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Things looking sunnier for Northern Ireland's travel agents as more now use traditional way of booking their holiday

By John Mulgrew

Published 31/12/2015

Anna Henry has a whole world of options at her fingertips as she launches the Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show
Anna Henry has a whole world of options at her fingertips as she launches the Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show

Holidaymakers here are increasingly turning to travel agents to book their time abroad and are also less likely to be put-off by terror attacks, industry experts have said.

And sales among traditional travel agents are up, with people here also opting for long-haul destinations, according to industry experts.

According to Delia Aston, managing director of Clubworld Travel - which has seven outlets across Northern Ireland - her business has enjoyed a "good increase" in trade over the last year.

"It's been a really good year. We have seven shops in Northern Ireland, and every single one has been very good," she said.

She said the business - which is also showcasing at next month's Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show - had witnessed a surge in long-haul holiday destinations, including the Middle East and South America.

Cruises have also continued to remain popular.

"People in Northern Ireland are becoming more adventurous."

The boost in retail business has also been felt by Knock Travel boss Doreen McKenzie, who has two branches in Belfast.

"My business has been a mixture, and is mainly business travel management, with government contracts, which hasn't been a good year.

"But the other side, my two retail shops, have been exceptionally good. This year and the last there have been the green shoots after the recession.

"It's been a good year overall, and everyone (in the trade) has said the same thing."

And despite the latest terror attack to hit Paris - in which 130 died last month - Ms McKenzie said: "Northern Ireland is probably the most resilient place in the UK.

"People think 'no terrorist is going to put me off'," she said.

"People put that to the back of their mind. By and large, if things keep steady towards the end of the year, people will book anyway."

And both experts say some people are moving away from online, with customers turning to companies who can plan and package a complete holiday.

"People are coming back to traditional bricks and mortar travel businesses like ourselves," Ms McKenzie said.

"They are looking for that bit of personal touch, and face-to-face contact which is good."

As for next year, Ms McKenzie said she expected sales to remain strong, with growth picking up across Europe.

"I was born an optimist. I think next year will continue to be a good retail year. Businesses are still suffering, so business travel will still suffer with the reduction in the public sector not having hit yet," she said.

"This year there was a big pick-up in the US, and that might be down to two reasons. One, the dollar rate, and also it's perceived as a relatively safe place to go."

For those already planning where to go for a weekend away during the spring break, or a long-haul summer holiday with the entire family, thousands are set to descend on this year's Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show in January.

This year's Holiday World Show takes place at the new Titanic Exhibition Centre on January 15 to 17. For more information on the event, please visit www.holidayworldshow.com

Belfast Telegraph

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