The top destinations for international trips revealed as Barrhead Travel boss predicts bumper year for local travel agencies
Barrhead Travel said holiday enquiries had risen by 165 per cent since testing rules were relaxed with top destinations including Tenerife, New York City and Orlando in Florida.
Barrhead, which has stores in Halifax, Beverley, Doncaster and Selby, has also seen an increase in interest for destinations such as Lapland and Japan.
And with one in five bookings at the firm all for trips due to take place before the end of March, its president is anticipating a bumper year for international travel.
Jacqueline Dobson said: “Travel is set to make a significant comeback in 2022 with restrictions continuing to ease across the world. People have dearly missed travelling over the last few years – whether that be for holidays, business or to reunite with loved ones.
“January is traditionally the most popular time of year to book a holiday and we’re already seeing much more confidence in the market than this time last year. Omicron caused some uncertainty during December but the relaxation on testing will go a long way to kickstart travel recovery. Our customers are telling us that they can’t wait for their holidays this year.”
Barrhead opened its Halifax outlet in September of last year as it continues to expand its footprint across the country.
Ms Dobson said that she felt that the high street travel agent was set for a golden period, owing to the increased demand and desire for a personal touch.
“We really see the value of the high street and we will continue to invest,” she told The Yorkshire Post.
“With the pandemic, people are coming back to their local travel agent to get that advice.
“We are looking to expand on the high street. A lot of this will depend on recovery of the travel industry; we were one of the last sectors to reopen.
“We won’t be on every single high street. We will pick the locations we want to be on.
“We will also be looking at the larger destinations as well. But you do feel like you get that community when you go to smaller location or a large town. You have that community spirit in these locations. People want to go back to their local high street and support them. That is definitely part of the plan.”
Turning back to the surge in demand, Ms Dobson said that the pent-up demand was palpable, with the classic foreign break having led to increased desire to jet away somewhere.
“People are just fed up and want a break,” she said.
“They want to get some sun. Even just from a mental health perspective people want to get into the sun and get away. We have spent so much time in our own houses that we want to get out into the world and explore.”
The demand for holidays in 2022 is echoed in a recent report by ABTA, The Travel Association. According to their Travel in 2022 report, 61 per cent of people intend on holidaying abroad this year.
And almost half of holidaymakers plan on spending more money on their holidays.
Ms Dobson said customers were “making up for lost time” and choosing to upgrade their trips: “Holidaymakers are spending more on their holidays and choosing to upgrade rooms, flights and hotels – demonstrating that travel is at the top of many people’s agendas this year.
“Families are looking to book once-in-a-lifetime experiences – making up for lost time. In many cases, we’re seeing demand for multi-generational trips so that the full family can spend quality time together.
“One destination which is having a particular draw for families right now is Lapland. Experiences in 2022 are almost sold out already because of the high demand and 2023 is selling very quickly.
“Lapland has rocketed to number five in our top-selling destinations for Scottish holidaymakers.”
Ms Dobson also went on to detail the elation she and her colleagues felt when travel restrictions were eventually eased last summer.
“We were ecstatic,” she said.
“One of my colleagues came in with the news and the room erupted.
“We had been waiting 18 months for this.
“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it just feels amazing.
“Our staff have endured but have kept helping customers, rebooking, cancelling, changing – some of have had their holiday booking changed five times and they have stuck by us.
“We are so grateful to our customers but also to our people who have been heroes throughout this.”