Holiday bookings down as war looms

SUFFOLK travel agencies are feeling the strain as bookings plummet compared to this time last year.The threat of war in Iraq is seriously affecting travel agents with businesses all over the region reporting a downturn in trade.

SUFFOLK travel agencies are feeling the strain as bookings plummet compared to this time last year.

The threat of war in Iraq is seriously affecting travel agents with businesses all over the region reporting a downturn in trade.

Ipswich's Travel Stop told The Evening Star that advanced sales for the summer are down by as much as 50 per cent.

But David Caddick, publicity manager of the specialist tour operator Arena Travel, in Felixstowe, said: "Sales are down on last year although we expected this due to the situation at the moment. Some people are holding back, waiting to see what happens.


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"People are still travelling, requesting brochures and we are still taking bookings and we haven't had any cancellations," he said.

Bookings so far show people are reluctant to travel further afield but there has been an increase in trips to the Mediterranean.

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This comes after Foreign Office warnings to avoid all non essential travel to areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Jordan, Israel and the occupied territories, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar and Bahrain.

Frances Tuke from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said there was no cause for concern.

She underlined the fact that during the last Gulf War sales dropped to holiday destinations between 55-60 per cent but bounced back immediately after the cease-fire resulting in an industry loss of only 4 per cent.

Although January bookings have been down this year between 15-20 per cent, December was a positive month.

"Those planning a holiday this year have already booked or have every intention of doing so. No one is cancelling," she added.

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