Holiday firms launch early booking price war

Hotel News - 29/12/2008

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The range of deals on offers includes extra holiday weeks, free children’s places and waived flight supplements.

Travellers are being warned that early booking may be the only way to secure a holiday bargain for 2009, as operators have cut capacity due to the recession and there may be few if any last-minute discounted deals available.

Holidays booked by February with Thomas Cook will be discounted by 10 per cent, and customers will see savings of as much as £400. Summer 2009 holidays booked through First Choice will feature up to £200 off.

Airlines have also waged a price war to entice customers wary of spending in the current economic climate. British Airways and Virgin have reduced prices on fares to a number of long-haul destinations, and foreign airlines operating from the UK, such as Emirates and Lufthansa, have followed their lead.

Travel companies are offering the discounts as they are aware the weak pound will likely further discourage UK holidaymakers from taking long overseas breaks in 2009. Early bookings to Spanish destinations are down by 22 per cent, according to Co-operative Travel, the largest independent travel agent in the UK.

Bookings to destinations outside the euro-zone are up, with Turkey seeing an increase of eight per cent and Egypt a rise of 49 per cent, as travellers look to destinations where their pound will buy more.

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