Destination: St Bernard

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A st bernard and pup drew people to the Switzerland Travel centre stand

A St Bernard and pup drew people to the Switzerland Travel Centre stand

Whilst there were some high profile speakers on the first day of the Destinations show at London’s Olympia, I think the biggest – in both senses of the word – were the two St Bernard dogs on the Switzerland Travel Centre stand.

Every time I went past the stand, there were people snapping pictures of the dog and pup, petting them or just imagining how on earth you get one to move if it didn’t want to!

It was a busy morning at the show with the floor covered as much by people walking the stands. But was there any business being done? Were they lookers or buyers?

Tunisia had a stand there and they were happy with the number of people dropping by many of who were saying that they would happily return once the Foreign Office reviewed its advice on not travelling there due to security reasons.

Iran has been hotly tipped as a growth destination for this year and with the announcement that British Airways was re-introducing direct flights from London to Teheran in late Spring, tour operators were saying that there was a lot of interest in travelling there. One company, Pettitts, specialising in bespoke itineraries saw a lot of interest and that was just in the morning. They were putting together tours of between six and fourteen days covering heritage sites such as Shiraz, Persepolis, Isfahan and Teheran and finding takers for them. Another company, Travel the Unknown was concentrating on promoting holidays in Iran.

the Thaiiland stand was one of the biggest along with Trailfinders and Kuoni

the Thaiiland stand was one of the biggest along with Trailfinders and Kuoni

No operator or destination mentioned any impact of the Zika virus on interest in their destinations yet but it is hard to estimate what effect the acres of media newsprint might have on holiday bookings. That could be the unforeseen spoke in the wheels for the industry this year.

In chatting to people a lot were looking at long haul destinations and considering trips of up to a couple of months. One tour operator told me he had already heard from a group that was looking at a three month trip along the Silk Route. But the first day never gives a good view of what people are considering since it is made of those who can take a working day off. Many are retirees with more time on their hands so that could be why longer holidays seem to be popular.

There are still three days to go with speakers like Brian Blessed, Kate Adie and Huw Cordey, dance and music exhibitions and the odd morsel of food to taste as well.Plus 25 different offers and competitions with prizes ranging from a cruise to the Galapagos to holiday to Switzerland. (no St Bernard included.)

Will it be enough to get people to book? Perhaps a St Bernard with every booking might do the trick!

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