Holiday bookings via travel agents and online have soared 40% in the first three months of 2008, technology firm Multicom has reported.

Although money is tight, consumers are unwilling to sacrifice their annual holiday, said the company.

General manager Chris Nourse said: “Years ago, holidays abroad were seen as a luxury for the few who could afford them. Now it seems they are being seen as more and more essential – even if people have less money in their pockets after paying bills.”

The industry might not be badly affected by the downturn in the economy, he added.

“We’re not saying that the travel industry won’t find it hard if household inflation continues to outstrip people’s pay rises, but the industry might be less susceptible than had been previously thought.”

Travel agents and websites use Multicom’s FindandBook service to access flights, accommodation, package holidays and extras.