Holiday war hots up with deals for '97

Big savings are on offer even before this year's holiday is taken, reports Glenda Cooper

The earliest ever launch of next year's summer holidays took place yesterday as leading travel companies brought out their brochures for1997.

It used to be that you had hardly returned from holiday before next year's breaks were advertised. But this year tour operators have gone one better by revealing them before most people have gone away.

As Airtours and First Choice unveiled their summer 1997 brochures yesterday, two high street travel agents, Going Places and Lunn Poly, offered 13 per cent off next year's prices.

Holiday companies Sunworld and Inspirations also joined in, with Inspiration offering prices 3 per cent lower across the board. However Thomson, currently the UK's biggest holiday company, stood aloof from the fray; it is expected to wait until 1 August. First Choice said people booking before 3 August could get savings of up to pounds 150 per couple, with savings of up to pounds 240 per couple on departures to Majorca from Glasgow.

Prices start at pounds 119 per person and pounds 349 for a family of four staying for a week in apartments in Majorca in April 1997.

"We would have preferred not to launch as early as this, but there are some great bargains," said Kevin Ivie, First Choice group marketing director.

Airtours claimed that couples will make an average saving of pounds 14 compared with last year and has slashed pounds 13m off prices altogether. The company says its main reason is to "steal a march on its competitors", and is offering seven nights in the Costa Brava for pounds 239, or pounds 249 for seven nights in Egypt. Yesterday Peter Rothwell, group managing director, said it was selling a thousand holidays an hour.

Usually the big companies hold off from launching their new brochures until September. The last time they launched early was in August 1994, and that was acknowledged to have been a failure, a spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said yesterday. "The August launch in 1994 was not very successful because most people had gone away at that point," she said. .

"For travel agents there is going to be a problem as they are still selling holidays for summer '96. The agents are meant to have a reasonable knowledge of the products on offer, so if they are going to be selling summer '96, winter '96 and summer '97 it's going to be an awful lot of work," she added. "People have been suggesting, does it mean there are problems in the industry? I don't think so. I think it shows what competition there is among the biggest companies."

The companies are trying to target families, who tend to book early. Airtours said yesterday that the uncertain economic climate has split would-be holiday-makers into "haves" and "may haves"

The haves, the primary target of the current price war, enjoy a secure income flow and want to guarantee their first choice of holiday destination and accommodation. More than half have time restrictions (such as school holidays), are looking for free child places or want long-haul breaks which need advanced planning. In comparison, the may haves book later and compromise on choice.

This year 1.7 million people booked their summer holiday before Christmas and almost half of these booked as soon as the brochures came out. Late bookers frequently faced problems with their first choice of holiday - one in seven people this year were unable to book their first choice.

Overseas tourists are continuing to flock to Britain in record numbers. Foreign visitors in the first four months of 1996 totalled 6.8 million - 7 per cent up on January to April 1995, according to the Office of National Statistics. They spent pounds 2.9 billion - 2 per cent more than in the same period last year.

What's in the brochures

What Airtours is offering

pounds 99 per person for seven nights self-catering on the Costa Brava; pounds 239 for all-inclusive holidays. Thousands of free child places, and reduced-price children's holidays from pounds 9; Florida from pounds 369; seven nights in Egypt for pounds 249 per person; all- inclusive 14-night holidays in the Dominican Republic, pounds 619 (weddings in the Republic, pounds 99 extra); Two weeks in Florida, pounds 369 (children, pounds 199)

What First Choice is offering

pounds 119 for a week in Majorca (pounds 349 for a family of four); all-inclusive holiday to Majorca from pounds 329 for seven nights; pounds 549 for two weeks in Mexico; savings of up to pounds 240 per couple on departures to Majorca from Glasgow; free grandparent places for the Balearics, Canaries, mainland Spain, The Algarve, Malta and Greece.

One-parent families offer: some child prices for single parents

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk