HOLIDAYMAKERS have been advised by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) to book their summer holidays early after figures show a 6% year-on-year increase in bookings for overseas summer holidays, with substantial increases for Spain (27%) and Portugal (32%), and with Cyprus (14%) and Malta (15%) also selling well.
Bookings to Greece are at similar levels to 2015, as are those to the US. Similar booking patterns are being reported by travel trade associations in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, which will result in increased demand and competition for accommodation.
The growth in popularity of the Western Mediterranean is being driven partly by a drop in business to traditionally popular destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt, following terrorist murders and changes to Foreign Office travel advice.
More customers also appear to be looking for the wider choice and good value on offer to early bookers. Mediterranean Eurozone countries have responded to local economic problems by lowering prices in bars and restaurants and the pound is still at a relatively high level, meaning that these destinations offer good value for money.
Another factor behind this growth is the continuing re-adjustment in the overseas holiday market following the significant falls seen in 2008 and 2009 after the financial crisis and credit crunch, when overall UK passenger numbers fell by 15%. In 2015, UK airlines reported that passenger numbers had returned to pre-credit crunch levels.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said: ‘The significant increase in summer holiday bookings to Western Mediterranean destinations is also being mirrored in other Northern European markets, so it makes it more important than ever that customers book early to obtain the best value and ensure they get the holiday of their choice.’
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