Travel agents have reported encouraging trading in the first days of the peak holiday sales period. 

Many agencies opened for three or four days over the Christmas period, with Saturday January 2 reported as the busiest day.

Wetherby-based Spa Travel owner Paul Dayson slammed tour operators for failing to cope with demand.

“We were really busy on Saturday and I couldn’t get through to some operators, while some closed at 1pm.

“I am aggrieved that these companies did not man the phones. Despite this, sales were up 25% on this time last year,” he said.

Daniele Broccoli, owner of Britaly Travel, in Peterborough, and trade-only tour operation Typically Italian, said it was too early to predict booking trends, but he was cautiously optimistic.

He said: “The agency was busy on Saturday and we had a steady trickle of people booking. The tour operation was the busiest with the phones ringing.”

Peter Holmes, owner of Classic Travel in Loughton and Travel Weekly makeover winner, said: “The few days trading over the Christmas period were encouraging. We were busy with enquiries and gave a lot of brochures out.

“Saturday seemed busier than this time last year and sales were up on last year.”

Worldchoice members revealed the average booking price after December 29 hit £1,000 per person, up from £570 last year.

Operations director Bill Pickering said: “Flight-only and cruise did well and represented more than half of the bookings.

“A lot of families picked up brochures before Christmas and said they would book in January, so hopefully they will return soon.”