January has seen customers rushing to book their holidays despite financial concerns, say agents and operators.


Cosmos sales and distribution director Andy Washington said the operator closed the month 47% up in traditional package-based sales and 25% up in add-on sales.


However, with sales proving equally strong in both the lates and summer markets, as well as both packages and dynamic packages, he said: “It is not a constant pattern but overall holidays are selling well in spite of the economic outlook.”


Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides said sales to its key destination of Greece were up more than 20%.


He said sales had been equally strong in all distribution channels but there has been noticeable growth in sales through independent agents.
 
Advantage commercial director Julia Lo Bue-Said added the consortium’s 800 shops are around 10% ahead of a currently flat market while average selling prices across package holidays are up £35 per person year-on-year.


She added cruise sales were 20% up on last month, long-haul sales saw an increase of 10% and domestic tourism was 30% up – largely due to London’s thriving theatres and exhibitions.


Operators have also seen the benefit of working with the consortium’s agents, whose sales with Thomas Cook have increased by 25%, while Caribtours and Kuoni have witnessed 21% and 23% growth respectively.


On Holiday Group sales director Brian Young said sales had been driven by other factors, adding: “As Easter is earlier this year people are booking for it now. With
deposits of £5 and £10, people are also booking summer holidays now as they have the whole of summer to pay for it.”


However, he warned this could still backfire as consumers who have not paid high deposits are more likely to pull out of holidays at the last minute if there are credit worries.