Agents report dip in demand but say business still brisk

Travel agents have reported a slight decline in overall sales but said business remained brisk.

Last-minute, short-haul bookings have continued to dominate sales but agents also cited rising demand for long-haul holidays for future seasons, particularly 2023.

High prices and a fear of summer airport disruption were blamed for the slowdown.

MoreComment: Demand for future seasons offers hope

Love To Travel director Joanne Dooey said: “It’s quietened down in the past 10 days or so. It’s a combination of high prices and adverse reports of cancellations.”

Polka Dot Travel director Mark Johnson agreed: “Sales are slightly down from previous weeks but we’re selling more long-haul.”

Flight cancellations had made clients “really wary”, said Spear Travels chairman Peter Cookson, who added summer 2023 sales were “busier than normal” because holidaymakers had left it too late this year and didn’t want to miss out next year.

The Advantage Travel Partnership said members’ sales were down 2% last week on the week before but revenues were up 19%, with 45%‑50% of bookings still for departures within 12 weeks.

Barrhead Travel reported a “rush in last-minute breaks” at the start of the Scottish school holidays, while The Travel Network Group said sales for seasons beyond this summer now formed most of members’ bookings.

Chief commercial officer Vim Vithaldas said: “We’re beginning to see a shift from lates to winter 2022-23 and summer 2023.”

Deben Travel also noted an uplift in 2023 sales and cited price as the critical problem this summer. Owner Lee Hunt said: “There doesn’t seem to be enough availability and what there is, is overly expensive.”

However, some agencies said they had not seen any slowdown. “We’re absolutely flying,” said Miles Morgan Travel owner Miles Morgan, who reported a rise in long-haul sales.

Idle Travel similarly reported its “best-ever June”. Director Tony Mann said Jet2holidays’ decision to add “tens of thousands” of extra child places from 10 airports was driving sales at just the right time. “The family market needed a bit of a boost because of the prices,” he added.

MoreComment: Demand for future seasons offers hope

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