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'People just want something to look forward to'

Antrobus: 'The market is a lot more positive and there’s more client confidence out there'
Antrobus: 'The market is a lot more positive and there’s more client confidence out there'

"So far, summer has been OK," says Gemma Antrobus, owner of Surrey-based independent Haslemere Travel and chair of Aito Agents. "We've had clients travel, and they've all been really successful trips. Everyone’s had a great time. And they’ve been grateful for the support we’ve given with the testing process.


"If people really want to go away, they’ll live with the red tape. Just the other day, a client told me: “If the holiday is half as good as the help you’ve given us, we’re going to have an amazing time.”


"The market is a lot more positive and there’s more client confidence out there. There’s still a little bit of movement of bookings over the next few months, but nothing like it has been. I’ve seen a lot of new enquiries, particularly for October half-term from people who haven’t got away this summer.


"Lots of people are looking at the Caribbean and some a bit closer to home, like the Canary Islands and Cyprus, which is really good. A lot of clients have been looking forward to 2022 and cruises all the way up to 2024, especially with some lines putting those schedules on sale already.


"For those who usually book off-season, that has stayed the same. I’ve found that where some families haven’t had holidays either last year or this year, they are already planning for August 2022. They’re booking the bucket-list trips like the US, big cruises, Disney, Indian Ocean, Maldives, Africa – the list goes on.

 

"They would normally book a lot later in the year, or the year of travel, but for some it’s a case of 'we just need something to look forward to'."

Rarely do we tip the transport secretary our hat, but Grant Shapps duly kept his word in August after promising a month of stable travel rules. It’s been deathly quiet so far as ministerial intervention on travel is concerned, with agents – and clients – tentatively seizing on this rare period of calm. As Mark Johnson notes above, it comes at a critical juncture, with the next few months likely to define the trade’s fortunes during the winter. Perhaps ministers could do agents another favour, in more ways than one, by popping down to their local independent to book themselves a late-summer or autumn getaway so agents can get on with the business of selling travel without all the meddling?

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