Agents slash cost of holidays in the sun

RICHARD BALLS Travel firms hit by the World Cup and sizzling temperatures at home are offering cheap price deals to holiday destinations in a desperate bid to pick up trade.

RICHARD BALLS

Travel firms hit by the World Cup and sizzling temperatures at home are offering cheap price deals to holiday destinations in a desperate bid to pick up trade.

Hundreds of pounds have been knocked off the cost of a week in the sun with holidays being sold for as little as £80 as companies and tour operators emerge from the shadow of the World Cup and try to coax people enjoying the sunshine at home to go abroad.

Norwich International Airport has seen traffic soar by between 40pc and 50pc on the same period last year since the arrival of low-cost carrier Flybe, which has added about 15 new routes for passengers in the region.

But travel agents around the region and in the rest of the country are reporting a slowing down of trade in recent weeks, partly caused by people staying at home to watch the World Cup and hot weather here, and say fewer holidaymakers are booking in advance.

A spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents said the best bargains were holiday packages to Turkey because of the impact of bird flu outbreak there earlier this year.

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"The avian flu outbreak affected Turkey in February which is traditionally the month many people book holidays," they said.

"It hit Turkey very hard and bookings were down 40pc because of that. If you want a cheap deal, then that is the country to pick." Travel firm Thomson is offering savings of up to £200 on the brochure price of holidays and Thomas Cook is offering vacations in Turkey for £82.

A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: "This summer is exceptional. At this time of year there are always some holidays left to sell, but this year there has been more than usual."

A spokeswoman at the Norwich branch of Galaxy Travel said trade had picked up since England were knocked out of the World Cup in Germany, but there had been a "slowdown" and there were some unusually cheap deals on offer.

"People are looking for later deals, but the travel trade has also changed enormously," she said. "We used to be able to get amazing late deals that we don't get so much now.

"At the moment we are offering a lead-in price of £81 for Gran Canaria from Norwich, self-catering for a week. We have not seen that kind of price for a couple of years, but then it goes in phases because the tour operators don't want people to keep waiting until the last minute."

Bettatravel in Lowestoft, which specialises in tailor-made travel and long-haul destinations, said there was no doubt the World Cup had been a blow to business.

"Trade has certainly picked up since it all finished," said Marilyn Coverson. "It's incredible that it had such a large impact on us."

Independence Travel in Fakenham said there was no doubt the World Cup had slowed trade, but said there was generally a move away from package deals towards more tailor-made holidays.

"We are doing more dynamic holidays and booking flights, accommodation and other things separately," said a spokeswoman.

"People are getting more adventurous."