Happy smiles began appearing on the faces of travel agents and representatives of the 50 countries exhibiting at the shows as people booked holidays and expressed strong interest in destinations. New exhibitors included Czech Republic, Ionian Islands, Jordan, Korea, Oman, Sri Lanka, Flanders and Kusadasi.
The stand for Newfoundland and St. Johns soon ran out of brochures and stocks had to be replenished as people flocked to hear about the new daily service with Westjet to the Canadian maritime province.
This new service is part of 26 weekly flights to Canada this summer operated by four airlines. Aer Lingus’s service to Toronto begins in April, Air Canada Rouge in June and Air Transat will operate their usual summer services from Dublin and Shannon to Toronto and Montreal.
Transatlantic holidays are high on the wish lists of visitors and all the US and Canadian stands experienced queues of people wanting to get information and find deals. The knock on effect of the Gathering means that this year there are more than two million flights to the USA and Canada.
Sun destinations are just as popular with Spain topping the list as usual, last year we made 1,270,000 trips there. Portugal, Italy and France were all happy with the day but it is in the long haul market where people are showing interest. Malaysia saw number rising last year and Mexico had increases of 18.6 per cent.
Clare Dunne, President of the Irish Travel Agents Association said “while people really enjoyed the summer last year, they still want to get off the island. The ending of the Bailout has also made people more optimistic and prepared to spend money on holidays.”
Travel agents have been reporting a very strong start to the year with figures well up on last January. Some agents are already seeing increases of more than 30 per cent. Part of this is as a result of the withdrawal from the Irish charter market of the Thomas Cook Group.
The timing of the news last week in the busiest period of the year caused some upset with travel agents. Thousands of customers had to be found new holidays and rebooked on different itineraries.
In the home market, the big draw this year will be the Garnde Partenza of the Giro D’Italia which will begin in Belfast on May 9 ending in Dublin on May 11.
Both cities and towns along the route are planning to make the most of the famous cycling race.
Exhibitors for Irish hotels are feeling optimistic for the year and David McGlynn of the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris said they have more bookings in January for the upcoming year than ever before. Dromoland Castle and refurbished Inn at Dromoland are feeling the benefits of the extra Transatlantic flights with strong bookings.
The Holiday World Show is on in the RDS today and tomorrow from 11am – 5.30pm.