Saturday 3 December 2016

Families flock to continent for Christmas in the sun

Claire McCormack

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

Great escape: Sun-soaked Christmas holidays are back in fashion for Irish holidaymakers, not to mention trips to Lapland
Great escape: Sun-soaked Christmas holidays are back in fashion for Irish holidaymakers, not to mention trips to Lapland

In another potent sign of a recovering economy, travel agents are reporting a surge of bookings from families who want to spend Christmas in the sun.

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And trips to Lapland - a symbol of affluence during the Celtic Tiger era - are also back with a bang.

Falcon Holidays have had to increase the number of trips to the Arctic Circle for this festive season. And it seems that Irish families are opting for high end holidays in four and five-Star resorts.

The Sunset Beach Club - a four-star beachfront holiday resort in Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol, Spain - has reported that one in five (around 20pc) of their clientele will be Irish this December.

On Christmas day Santa Claus will visit children staying at the hotel and will offer a complimentary buck's fizz and canapés for adults.

Justin Thompson, Community Manager at Sunset Beach Club, said that Irish guests also demand a taste from home when they visit the sun at Christmas - with turkey and all the trimmings.

"Santa will bring a gift to all children staying at the hotel. After Santa's visit there is a full Christmas lunch with live music in the hotel's banquet hall," he said.

Although the company don't have a specific all-inclusive package deal available, the additional price for the Christmas lunch is just €55 per adult or €18 for kids (aged 2 to 12 years).

Travel agents say that more families are going abroad for the Christmas period because it is less stressful on parents and offers them more time to relax and celebrate together.

The rising economy and consumer confidence means people feel they can spend money on a second holiday of the year.

The weather is also a major pull factor.

Mr Thompson said: "Irish families are choosing to spend their Christmas holiday with us for various reasons, including the weather. We get an average of over 320 days of sunshine per year on the Costa del Sol."

But travel agents say that Irish holidaymakers have put a far bigger premium on value for money - a legacy of the recession, even though confidence has returned.

According to another leading tour operator, Falcon Travel, the Canaries is the chief "destinations of choice" for Irish families this Christmas.

Suzanne Cairns, Account Director, said: "The Canaries is a popular choice amongst holidaymakers at Christmas. At a selection of Falcon Holiday resorts there are Christmas Gala dinners."

However, travel agents are also experiencing a surge in demand for trips to Lapland - Santa Claus' homeland tucked away in northernmost Finland, deep inside the Arctic Circle.

This year, Falcon Holidays has increased their Lapland trips to three dates - up from two options in December 2014/2015. Falcon will fly to Lapland on the 5th, 12th and 19th December.

Story-telling around crackling fires, reindeer sleigh rides through the woods, and, of course, meet-and-greets with Santa himself are all on the agenda for the ­winter-wonderland trips.

Sunday Independent

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