Joanne Dooey, vice-president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association
Joanne Dooey, vice-president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association

Scots snapping up last-minute sunshine breaks

Scottish holidaymakers have snapped up last-minute short-haul sunshine deals after a sluggish start to bookings earlier in the year, according to the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA).

Thousands of Scots booked late deals through travel agents when the summer heatwave failed to emerge, with beach resorts across Europe topping the list of destinations.

SPAA vice president Joanne Dooey said that the late deals market had spiked massively in June and July, with fed-up holidaymakers who had planned to stay at home making a last-minute decision to jet off.

She said: ‘There was a very poor start to the year, and I think that was down to a lot of people deciding not to go abroad because of Brexit, which was initially supposed to happen in March.

‘But ever since June we have seen confidence in the market start to return. I think this is down to a number of factors. People knew that Brexit would not affect summer holidays after being extended to October 31; the summer heatwave failed to emerge after an initial hot spell of weather at Easter; and people realised that staying at home and arranging days out with the family can be quite costly.

‘Some of my own team have almost 30 years of experience in travel and they cannot remember a time when so many people were coming in to book late deals. I think, overall, people have been feeling a bit fed up and a holiday gives them something to look forward to.

‘The Costas, Canaries, Turkey and Greece have all seen a really strong lates market and we are also seeing more people booking for next summer than we would normally expect at this time of year.

‘For 2020, it looks like the early booker will be the winner as there will be less capacity for travelling directly from Scottish airports.’

Joanne Dooey, vice-president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association

While late deals for Europe have been snapped up this summer, the luxury and long-haul market has remained sluggish throughout 2019. Ms Dooey believes this is one area of the travel industry where the potential fall-out from Brexit may still be having an impact.

She added: ‘The luxury market has been quite difficult this year as many of the affluent customers booking high-end holidays have investment portfolios that could be affected by Brexit or run businesses that trade with Europe. They are much cagier and are adopting a wait and see approach.’

The collapse of Thomas Cook underlined the importance of consumer protection, particularly the ATOL scheme which ensures that most British travellers shouldn’t be left out of pocket or stranded overseas. The operator’s demise triggered the biggest ever peacetime repatriation to bring more than 150,000 British holidaymakers home.

The SPAA, founded in 1921, is the world’s oldest organisation representing travel agents. It currently has 120 members and 92 associate members across the travel and transport industry.