NI Travel news takes a look into what the next decade of travel and tourism will bring as we reflect on the industry’s past year…
Holiday makers have never been so adventurous and high street travel agents are waiting in the wings, ready to get their customers booked on their trip of a lifetime.
As holiday trends have evolved, from the sun, sand and sea holidays of the early noughties, to the more recent action packed adrenaline filled expeditions, the ever-loved package holiday has kept up the pace to stay one of the most popular ways to travel.
Sharon Fleming from Thompson Travel spoke of the coming year and the expected travel trends of the new decade: “2020 is the year for exploring. Customers want new experiences, adventures and memories. As I have seen many times in the last year, the quote, ‘Go somewhere each year you haven’t been before’.
“There are so many new destinations that give sun and culture from Belfast,” she added.
As tour operators strive to keep ahead of the curve to meet the needs and expectations of modern travellers, travel options have become more flexible to suit the needs of the most bespoke wish list. The world has never been more accessible from the island of Ireland, with new routes from Belfast and Dublin, including services to Shanghai, Italy, and Morocco, not to mention a taste of the ever popular American dream, with new routes to San Francisco, Dallas and Charleston.
Hazel Simpson of Limavady Travel has enjoyed a successful 2019, and is looking forward to a busy 2020: “So far we have seen a trend towards USA holidays with Nashville being particularly popular. I think January will be interesting as no one can be sure of how it will turn out without the seats of Thomas Cook and with easyJet now offering holidays.” Amidst their successes of the past year, Limavady Travel scooped the coveted award for “Travel Agent of the Year 2019” at the NI Travel and Tourism Awards.
Our own tourism industry at home has had a wonderfully successful year itself and is booming, as Belfast saw a wave of 275,923 cruise visitors in 2019 and a leisure trade made up of day visitors and city break stoppers giving the city a £2 million economy boost!
Our environmental wake up call of the last decade continues to move a new ‘eco’ initiative forward in the travel industry. As holidaymakers are becoming more eco-aware with their travel options, tour operators and cruise companies are making big changes for more environmentally mindful travel in 2020. Also the great Northern Ireland Staycation is growing in momentum.
2019 was the year of cruise and 2020 looks as though the sea-fairing travellers are intent on continuing their voyages. Sandra Corkin of Oasis Travel is looking forward to a busy start to the year: “We are looking forward to a very busy January particularly with cruise as the campaigns and booking incentives are very strong and the improvement in exchange rates will help with holiday prices.”
With the highs and lows of 2019 for the travel industry, the high street travel agent remains the first stop for holidaymakers who are keen to rack up those ever coveted ticks off the bucket list while having the security of an ATOL-protected trip.
With 2019 being a year of change and growth for many, Nicola Allison from Hays Travel anticipates what is to come: “This year is definitely an exciting year as we are now part of the Hays Travel family. I am really looking forward to 2020. With the Hays Travel branding now officially above our stores we can really welcome existing and new customers into the stores and showcase what the Hays way is all about – delivering excellent service and offering a product that perfectly suits them.
“Being part of the UK’s Largest Independent Travel Agent has opened a new world of suppliers to our teams and to our customers with new routes being added for both Belfast and Dublin we can’t wait to see what this year will bring.
“Customer demand since we opened in October has been overwhelming and the messages of support from both customers and suppliers has been amazing. I am excited to be working with our local communities and charities this year and we have already started planning how we can support great causes in our local areas.”
So here’s to looking forward with 20:20 and a great new, exciting decade for travel and tourism.