Record numbers leave UK for Xmas

The Association of British Travel Agents estimates that a record 2.3 million people will be leaving the UK over the Christmas and the New Year period for winter sun or snow.

This festive season the Arab world is an unlikely beneficiary of Brits looking to get away from the traditions of families, turkey and tinsel, with Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Dubai competing with the usual favourite destinations such as the Canary Islands, Florida and the Caribbean. Southern Spain has also sold very well particularly with travel from regional airports.

In contrast, the promise of a winter wonderland among the mountains is the ultimate holiday experience for some and this years early snow in the Alps will give seasonal skiers and snowboarders a real treat.

Favourite ski destinations this year continue to be in France, Austria, and Italy. But this year skiers will also be heading off to the US en masse in a bid to take advantage of the weak dollar. This year we have also seen a continued growth to Bulgarian ski resorts and Andorra for families and those on a budget.

As usual, many have also made plans abroad for New Year, and Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Dublin and New York are at the top of the list.

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It is likely that Friday 23 December will be the peak travel day  as people make a quick getaway from work, but Christmas Eve will also prove to be very busy.

BAA estimate that 1.5 million will be leaving the UK through their seven airports, which include Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton and the main Scottish airports, while 50,000 will travel from Luton, 200,000 from Manchester and approximately 125,000 from Birmingham. Nottingham East Midlands report a large increase in traffic on last year with at least 70,000 passengers leaving the country.

In addition, 200,000 are expected to travel under or over the English Channel to France, the Netherlands and Spain with over 100,000 travelling on Eurostar who have laid on 6 extra trains to cope with demand.

Martin Wellings, ABTAs president said: Christmas at home can be a magical time of year but record numbers of us now recognise that combining it with a holiday provides the ultimate icing on the cake..
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