Scots holidaymakers are defying rising prices and rushing to book a place in the sun this summer.
Industry observers suggest the cost of holidays could be up 11% higher this year compared to pre-pandemic prices but it has not slowed the rush to book.
Last week, on the day dubbed “Sunshine Saturday” – the first working Saturday of the year and a traditionally busy day for travel agents as customers book a break to banish the winter blues – Glasgow-based Barrhead Travel reported record-breaking sales.
Andrew Dent, founder and CEO of Familytraveller.com, said: “We are seeing our busiest year ever. All of our tourist board clients and tour operator clients are seeing record years too.
“No matter what the family finances look like the summer holiday has to happen. You can’t tell the kids there is no holiday because the household energy bills are double what they were last year.”
Dent said some families managed to squirrel away some money from the Covid years, but remote working means that the parents can often keep working whilst away – meaning longer holidays are possible.
He added: “All-inclusive is big this year because it’s good for families as you don’t have to stress about any extras which helps for planning. The cost of the holiday might be more, but it means you barely need to bring anything to spend.”
Melissa Tilling, MD of Charitable Travel, the social enterprise travel agent which donates part of the booking cost to charity, said: “Following a two-year travel hiatus, we’re seeing a real pent-up demand from travellers even with the cost of living crisis.
“People are finally taking those bucket-list trips they’ve been dreaming about – with fewer, but longer breaks.”
Tom Hall, head of Lonely Planet, says demand is expected to be at an all-time high this year.
He said: “Despite the cost of living crunch, enthusiasm to get away remains high as we shake off the last of the pandemic hangover.
“If 2022 was all about getting back out there, 2023 looks set to be a year of travelling smart. This means budgeting where possible – advance booking, self-catering and all- inclusive are all going to be popular ways to manage costs.”
Around 60% of Barrhead’s bookings last weekend were for this summer with top months to travel being July, June, August, and September.
Travel agents say that the most popular destinations include the Canaries, Spain and Turkey.
Longer-haul holidays are in high demand for America and Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan, which offer lower costs in many areas, and Dubai.
Holidays at sea are also on the rise with cruise bookings increasing and expected to be favoured by families this year.
Dent said: “Cruises are booming. They are currently incredible value as they recover from Covid with amazing offers. Also cruise ships have become even better – the facilities on board are crazy these days with entertainment, wellness, food, kids clubs, water parks and private islands to visit. It is an amazing family holiday.”
But the good, old Covid-inspired trend for domestic travel is still set to continue.
Hall added: “We’re expecting camping and budget-friendly activity holidays to continue to figure strongly.”
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