A WEARSIDE holiday company has seen its sales jump to a record £500million.
Sunderland-based company Hays Travel says that although the industry is under a lot of pressure, it is increasingly seeing signs of recovery fuelled by poor British weather.
The country’s biggest independent travel agent says its margins are being squeezed, but as Europe’s biggest operator TUI reported, there are more bookings coming in.
Hays may have reported only a slight rise in the value of holidays sold, to £475million in the year to October 31, 2011, from £470million a year earlier, the figure has now topped £500million for the 12 months to the end of March.
There is a 13 per cent rise in forward bookings this year to £8.8million.
Owner John Hays says he is hopeful of further growth this year after the business saw bookings increased by 20 per cent in 2010.
“There is no mistaking that it is a very tough climate out there. Our profits are flat and our margins are being pushed very hard,” he said.
“Package holidays and all-inclusive deals are popular because they can be much better value than booking everything yourself online and you know what you are spending before you go, not coming home to a big, nasty surprise.
“But people still want a holiday and the terrible British summers over the last two years are pushing them to go abroad.
“We are seeing more bookings coming in and there are signs of a recovery in the market, although it has a long way to go before it is like it was a few years ago.”
The businessman believes his 21-year-old company’s reputation as a well-established independent business is one reason why it is beating the market slump.