Comment: Liam Race, Leger Shearings Group chief executive, urges agents to look close to home for booking opportunities
The past two years have seen the rise of the staycation, and while great British holidays are still immensely popular, at long last, international travel is back.
The industry is seeing phenomenal sales for European destinations, with tourist hotspots such as Lake Como, the Dutch bulbfields and the Costa Brava proving popular in escorted touring.
While many customers are ready to embrace the world once again, agents would be wise to also focus their attention on a closer-to-home destination: Ireland.
Ideal for customers who are looking to discover somewhere new, but aren’t yet ready to travel as far as mainland European destinations, Ireland is the perfect choice.
Just a short hop across the Irish Sea, you can explore Ireland on a mini break, which makes it a great choice for those who need to make the most of weekends, annual leave and bank holidays; agents can certainly tap into this market.
Its close proximity also makes it a home-away-from-home, and a very safe holiday destination – something customers currently deem an important factor when booking an escorted tour.
With the cost of living also rising, Ireland is a budget-conscious destination. Relatively small but bursting with sights and attractions, a fully escorted tour gives visitors the chance to take in a multitude of iconic locations on just one holiday.
Not only is this a great way for travel agents to entice new customers who may not usually choose an escorted tour, it also offers existing customers fantastic value for money – a hassle-free, ‘full package’ experience with travel, accommodation and excursions included.
So, what is it that makes the Emerald Isle so special? Whether customers are looking for spectacular coastlines, breathtaking national parks, quaint villages clad with history or contemporary cities boasting modern attractions, there really is something for all interests.
You can expect the friendliest of welcomes and the warmest hospitality when visiting – another USP for agents – and, of course, no holiday would be complete without sampling a pint of the ‘Black Stuff’.
Most sought-after destinations include Dublin, Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula and the Wild Atlantic Way, with Waterford, Wexford and the West Coast also proving popular – and we can’t forget about historical Belfast and the remarkable Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
There’s a wide range of fully escorted tours of Ireland to choose from, encompassing everything from heritage experiences to beautiful garden visits, and agents can offer a one-on-one, tailored approach when selling holidays to the Emerald Isle.
Ireland has also lifted all Covid-19 travel restrictions for passengers when visiting, making it a cheaper and more convenient holiday destination.
With no proof of vaccination required and the removal of the Passenger Locator Form, customers can enjoy easy, stress-free travel, which is something the industry has been longing for.
Again, agents can utilise this when assisting customers with their bookings for this year, as we know this is a huge selling point for many.
The world has reopened, yes, but I urge travel agents not to forget about what’s on our doorstep – a unique holiday destination, brimming with history, awe-inspiring scenery and the very best craic in Europe!