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Recent terror attacks see Northern Ireland travellers switch to safer holiday spots

By Rachel Martin

Published 22/07/2016

Thousands pay their respects to the people killed in last week’s terror attack in Nice
Thousands pay their respects to the people killed in last week’s terror attack in Nice

This month's terror attack in Nice and attempted coup in Turkey are hitting the confidence of would-be travellers from Northern Ireland, travel agents have said.

Companies said Northern Ireland sunseekers were changing the destinations they were picking in light of recent terrorism.

And Doreen McKenzie, owner of Knock Travel, said holidaymakers were now more likely to choose destinations they felt were safer rather than go for a cheap option.

Ms McKenzie said countries in the west of Europe such as Spain and Italy were generally perceived as safer.

But the proximity of the attack last week in Nice, in which 84 people died, along with the terror which swept the French capital in November, when 130 people died, were giving pause for thought to those who would otherwise go to France.

"Families could imagine themselves in Paris (when it happened) and we have noticed bookings for Disneyland Paris are down," she said.

"But on the other hand, Spain was the first country to book out this year despite the cost of holidays there rising by around 20%.

"And it's not just tourists here choosing to go to the west - it's the Germans, French and Russians who are doing the same."

And she said last weekend's attempted coup in Turkey, which led to the loss of over 200 lives, had not yet had any impact on bookings.

It comes as easyJet reports a drop of around 10% in bookings. The firm said the combination of the weakening pound and international terrorism had cost it around £40m.

Ms McKenzie said that the full impact of currency fluctuations - triggered by a weakening pound following the vote to leave the EU - was not likely to be felt by consumers until next year.

"Airlines don't buy the oil they need a week in advance - they do what is known as hedging and buy a full year's worth of fuel when the dollar price and dollar are at their best so it's likely we will see the impact next year," she said.

Meanwhile, Terry Murphy of Terra Travel, which has three travel agents in Co Armagh, said tourists were beginning to return to their old favourite destinations in Spain.

"Tunisia was nearly wiped off the tourist map after their problems with terrorism, but all in all long haul flights have held up well. Destinations like New York and Las Vegas - where we offer a twin city package - seem to have been immune," he said.

"We've noticed a drop in bookings to the Greek islands, but a lot of interest in Spain - particularly Benidorm and the Balearic Islands. People seem to be going back to places they know and had a good time in the past."

Mr Murphy said the last few years have been "buoyant" in the tourism industry.

"The first few months of this year have been very strong but this month has been unpredictable and would probably put us level with last year again," he said.

Mr Murphy added he had noticed a shift in the way people were travelling.

"The typical holiday we used to sell was two adults, two children for two weeks in Spain. Now we're noticing people are travelling for shorter periods but more frequently - people are travelling two or three times a year instead," he said.

"We're on an island and people still want to get away - they see a holiday as a necessity rather than a luxury."

Belfast Telegraph

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