TRAVEL agents can make up for disappointing summer sales and recoup lost commission by taking advantage of a winter booking boom, according to Lastminute.com.

Lastminute’s travel director John Bevan claimed there is an unprecedented pent-up demand for winter holidays.

The football World Cup followed by the July heatwave and August terror alerts meant many people did not take a summer break this year and have more annual leave entitlement left than usual, fuelling winter demand, Bevan said.

The online agency has expanded its long-haul twin-centre offering to cater for extra demand after experiencing an increased level of search for destinations such as Africa, Canada, Dubai, Muscat, Miami, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Bevan added: “A lot of people have not had a holiday this year. The signs for winter are much stronger than we would have expected.”

Cosmos Holidays and Thomson Holidays are already experiencing strong demand for long-haul winter holidays. Cosmos Holidays commercial and product director Stuart Jackson said the Maldives, Goa, Mauritius and Dubai are doing well. 

Thomson general planning manager Alex Loftus said its winter bookings for Thailand and Marrakesh are performing particularly well.

However, Jackson doubted winter sales would make up for the disappointing summer.

Leicester agent Nigel Armitage, director of Millington Independent Travel, said turnover was 10% down. He plans a radio and bus advertising campaign to stimulate winter trade. “The summer has been an absolute disaster for European operators, they have to pick up,” he said.