Isle of Man Tourism is set to launch a travel trade guide later this year to help agents build itineraries to the island. “We are putting together a handbook for coach and group operators,” Isle of Man’s Director of Tourism Rod Nipper told Travel Daily. “It will go out to tour operators and the coach drivers themselves to give itinerary ideas and a how-to guide including where to stop, places to stay and where to eat.” The tourist board also holds several familiarisation trips in the year and has launched a Facebook page to generate interest in the destination. However, the island has already received increased interest this summer following the annual TT event, the staycation trend and more coverage on television. “We still see a big peak in mid-June due to the TT event, which received 30,000 visitors this year,” revealed Nipper. “During May, June and July we had more than 42, 500 telephone enquiries. We went from receiving 250 requests for our guide to 400 and airlines have seen an increase in numbers,” he added. “The airport director has said that traffic is good but still suffering from the volcanic ash situation, so things are down a few percentage points.” In addition, he said that although ferries had not seen a surge in sea travellers, it had increased the number of passengers to the island. “Sea travel figures have been reasonable but people are coming over for short breaks so it has been good for visitors from Liverpool and Heysham,” explained Nipper. However, it is the UK’s 23 entries to the island that has helped boost the staycation trend, as more Brits look to travel from regional airports. “Our research from past campaigns has shown that people look for ease of access and value for money, so we’ve concentrated on this aspect [in our campaigns],” said Nipper. “Most of our visitors were from the north-east of the UK but we are seeing a wide spread now.” In addition, the extended television coverage has attracted a younger audience to the island. “We have always had a strong 45+ market and this continues to be so but more young families are coming too, particularly the pre-teen market,” said Nipper. He added that wildlife programming had been the most successful as the ‘shark basking’ activity on its website had seen the most hits. There has also been interest from heritage groups.