Package holidays enjoying a revival as travel agents slash prices in half
THE package holiday is undergoing a revival as travel agents slash prices by up to a half to attract customers, an Irish Independent survey has revealed.
Low prices, coupled with the security and convenience of a package holiday, are drawing in customers who arranged holidays themselves in the past.
Previously, the increasing availability of cheap flights had swamped the market and caused a drop in package-holiday sales. But the lure of hassle-free packages mean they have now returned to the fore.
Price drops include seven nights self-catering in Crete at €236 with Panorama holidays, a saving of 52pc from the 2009 price of around €499.
One-week's B&B in a three-star hotel in Turkey was almost €500 two years ago, but is now €273 with Wings Abroad -- a saving of 45pc.
A self-catering week in Cyprus would have cost around €591 per person, but is now 46pc less with Thomas Cook at €316.
All prices are for people travelling on May 28.
Cassidy Travel, which is opening its seventh travel shop in Liffey Valley, Co Dublin, this week, said package-holiday sales were on the increase.
"While weekend travel has dropped off, there seems to be a slow return to the one-week holiday and a return to booking with a travel agent and tour operator," director John Spollen said.
"You will get last-minute deals . . . for between €199 to €299 per person for a one-week holiday to include flights transfers and accommodation."
David Walsh, of Joe Walsh Tours, said the key to success is being flexible.
"We are not afraid to diversify and as a result are able to consistently offer our customers a wide range of holiday options . . . at the very best price."
Current specials include a three-night city break in Nice for €306 per person and €248 for two nights in Jersey -- both offers are for three-star hotels and include bed and breakfast.
Meanwhile, many families are waiting until the last minute to book a holiday in the hopes of bagging a bargain.
"Package holidays, this year in particular because money is so tight, are seeing a trend where people are now booking holidays two or three days in advance," Pat Dawson, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association said.
"This is an excellent way to save money as the nearer you get to the date of travel the cheaper it is."
However, Liam Lonergan, managing director of Budget Travel warned people's expectations of prices were unrealistic for peak times.
He said that although prices were low for this time of year and late deals were always cheaper, prices would rise in peak season and school holidays.
"People have low price points in their minds that are somewhat unrealistic," he added.