Barrhead Travel has opened a dedicated cruise centre at one of its Edinburgh stores following a six-figure investment.
The opening of a “Cruise Centre of Excellence” at the firm’s Queensferry Road branch has created 14 jobs including two modern apprenticeships in the area.
The move comes as trade body, Cruise Lines International Association, reports that record numbers of Brits are choosing to venture on a cruise, with figures revealing 1.78 million Brits opted for just such a holiday last year.
Barrhead, which has sunk £250,000 into its cruise centre and now has 61 stores across the UK, said it had witnessed a sharp rise in cruise customers across the board and the new centre in the capital follows on from the success of its cruise call centres in Glasgow, Falkirk and Cumbria.
Catriona Parsons, the travel group’s cruise director, said: “More and more customers are choosing to cruise, and we have witnessed an increasing demand for cruise holidays in the last 12 months with bookings soaring by over 60 per cent.
“We’ve chosen to open a dedicated Cruise Centre of Excellence because we recognise that while there are many customers who don’t mind interacting over the telephone, there is still a significant amount of people who would much prefer the opportunity to speak to a specialist cruise consultant face-to-face.
“Our new cruise centre provides that tailored service and will be staffed by travel consultants who have first-hand experience of the cruises they sell.”
Founded in 1975 by an ex-bank worker, Bill Munro, and operating from premises in the Glasgow suburb of Barrhead with just one member of staff and a trainee, Barrhead’s first steps in the travel business were tentative and small.
The company has grown into a travel giant with some 850 staff and in 2002 it opened the first “city centre travel superstore” in the UK, in the heart of Glasgow.