The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) estimates that a record two million
holidaymakers will leave the country this weekend, in what is due to be the
busiest weekend for travel this year.From Friday - the busiest day - all schools, universities and most
colleges - except for summer schools - will have finished their academic
year and Parliament will have adjourned. The silly season officially begins!
Despite reports that we have lost our love for the Iberian peninsular -
Spain and its islands are still the favourite choice for summer holidays
with the Balearics the out and out number one destination. Mainland Spain
and the Canaries follow close behind. Despite dramatic growth in the non-EU
destinations of Bulgaria, Croatia and Turkey, 75% of us holiday in Europe
with 70% of those still favouring the tried and tested charms of Spain,
France and Greece.
The long haul market has done well this summer and the weak dollar has
seen a return to growth for the US, which is currently ahead of last year by
16%. The Caribbean has also performed strongly with the Dominican Republic
and Mexico becoming popular mainstream destinations, while Cuba will see a
27% growth in the number of UK tourists for this season. Further afield the
more adventurous are heading to Asia in greater numbers than ever before.
Most of us will be leaving the country by air. Approximately 950,000 will
leave from BAA airports with Heathrow the busiest hub seeing roughly half a
million departures, Gatwick will have approximately 300,000 departures and
175,000 will leave from Stanstead. Luton will add 50,000 to those flying out
of the South East, while 80,000 leave Birmingham
International Airport. 170,000 will be leaving from Manchester and 35,000
will leave from East Midlands Airport.
An approximate 100,000 more passengers will leave Britain’s increasingly
popular regional airports such as Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, and Leeds
But not everyone will fly away. Rail and ferry are still proving to be
popular options for the great annual exodus. Roughly 100,000 will travel out
by Eurostar and Eurotunnel while potentially 600,000 will journey to France,
Spain and the Benelux countries by ferry.
This year has been a very late booking market for ABTA members, but the
awful British summer weather, which has compared unfavourably to hot
temperatures in mainland Europe, has boosted sales in July.
These are the top ten package holiday and accommodation only destinations
(1.Balearics 2. Mainland Spain 3. the Canaries)
(1. Dominican Republic 2. Mexico 3. Cuba)
John Harding, ABTA’s President said: “This is the busiest times of year for
the industry, and I’m delighted to see that bookings have really picked up -
but there are still some great late deals if you want to escape the
uncertainty of the British weather.”