TRADITIONAL holiday destinations such as Bali, Fiji and Thailand are back in favour, with bookings returning to pre-COVID levels, according to travel industry experts.
Israel remains popular all-year round and enjoying an increased choice of flights from Australia.
Danny Englman, joint managing director of FBI Travel of Caulfield North, said the cost of travel to many overseas destinations has skyrocketed.
“We are in a situation where there is not enough supply and an enormous amount of demand,” he told The AJN.
“Everyone is familiar with the high cost of airfares, but that also applies to accommodation. Luxury hotels in popular cities around the world have come back with a vengeance and are fully booked.
“In the past, mid-market was mass market and upmarket was the cream, but this has been turned on its head.
“Travellers need to be aware of the situation and the best recommendation is to book early – if you haven’t booked yet for the European summer, it’s starting to get late!”
Englman said demand for travel to Israel remains high, but there is a bigger choice of airlines.
“Emirates and Etihad fly to a Jewish-friendly Gulf, which is a great stopover option with the availability of kosher food,” he said.
“El Al flies from Bangkok and Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong has just resumed, so there are more options to choose from to get to Israel, although availability of seats is still an issue.”
Other destinations that are proving popular with increased 2023 bookings include Vietnam and Hawaii.
“The cruise market has been getting a lot of bad publicity, but many cruises are full and people are eager to book them,” Englman said.
“One of the big changes is that the elderly are not travelling as much as they used to before COVID – those who were high 70s and older and were very active travellers in 2019 have pulled back and have been replaced by younger markets.
“The cruise lines have seen their demographics change to a younger clientele, and many people are looking to expedition travel to places such as Antarctica and the North Pole and the Galapagos Islands.”
Adam Schwab, co-founder and CEO of Luxury Escapes, said: “We are seeing a lot of demand for holidays in Fiji, Bali and Thailand, with bookings much higher than pre-COVID levels and offering standout value.
“The cost of hotels in Europe has eased and London, which was super-expensive until recently, has come down.”
Schwab said holidays in Hawaii are still expensive although good value package deals are available.
“The cost of flights is having an impact on destinations such as the US, Canada and South America, where flying is incredibly expensive,” he said.
“Holidaymakers looking for a great island experience should consider the Maldives and Fiji.”
Schwab said many holidaymakers plan their trips about six months in advance to take advantage of special deals.
“Older travellers who were nervous to book during COVID and are a little more cautious are now looking to travel in the next six months.”
Anthony Goldman, joint managing director of the Goldman Group which runs Travelcall in Melbourne, said bookings for this year’s European summer were already high.
“Many people are looking at their bucket lists and heading to places such as Antarctica and African safaris – before COVID the people who said they would go on these trips one day are now saying, ‘When will we do it?’”
Goldman said Bali, Thailand and Hawaii remain popular with Australian travellers.
“Israel is popular all year round and now Australians are having stopovers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which they haven’t been able to do before.”
Goldman said that a current trend was “skip-gen” travel where grandparents are taking their grandchildren on trips to make up for time that they missed out on during COVID lockdowns.
“Grandparents want to take their grandkids away to Europe – without their parents – because they didn’t see the grandchildren for a couple of years.”
Goldman said more travellers were using travel agents to book their trips to avoid stress if their travel plans changed due to COVID or cancellations.
“When the borders opened and people started travelling, one in four enquiries were from new clients who had never used a travel adviser before,” he said.
“We have fees for service, but it is a small percentage of what will be spent on an overseas trip.”