Frightened Holiday Firms Slash their Prices

The war has created a spate of holiday bargains to places that most travellers often dream of but can ill afford.

The travel industry has cut by hundreds of pounds trips to locations close to Iraq, such as Egypt and Turkey. Some operators have offered discounts of up to 70 pe rcent to boost flagging holiday sales brought on by military action.

The conflict has also seen a slump in visitors to the United Kingdom, particularly from the United States and French visitors angry at Britain’s stance on the war.

Sean Tipton, of the Association of British Travel Agents
(ABTA), said customers could expect a golden six weeks of overseas holiday bargains.

Many companies are expected to cut the number of breaks on offer by May to match the falling number of holiday makers and limit their losses.


“Prices in March and April are some of the lowest ever” Mr Tipton said “Tour operators and airlines are trying to stimulate demand. However, if the war goes on prices will go up. If you want to travel, now is the time to book.”

Seven night deals are widely available from £99 a person for sunshine destinations such as Ibiza, the Costa Blanca and Menorca, and a family of four can fly to Tenerife and stay seven nights in a three star hotel for £70 each. Other offers include a £1 a night stay at hotels and apartments in Majorca, Crete and the Algarve through internet operator

Stuart Lewis, managing director of Peltours
, which specialises in holidays to the Middle East, said that prices had dropped to “ridiculous levels” in an attempt to attract customers. “The war has hit our industry for six because people want to stay at home. We are reacting to that by offering some incredible discounts”. He added. “But as soon as hostilities in Iraq cease, those prices are going to evaporate.”

A spokesman for Thomas Cook
, which earlier this week reported a 10 per cent fall in bookings for summer season said the cost of a 14-night stay in the Indian resort of Calangute in early April had been halved to £289.

One tour operator specialising in Turkish breaks, Jewel in the Crown, cut prices by several hundred pounds after seeing bookings plunge by 90 per cent in the past three weeks.

Other incentives to boost bookings include children going free, flexible deals and no deposit.