Jen Atkinson, chair of the Inspiring Travel Company, appeared on BBC Breakfast today to explain why bookings will peak tomorrow, and how agents are seeing a resurgence.
She was interviewed by business correspondent Ben Thompson, who said: “It is Sunshine Saturday tomorrow (January 5) – when we book holidays to banish the winter blues. Travel agents are expecting double the normal number of bookings.”
Atkinson said: “Since Boxing Day, our inquiries have been up by 40%, which is unbelievable in this economic environment. We are really positive it will be busy.
“It’s all diet and detox, misery and grey weather – we need something to look forward to.
“In the UK we can rely on bad weather. British people love the sunshine and the last thing they tend to sacrifice is their holiday.”
She highlighted how consumers are increasingly coming back to travel agents for advice, as they are overloaded with information from the internet.
“I am a bit of a dinosaur…personal service is incredibly important,” she told viewers.
“The internet is a great, wonderful thing…but there is so much information and who do you trust and believe?
“Nothing can replicate the fact that somebody has been there.
“I remember 10-15 years ago, people said to me that my company would not exist in 15 years’ time but that is not true as people increasingly want to talk to someone they can trust.”
She offered tips to viewers about where to go for good value, and reassured them about travel after the UK leaves the European Union in March.
“There were some negative headlines [about Brexit] but Abta came out strongly and said there is nothing to worry about. It is absolutely inconceivable that there will be no flights after March,” she said.
Talking about “huge volatility” in exchange rates, she said many tourists are going beyond the eurozone and the US, to affordable long-haul destinations such as South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Far East.
“People want a beach holiday but increasingly people want experiences too – to see culture and have wellness breaks; something to make lasting memories instead of a sun tan that fades within a month,” she added.
To ensure a good deal on Sunshine Saturday, she advised consumers to be flexible about departure dates and destinations – but if they want a specific time and place, they should book well in advance.
“We’ve got people currently booking for next Christmas and beyond,” she said.
Atkinson also advised viewers to look at cheaper alternatives to the eurozone, suggesting a city break in Tallinn, Estonia, instead of Prague.
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