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The “black cloud” of terrorism that hangs over the industry this year could encourage more customers to book through agents for added reassurance.
Agents were upbeat about early bookings, but fear the impact of terrorist attacks could make the late season challenging.
With customers snapping up deals for popular hotspots such as Spain, destinations such as Turkey, which is proving more difficult to sell, may have to be discounted later on.
Steve Endacott, Teletext Holidays non-executive chairman, said: “Terrorism is the black cloud that hangs over all of us.
“It could push more people to high street travel agencies or phone booking because they are nervous about making that click. Online it’s too easy to hesitate.
“It’s going to be an interesting lates. You will have sold out of what people want and have left what people don’t want.”
Steve Campion, managing director of Holiday Discount Centre, said: “There is latent demand coming through. It was suppressed before Christmas because of the Paris situation.
“But economic indicators are pretty good: unemployment is low, real earnings are going up, the euro is down and fuel is cheap.”
But, agreeing with Endacott, he added: “Terrorism is the big risk.”
Sue Reid, deputy general manager of Midcounties Co‑operative, said customers had returned to booking early following a slowdown after the Paris terrorist attack in November.
She said that prior to that attack, Spain was up 31% year on year and Midcounties had feared January would be a struggle because customers were booking so early.
However, Reid said January was going well, but warned: “Because it [Spain] is so well booked it will be interesting to see what overbookings will be like.”
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