Holiday costs soar by as much as 71 per cent – Which?

Holidaymakers face soaring prices as they book breaks this year, with some air fares increasing by as much as 71 per cent, consumer group Which? has warned.

However, travel agents in Scotland reported “very healthy” demand, with some travellers even trading up to more expensive trips after having to postpone holidays during the pandemic. Barrhead Travel, which has 45 branches across Scotland and England, said it had recorded a record-breaking week last week.

Price rise details came as the Office for National Statistics reported a 44.1 per cent increase in the cost of air travel last month compared to a year ago – the highest for nearly 34 years.

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Which? said flight prices to 15 popular destinations in Europe and the US this Easter had increased by an average of 51 per cent compared to last year. The research by air fares analyst Skytra covered six English airports, but the Scottish Passenger Agents Association (SPAA) said the whole of the UK and other countries were experiencing such rises.

Air fares to Greece and Italy increased by the most, Which? reported. Picture: Dutchpilot22/Adobe

Fares to Italy and Greece were up by 71 per cent, while those to the US saw the smallest rises, of 31 per cent.

Package holiday prices this summer were up by an average of 19 per cent on last year for those who booked in November and December, according to data from travelsupermarket.com also reported by Which?

Holidays in Greece went up by even more (30 per cent) with those in Italy, Spain and Turkey more than 20 per cent more expensive. The research also covered Portugal, which experienced only a 7 per cent rise, Turkey and Cyprus.

Which? said data from Kayak had found hotel prices outside Europe had increased by an average of 23 per cent at Easter compared to last year, and 10 per cent in Europe.

SPAA president Mike Tibbert, whose organisation represents 120 firms in the travel industry north of the Border, said: “These figures are not unexpected and last year, SPAA members were encouraging holidaymakers to book early for 2023 trips in anticipation of price increases.

“The cost of living is impacting all areas of our lives and travel is no different. The UK is not the only country facing price rises for all items and services.

“Despite this, demand and bookings for all holiday types are both very healthy. Contrary to what one might expect in a cost-of-living crisis, members tell us that holidays in the upper price brackets remain amongst the most popular.

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"It’s a trend which started as soon as travel lockdowns were lifted. Travellers who had ‘missed’ several holidays opted to trade up. This booking pattern seems to be continuing into 2023.”

Barrhead Travel president Jacqueline Dobson said: “Last week was a record booking week for our business, showing that demand for travel is still higher than ever. People have been booking earlier than usual and demand for popular destinations is particularly high."

However, she said the price of cruises had come down over the past decade because of significant growth in the sector.

Which? editor Rory Boland said: “Travellers are likely to experience significantly higher prices than they’re used to for a trip away this year, with huge demand for holidays combining with inflationary pressure to create a perfect storm of spiralling costs.”

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