Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) chief executive Pat Dawson said a portion of the increase was due to people booking one-way flights in order to emigrate.
“We’re seeing people not only booking one-way flights to emigrate, but also a notable amount of bookings from families and friends who are visiting those who have emigrated.”
The ITAA has reported significant increases in business at travel agents across the country this month, as January is traditionally one of the most popular months for booking holidays.
The ITAA said last week saw the busiest two days that travel agents in Ireland have experienced in “a number of years”. The industry expects to increase on these figures next weekend with the Holiday World Show 2013 taking place at the RDS Dublin.
A number of travel agents have reported increases of up to 90% on bookings compared to last year, with many noting a rise of 20%-25%.
Travel agents are also reporting an increase of 15% in corporate travel — pointing to a large growth in Irish businesses seeking to expand their export opportunities.
Mr Dawson said the figures were “hugely positive” and pointed to a positive outlook for this year in the travel industry. “These increases are hugely positive news for the travel sector in general and show that the reliance on travel agents for personalised, tailored advice is increasing.”
Meanwhile, Monaghan-based O’Hanrahan Travel was named Travel Agency of the Year at the Irish Travel Industry Awards in Dublin last night.
Among the other awards were Best European Sun Tour Operator which was presented to Falcon Travel and Best Irish Hotel Chain which went to Jurys. Barcelona was named Best European City Destination.
One of the guests at the ceremony was Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor, who attended as an ambassador for Zest4Kidz, the beneficiary of the raffle on the night. Zest4kidz was founded in 2006 by Irish couple Stuart & Magi Wilson after they volunteered overseas and saw how children lived in tragic circumstances.