Virgin Holidays aims to triple its annual passenger numbers to Cancun to 30,000 over the next three years, off the back of Virgin Atlantic’s new twice weekly direct service to the destination.
Speaking to Travel Weekly in Cancun, Virgin Holidays managing director Amanda Wills said: “We gave ourselves a target of 6,000 for this year when we put it on sale in August, and we’ve already sold just over 8,000. We reckon we’ll reach 10,000. This is a destination with great potential.
Wills said bookings for next year were already healthy. “Everyone says it’s all about the lates market but we are 30% up year on year here for Summer 2013.”
Wills said she expected the increase to come mainly from new customers. “We haven’t seen a huge amount of dilution from other product. Cancun had a reputation as a charter destination, and with Virgin Atlantic coming on the route we can attract new customers.”
Virgin Atlantic’s first flight touched down on Saturday and the airline will operate flights twice a week from Gatwick, carrying 75,000 passengers a year initially – although president Sir Richard Branson said he expected this to increase over the years to come.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said: “The next logical time in our minds to increase flights would be winter 2013.”
The airline will operate the route with its fleet of 747s, which are being given a £50 million facelift with new seats being fitted to premium economy and economy, and new IFE.
Wills said she would be keen to see Virgin Atlantic increase the number of flights, but that Virgin Holidays can hit its 30,000 target without extra flights. “Cancun is a destination with great potential. The quality of the product is second to none and the pricing is keen.”
The operator has expanded its programme to the destination, now featuring 32 hotels in its mainstream brochure and six in the Hip Hotels programme. The average party size is three, and the average stay 11 days, and 60% of stays are on an all-inclusive basis.
Virgin Holidays opens its second standalone high street store in Maidenhead this month. This is the brand’s 100th agency, and Wills expects to open another three or four concessions by January, in locations in the north of England.
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