Summer holidays a 'lates' market as Irish leave bookings to last minute

If 2018 was the summer of sweltering staycations, 2019 is the summer of ‘lates’, according to Irish travel agents.

“You couldn’t give away a sun holiday in June 2018,” says Paul Hackett, CEO of ClickAndGo.com, referring to last year’s scorcher.

By contrast, 2019 is a “lates” market, he believes. “The trend this year seems to be more to book at the last minute. People may have been expecting to have a second summer of good weather… but we live in Ireland!”

June bookings shot up 84pc at ClickAndGo.com compared to the same month last year, Hackett says – while average prices are down by €40pp, or €160 per family of four, in destinations like Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands.

Increased airline capacity and a Brexit-inspired dip in British travel are also contributing to lower prices and late booking trends, agents say.

“There was a bookings lull from mid-May to the start of June, but the inconsistency of the weather in Ireland got people thinking about heading overseas,” says John Spollen of Cassidy Travel.

“We’re seeing a lot of late bookings, but there’s still a lot of availability. Brexit may have had an effect on that, with Brits not travelling as much to Spain and Portugal this year.”

Sp how can latecomers bag the best deal?

For starters, Spollen says, look to destinations with lots of air access from Ireland – places like the Costa del Sol, Faro or Lisbon, which now has direct flights with three airlines, Ryanair, Aer Lingus and TAP.

“Majorca is pretty busy this year,” he adds. “It’s one of the most popular bookings we’re seeing both for this year and next. There aren’t as many bargains on the Balearics as there are for mainland Spain and Portugal.”

“There is an over-capacity situation with the airlines at the moment,” adds Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents’ Association.

“Surprisingly, there are still very good airfares available in July and August, which over the past two or three years, wasn’t the case.”

This week, for example, Ryanair is offering last-minute August getaways to destinations like Carcassonne and Lisbon from €24.99 each-way, while Aer Lingus has a July 4 sale offering €50 off return flights on its North American network.

Flexibility is also key in the hunt for a late deal.

“Rather than going from Saturday to Saturday, see if you can go out on a Tuesday and back on a Wednesday, for example,” John Spollen tips.

“There are a lot of people who want to travel at weekends, so airfares are higher. For companies that are packaging dynamically with low-cost airlines, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are good days to go out and come back.”

Meanwhile, though we may be leaving things late, a new survey from Laya Healthcare says over three quarters of Irish adults will eventually take holidays this summer, spending billions on flights, accommodation, food, drink and entertainment.

Spain is our favourite sun holiday destination, the survey suggests – chosen by over 22pc of Irish adults taking summer trips – followed by the USA, Portugal, Italy and France, results broadly in line with CSO statistics.

Despite the annual exodus, however, the survey – commissioned to promote a 20pc discount Laya is offering on travel insurance – found that many sunseekers still miss the taste of home.

14pc of Irish holidaymakers bring tea bags on holiday, it discovered – with one in twenty packing sausages “as an essential”.

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