Families book the sunshine for 2013

The Irish are used to explaining how bad a summer is by pointing to our pale disposition, rain-soaked countryside and — let’s face it — more than a little national depression.

But now we have another definition to our annual weather woes: becoming so fed up you book a short summer break almost a full year in advance.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has revealed that as many as 20,000 families have already booked summer holidays for next year.

In an apparent attempt to wipe our weather blues away, the ITAA said 2012 has seen a sudden unexpected surge in people planning 12 months ahead.

The group was unable to provide a specific breakdown for the claims, which are likely to cause a further increase in early summer 2013 holiday queries.

However, it said this summer’s weather, instalment deals for trips, and low-price offers are among the reasons for the rise.

And the claims were repeated by individual travel agents contacted by the Irish Examiner — including some who put the apparent surge in long-term holiday plans down to the high cost of Irish staycations.

“We’ve seen about 100 people booking trips for next year already.

“Normally at this time of year’s there’s about 10-15 bookings, but this year there’s been a really big increase,” said Dawson Travel sales manager, Paul Dawson.

“Most of our bookings are the old reliables, about 70% of them to Spain and specifically the Costa del Sol, Majorca and the Canaries, and then 10% to Portugal. But places like Turkey have gone flying up the list,” he said.

Heffernan’s Travel managing director, Kieran Collins, made the same claim, pointing to an even larger year-on-year rise.

“Well, last year nobody was looking to plan ahead, so everything from there is up,” he admitted. “What we’ve seen since July/Aug is about 80-100 family bookings.

“These are mainly people who were getting nervous about summer 2012 and came in about July/Aug trying to get away. The late prices were getting too high, so a lot of them have planned ahead for next year.”

Mr Collins said the increase is down to a number of factors, including the cost of holidaying in Ireland.

“Some of the holiday prices with guaranteed sun would be the same as going camping in Kerry,” he claimed.

Tom Randles, J Barter Travel managing director, said its four branches have seen a 23% rise in bookings for next summer compared to previous years. He said most were signing up to “month-by- month” instalments for family trips to sun certainties like mainland Spain, the Canaries, Portugal and Greece.

“Many families were caught out this year as schedule flights were very expensive to many of the holiday destinations and getting apartments to suit family needs were at a premium,” said ITAA chief executive, Pat Dawson.

“The ITAA expects an ongoing high enquiry level to continue over the coming months, with many properties and special offers being grabbed up,” he said.

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