The trade has reported a positive start for 2019 bookings but shied away from predicting a record January.
Up to 5.2 million people are predicted to book a holiday this month, with January 5 – dubbed ‘Sunshine Saturday’ – tipped to be one of the busiest days of the year.
Inspiring Travel Company, which has spent more than £100,000 on TV advertising and its first peaks campaign packs for agents, was among those to report a strong start to the year.
Director of agency sales Lee Marshall said: “Long-haul sales picked up considerably in the days following Christmas and we’ve seen encouraging agent enquiries on the back of our TV ad.”
Gold Medal and Pure Luxury reported an increase in calls and bookings on New Year’s Eve, with New York, Las Vegas and Dubai the standout destinations.
Simon Morgan, owner of Welsh agency chain Tailor Made Travel, said: “Enquiry levels are fantastic. I’m confident of sales growth and my staff are trained on averting any reluctance to book due to Brexit.”
Others forecast a late sales surge as a result of Brexit fatigue.
Prestige Holidays commercial director David Skillicorn said sales were “fabulously unexciting”, adding: “I’m not disappointed but I’ve not got high expectations about January. By pay day, we could see a ‘sod it’ factor.”
Spear Travels managing director Peter Cookson agreed: “We are
not expecting any records to be broken in January to March. If it’s ‘no deal’, people will still book, as life is too short.”
Baileys Travel owner Chris Bailey reported a “noticeable increase” in clients putting off their booking because of Brexit. He admitted: “I have been fretting since Christmas about whether or not we will have any sort of January.”
The Travel Village Group managing director Phil Nuttall said Brexit was a “consideration for some people” but said consumers were still looking to get away. “We are hoping to have a good January. People are looking at booking their holidays,” he said.
The latest data from industry analyst GfK saw summer 2019 bookings up 10% year on year to the end of November, and revenue up 11%. That followed a 5% year-on-year rise in summer 2018 bookings.