Holidaymakers advised to book trips and insurance early amid 'upswing' in demand

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Holidaymakers Advised To Book Trips And Insurance Early Amid 'Upswing' In Demand Holidaymakers Advised To Book Trips And Insurance Early Amid 'Upswing' In Demand
There was an "immediate upswing" in holiday bookings following the recent lifting of restrictions, according to a travel agent.
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James Cox

There was an "immediate upswing" in holiday bookings following the recent lifting of restrictions, according to a travel agent.

John Galligan, of John Galligan Travel, told BreakingNews.ie that he has 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’re booking holidays for June or July, they’re booking and committing and saying ‘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 in the older age brackets, are very conscious of these lost two years."

Since the restrictions have been reduced people are committing, that’s the big difference.

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He added: "To be frank, we’ve had two years of wondering what the hell we’re doing, mostly giving money back to people rather than accepting money from them. We’re seeing an inflow of funds now and people are committing.

"That’s good because there’s nothing more frustrating, and you get this in times like a pandemic, where people will ring and enquire, and say ‘I’ll get back to you’, and you’re answering the same questions, but people are nervous, so they won’t commit and that’s understandable.

"Since the restrictions have been reduced people are committing, that’s the big difference."

Mr Galligan's advice to people who are planning a holiday this summer is to "sit down, pick dates" and book early, as he warned demand, and prices, will only increase if people decide to gamble on booking late.

"My recommendation to anyone who is considering a holiday this year is to sit down and consider when they will be comfortable travelling and to book that now, because waiting for another three months will see them paying twice or three times the price."

He added: "There’s cat and mouse going on with airlines and cruise companies at the moment because they’re putting on capacity in the hopes demand will explode, they’re finding it’s not exploding as quickly as they expected, and they’re cancelling, so there’s a lot of this cancelling, re-booking, re-scheduling, it’s frustrating, but they’re trying to gauge demand and when the big wave will hit them.

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"It’s about gauging market demand, it’s building and the boom is not far away, when it does come everything out there will fill.

"Bear in mind, Irish people book late traditionally, but contrast that with the stuff we’re looking for; hotels, cruise ships, airline seats.

"These are the same ones the Germans, French, Spanish, English, Americans are looking for, a lot of those nationalities tend to book earlier than us, there is the danger that they will get in first, and we will get the expensive stuff at the end. Having said that, unusually for Irish people, we’re seeing people booking for 2023 and 2024 already which is unheard of for Irish people."

'Positive outlook'

He said the demand for travel is the "most positive outlook" since before the pandemic hit in 2019.

"Those who are still a bit nervous might book these later dates. It’s the most positive outlook we’ve had since 2019, that was a reasonably good year, the first good one after the financial crisis 10 years before, so we were finally getting back on our feet before we were knocked on our backsides by Covid, but this year will hopefully be the one to make up for some of the lost time."

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A lot of Mr Galligan's business is in bucket list trips and cruises, and he expects to fill all available slots this year.

Travel insurance has always been important for holidaymakers, and it is even more important when travelling during a pandemic.

Jason Whelan, head of travel with Blue Insurance and Multitrip.com, told BreakingNews.ie that the most important thing with travel insurance is to book it soon after booking a holiday, or before.

He explained that while all policies now include Covid cover, it is not covered within the first seven days.

Insurance tips

"That’s my number one advice, make sure you book your travel insurance before your trip, there’s no point in holding off until two days before you travel or anything like that so make sure you have your policy purchased before you purchase your trip.

"With the Covid policy for cancellation there’s no cover for any claims within the first seven days, that’s to stop people who have symptoms getting a policy and just looking to make a claim straight away, so again that’s why make sure when you purchase your trip you purchase your insurance either with your travel agent or if it’s not go online and do it that evening.

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"It’s not just Covid either, it covers you for any medical issues, there’s no benefit to holding off you don’t get a cheaper rate or anything like that."

He added: "Insurance isn’t the most exciting holiday related thing, but it’s important to make sure your trip costs are protected so book it right away.

"Most people won’t read the full terms and conditions but make sure you read the key covers, policy excesses and limits, pre-existing medical conditions.

"If you book the cheapest policy with a family of four you could lose €300 or €400 with excess, so that’s important.

"If you’re going away more than once a year, there’s 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 trips during the year."

Mr Whelan said the resumption of travel, and the pandemic itself, have both contributed to a huge surge in demand for travel insurance.

He said sales of policies were up by 120 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

Covid cover

"The main reasons for that are the return to travel, people wanting to get away again, and there’s greater consumer awareness now of the need for travel insurance, especially policies that give you cover for Covid exposure.

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"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 one of the main drivers of the boost in sales. We made sure when we went out to market it in July that we had the Covid benefits added in.

"The medical one is also important. It is less likely from a frequency perspective to happen that you’re abroad, and you need serious medical attention due to Covid, but it could happen, and in that case the medical expenses on the policy would also cover that.

"We’ve added those three areas, and the main reason people have taken it out is to cover the cancellation exposure, if they have to extend their stay abroad or if they get ill with Covid abroad it will cover that.

"Given the importance of it, it’s not like an additional cover that some will want and others will not, it’s included on all of our policies.

"The main difference with premier and premier plus is excesses, the first part of the claim that you’ll have to pay. On our multitrip.com product which is our main direct travel insurance proposition the excess on our premier plus is zero, so we’re seeing a greater proportion of customers taking out premier plus as opposed to lower levels of cover.

"Pre-Covid a lot of people would have gone for the lower ones a lot, whereas now most are spending the extra few euro and for the sake of an extra €10 or €15 people are taking the higher level of cover.

"The Covid benefits are the same across them all, the only difference would be the amount you’re covered for you’d have different limits for cancellation and medical."

All travellers are now required to have had a second vaccination within nine months, proof of Covid recovery within the past six months or a booster vaccination in order to travel within the European Union.

Original EU digital Covid certifications issued since last July 2021 have a nine-month expiry from the date of the second vaccination or the date of the single dose Janssen.

All travellers will be required to have an updated EU digital Covid 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 flagged by the European Union that the original EU Digital Covid certs have a nine-month validity. With the level of booster vaccinations in this country, everyone who has had a booster can get their updated EU digital cert."

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