There has been an “immediate recovery” in holiday bookings following the recent lifting of restrictions, according to a travel agent.
John Galligan, of John Galligan Travel, told BreakingNews.ie he had noticed an increase in people committing to holiday dates for June and July.
Mr Galligan said: ‘Having had two years with nothing to look forward to, they book a holiday for June or July, they book and commit and say ‘now I have something to look forward to’.
“A lot of these people haven’t had the opportunity to spend money in the last two years. People have lost two years of their lives. People, especially older people, are very aware of these two wasted years.”
Since the restrictions have been reduced, people are engaging, that’s the big difference.
He added: “To be frank, we spent two years wondering what we were doing, mostly giving money back to people rather than accepting from them. We are now seeing an influx of money and people engage.
“It’s good because there’s nothing more frustrating, and you get that in times like a pandemic, where people ring and inquire, and say ‘I’ll get back to you,’ and you answer the same questions, but people are nervous so they won’t engage and that’s understandable.
“Since the restrictions have been reduced, people are engaging, that’s the big difference.”
Mr Galligan’s advice to people planning holidays this summer is to ‘sit down, pick dates’ and book early, as he warned demand and prices will only rise if people decide to bet on a late booking.
“My recommendation to anyone considering a vacation this year is to sit down and figure out when they’ll be comfortable traveling and book now, because waiting another three months will see them paying twice or three times the price.”
He added: “There’s a cat and mouse with the airlines and the cruise lines right now because they’re increasing capacity in the hope that demand will explode, they’re seeing it’s not exploding. as quickly as they planned, and they cancel , so lots of cancellations, rebookings, rescheduling, it’s frustrating, but they try to gauge the demand and when the big wave will hit them.
“It’s about assessing the market demand, it’s building and the boom is not far away, when it comes everything will fill up.
“Keep in mind that the Irish traditionally book late, but compare that to what we’re looking for; hotels, cruise ships, airplane seats.
“These are the same ones the Germans, the French, the Spanish, the English, the Americans are looking for, a lot of these nationalities tend to book earlier than us, there is the danger that they will come in first, and we will get the expensive stuff That said, which is unusual for Irish people, we are already seeing people booking for 2023 and 2024 which is unheard of for Irish people.
He said travel demand is the “most positive outlook” since before the pandemic hit in 2019.
“Those who are still a bit nervous might book these later dates. This is the most positive outlook we have had since 2019, it was a reasonably good year, the first good one after the financial crisis 10 years prior, so we finally getting on our feet before being knocked down by Covid, but this year will hopefully be the one to make up for some of the lost time.”
Much of Mr. Galligan’s business is bucket list travel and cruises, and he expects to fill every available slot this year.
Travel insurance has always been important for vacationers, and it’s even more so when you’re traveling during a pandemic.
Jason Whelan, head of travel at Blue Insurance and Multitrip.com, told BreakingNews.ie that the most important thing with travel insurance is to book it soon after you book a holiday, or before.
He explained that while all policies now include Covid cover, it is not covered in the first seven days.
“That’s my number one tip, make sure you book your travel insurance before you travel, there’s no point in waiting two days before you travel or anything like that, so make sure you’ve purchased your policy before purchasing your trip.
“With the Covid cancellation policy there is no cover for claims within the first seven days, this is to prevent people who show symptoms from getting a policy and just looking to make a claim immediately so again that’s why make sure when you buy your trip you buy your insurance either through your travel agent or if not go online and do it the same evening.
“It’s not just Covid either, it covers you for all medical issues, there’s no benefit in preventing you from getting a cheaper rate or anything like that.”
He added: “Insurance isn’t the most exciting thing about a holiday, but it’s important to make sure the costs of your trip are protected, so book it straight away.
“Most people won’t read the full terms and conditions, but be sure to read the main coverages, policy excesses and limits, pre-existing medical conditions.
“If you book the cheapest policy with a family of four, you might lose €300 or €400 with the excess, so that’s important.
“If you go more than once a year there is much more value in a multi-trip policy, it starts at €17.95 for an individual or €36.49 for a family and that’s for unlimited travel during the year.”
Mr Whelan said the resumption of travel and the pandemic itself had both contributed to a huge increase in demand for travel insurance.
He said policy sales were up 120% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.
“The main reasons for this are returning to travel, people wanting to get away from it all again, and consumers are now more aware of the need for travel insurance, especially policies that cover you against exposure to Covid. .
“Our policies would include cancellation cover if you test positive or a family member tests positive for Covid and you can’t go, that was a big driver of the increase in sales. We we made sure that when we went out to market in July that we added the benefits of Covid.
“Medical is also important. Frequency-wise, it’s less likely that you’ll be overseas and need serious medical attention due to Covid, but it could happen, and if so, the medical expenses of the police would also cover this.
“We’ve added these three areas, and the main reason people have taken it out is to cover exposure to cancellation, if they have to extend their stay abroad or if they get sick with Covid. abroad, it will cover that.
“Given its importance, it’s not like an extra cover that some will want and some won’t, it’s included in all of our policies.
“The main difference between premier and premier plus is in the deductibles, the first part of the claim you will have to pay. On our multitrip.com product, which is our primary direct travel insurance proposition, the deductible on our premier plus is of zero, so we find that a greater proportion of customers subscribe to premier plus as opposed to lower levels of coverage.
“Before Covid a lot of people would have opted for the lower ones a lot, whereas now most spend a few extra euros and for an extra €10 or €15 people take the higher level of cover.
“Covid benefits are the same for everyone, the only difference would be the amount you are covered for, you would have different limits for cancellation and medical care.”
All travelers must now have had a second vaccination within nine months, proof of recovery from Covid within the last six months or a booster vaccination to travel within the European Union.
Original EU Covid digital certificates issued since July 2021 have an expiry date of nine months from the date of the second vaccination or the date of the Janssen single dose.
All travelers will need to have an up-to-date EU Covid digital certification showing their booster vaccination or an EU digital Covid certification showing proof of recovery if they had Covid.
Paul Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), said: “It has been well reported by the European Union that the original EU Digital Covid certificates are valid for nine months. With the level of booster vaccinations in this country, everyone who has received a reminder can obtain their updated European digital certificate.”