekend for the annual Holiday World Show.

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