Travel agents in the Harrogate area are reporting the travel trends of January as holiday makers look to book their dream destinations.
Long haul trips are among the most popular holidays being booked with local travel agents.
And the destinations in demand are the USA, Australia and Sri Lanka as sales rise across the Harrogate district.
Mike Langford, founder and owner of Langford Travel, on Bower Road, Harrogate, said long haul destinations are popular with his clients.
“People are planning well ahead and wanting bigger trips, such as to Australia, and most tend to be long term spends, not last-minute.
“They are looking for something with more of a wow factor than something cheap.
“In my experience as a travel agent of 28 years, I am expecting it to be quite a good year as there seems to be quite a bit of money around.”
Wetherby Travel manager Cathy Jackson-Spence confirmed that sales are also up at the Victoria Street office, and America is proving very popular with customers.
“We have had a lot of US enquiries, particularly Florida and the west coast and Canada,” she said.
And she added that some bookings had been helped by increased destinations being offered from Leeds/Bradford airport.
“Italy is making a revival, helped by flights from Leeds, as is Croatia,” she said.
Although bookings are down for Egypt and Turkey, because of last year’s terrorist attacks, Dubai is a Middle East destination which is still very popular.
“Dubai has year-round sunshine, three flights a day and beautiful hotels, all of an excellent standard,” Cathy said.
She added: “Most independent travel agents’ business is up and that’s because people are wanting to use agents in case anything goes wrong. The benefits of a personal service and face-to-face conversation and protection should anything go wrong are key.”
Footfall is high at travel agents around the district.
Jacquie Cole, of Harrogate-based Bakewell Travel, said that the tragic global events of last year were deterring tourists from visiting certain areas such as Egypt but they didn’t deter travellers in general.
She said: “I’m busier than I’ve ever been. It seems that, particularly for longer, more complicated trips, clients want to use a trusted travel agent rather than book things directly themselves.
“If things go wrong, or if a booking has to be cancelled due to global events, it is reassuring to know that your money is protected and a professional is on hand to assist with any issues.
“The travel industry as a whole is resilient, reactive and flexible. It is a good agent’s role to use our knowledge and experience to guide clients to the right choice of holiday and to come up with alternative suggestions if changes have to be made, to occasionally manage difficult situations on behalf of our clients.”
She added that Cuba is popular with her clients, along with Costa Rica and Budapest.
“I’ve got several parties travelling to Cuba to explore the culture before the inevitable American influence changes things.
“Less predictably trips to Costa Rica, Namibia and Tanzania are currently very popular, and interestingly all offer completely diverse experiences.
“Closer to home, Budapest and Vienna are the current top choice for city break destinations, Italy is proving particularly popular as it works so well as a multi-centre trip, and families are increasingly requesting activity based holidays.”
Looking ahead, ABTA said its members were optimistic regarding the market as almost one in five people, 18 per cent, say they will travel to a country they have never been to, compared to nine per cent last year.
And nearly a quarter (23 per cent) say they will try a new resort or city (even if they have visited the country before) compared to 10 per cent who said this last year.
“Tried and trusted destinations look set to benefit from geopolitical uncertainty and it is likely that Spain will be 2016’s top destination,” said an ABTA spokesman.
“Bookings are already tracking well ahead of 2015.
“Likewise, other European destinations like Portugal and Italy are seeing healthy numbers and are also benefitting from a strong pound bringing down the cost of day-to-day expenses for British holidaymakers.”
Away from Europe, ABTA members have reported that bookings to Cuba, Cape Verde, Kenya and Thailand were very healthy in 2015 and are looking positive for 2016.
There is also strong demand for Jamaica, Barbados and the UAE.