Travel agents in Hong Kong say they are enjoying a boom in summer holiday bookings as people leave the economic gloom behind to jet off with their families to Europe and North America. One agency, Charming Holidays, said yesterday its tours to the US and Europe this month were 'almost full' despite almost an additional 40 per cent charge for the summer peak season. The agency charges $8,000 for a round-trip package to Vancouver, Canada, including two nights in a three or four-star hotel, or $12,000 for five nights in San Francisco or Los Angeles for the summer - which is about $3,000 more expensive than at other times of the year. Europe remained popular with Hong Kong residents for summer holidays, a sales representative with the company said. 'It may be that people who avoided overseas travel after the September 11 attacks, especially to North America or Europe, have rearranged their trips after deciding those countries are once again safe to visit,' the representative said. However, he said services to the US could not keep up with demand due to a reduction in flights by airlines since the terrorist attacks. Wing On Travel Service general manager Alex Lee Chung-ting said the number of visitors to North America dropped by 50 per cent in the first three months after September 11. 'But during summer, some parents need to visit their children who are studying in the US or Canada,' Mr Lee said. 'Although the business of our tours to North America is still 20 per cent behind last summer, it has definitely started to pick up.' Tours to Europe last month were up by 20 per cent compared with the same time last year, he said, adding some clients who had opted not to visit North America had chosen Europe as an alternative this summer. He expected even more visitors to Europe when school holidays started this month. 'Most people enjoy the warm weather and the long daylight hours in Europe,' Mr Lee said. The executive director of the Travel Industry Council, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, said fear of terrorist attacks had eased among travellers in recent months. He expected the sector to enjoy a 10 per cent growth from last summer, partly because many schools and agencies had arranged study tours to attract parents and children to places such as the US, Canada and Europe. Mr Tung said people preferred countries in the northern hemisphere to Australia and New Zealand, which were now going through their winter. However, mainland cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou were too hot for Hong Kong people in the summer, he said.