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Surge in holiday sales as families hunt fun in sun

Families are defying the economic gloom with a surge in sales of holidays since the new year.

Some tour operators and agents have seen their busiest period in four years -- with queues for holidays reported in travel shops around the city.

"Reports from our members show very strong sales since January 1 -- and even just before Christmas," said John Devereux, head of the Irish Tour Operators Federation.

And Mr Devereux, who's also head of tour operator American Holidays in Dublin, said canny holidaymakers are making sure they're first in the race to the sun. He said: "One driving factor is the fact that a lot of those who left it late last year found they couldn't get the date or destination that they wanted and there were no bargains."

Low deposits are also a factor, he added, so anyone booking won't have to pay the balance of holidays until closer to the trip.

Charter seats are down three- quarters since 2007, meaning there are fewer places for families who want their traditional sun holidays.

Falcon Holidays director Helen Caron said: "Traditionally, January has always been a key booking period for Falcon and this year we have not been disappointed as we are experiencing a particularly busy month. Indications are that more and more people want to have their summer holiday secured early. With this in mind, we have launched our biggest ever marketing campaign."



QUEUES

A variety of sales among the operators and travel agents, as well as fare sales from the likes of KLM, Air France, Aer Lingus and British Airways, have seen a surge in bookings.

Pat Dawson, head of the Irish Travel Agents Association, added: "I've seen queues out the door in many shops."

John Spollen, of Cassidy Travel, has also noticed a big uptake and Tony Collins, of Topflight, has reported brisk business.

hnews@herald.ie