A Belfast travel agent has said that more people than ever are booking bucket-list holidays for this summer.
Kelly Hutchinson, store manager of Barrhead Travel in Victoria Square, said they have seen bookings increase by over 150% over recent months, as more people become confident in returning to international travel.
Although traditional holiday spots like Spain and Portugal remain popular for Northern Irish travellers, she said the biggest change they’ve seen has been in those booking trips to far flung locations around the globe.
In particular, spots such as Japan, South Africa, Canada, and Australia have been increasingly popular, with more people looking for longer holidays than the typical seven or 14 day trip.
Kelly told Belfast Live : “This year definitely looks to be the year of the holiday, people’s confidence is increasing.
“The trend in this store shows that our most popular destinations are more bucket-list trips, those higher value holidays. The likes of Canada is selling very well, that’s high up there on a lot of peoples bucket-lists.
“Orlando is very popular with families, and that’s not just for summer 2022, but also for summer 2023.
“People are spending more money, holidaying for longer, and taking longer to pay it off. Barcelona in Spain remains very popular, but that’s due to cruises, as well as Costa Dorada for the theme park, PortAventura, which is another popular spot for families who maybe don’t want to go as far.
“USA multi-centres, maybe 17 to 19-day holidays have been popular. People have maybe accumulated days off during lockdown that they’re able to hold over and are now able to take longer trips.
“Japan is also a very popular destination this summer. We’ve also booked about another 30 passengers to South Africa this summer as well, so it’s definitely up there as well as bucket-list is concerned and the prices are very keen.”
As well as an increase in bookings for longer trips to locations that are further away, Kelly added that more people seem to be booking shorter trips in between to have something to look forward to.
“Four night trips to Mallorca have also been very popular, people are taking the shorter trips in between the bigger trips,” she continued.
“They’re coming in and booking multiple holidays to have in their diaries to look forward to. People are going a wee bit further for their money, but in between those big trips they’re booking smaller trips and city breaks.”
In a bid to ensure travel isn’t complicated, especially during a time when restrictions around testing and isolation periods can quickly change, Kelly said they’ve noticed more people physically calling into their store to discuss trips.
She added: “I think it’s because of the security you get. A reputable travel agent can update you on the latest guidance, and your booking is financially protected if things changed.
“We can also provide extra things like travel insurance which has Covid cover built into it, so it does have that peace of mind, it isn’t as difficult now to get off the ground and get out of the country.”
When it comes to the easing of further travel restrictions, Kelly said she’s “excited” to see international travel becoming more attainable for more people.
“It feels how travel felt before the pandemic hit, that’s the only way I can describe it,” Kelly added.
“What I’ve done for the past 27 years is made people happy through selling them holidays, giving them experiences of a lifetime, and making memories.
“I think more than ever now, every single one of us knows how important memories are, and actually enjoying something as a family or as friends, having new experiences, going to new places, experiencing different cultures.
“It’s lovely to be able to sell holidays comfortably, knowing there’s a very good chance they will get on them now because of the relaxation in entry requirements to most countries.”
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