Trading for summer 2020 appears up year on year despite the growing US-Iran crisis, with some agents reporting bookings on a par with January 2018, which was “very good”.

Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer for specialist business at The Midcounties Co-operative, reported sales up “eight percentage points on passengers and 10 percentage points on value” year on year.

Rowland, who is also chairman of Abta, said: “We were all a bit hesitant after Christmas. Thus far, it’s looking quite good and margins are holding. There is a general feel-good factor.”

Advantage Travel Partnership leisure director Kelly Cookes described the market as “relatively buoyant”. She said: “We’re up year on year across all seasons on sale, [which is] driven more than anything by package sales for summer 2020.”

Chris Bailey of Bailey’s Travel in Wellingborough, Northants, said: “We’re probably on a par with January 2018, which was very good. Every December I fret [about January] but it has gone off as well as I could wish.”


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Diane Coleman of Tickets Travel in Bexley, Kent, agreed. “It’s better than last year – there is more interest even though Brexit is imminent,” she said. “It’s early days. We’re not manic, but we’re getting a lot of enquiries.”

Simon Morgan, of Tailor Made Travel in South Wales, said: “We’ve done £1.3 million in sales in seven days with an overall margin of 7.8% against significant online discounting, so we’re up, but I don’t think demand is quite as high [as last year].”

Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, described trading as “good but not spectacular”, saying: “People are happier than they thought they would be. Airlines have a lot of decent fares and that is stimulating sales. The general view is business is good.” However, he added: “If you have a massive market to the Middle East, you must be concerned.”

The peak booking season began slowly last year, with January 2019 well down on 2018 and February and March following suit. Only strong early bookings and a decent lates market saved the summer 2019 season for many firms.

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