The sun goes down

Costa Brava landscape near Tossa. Catalonia, Spain
Costa Brava landscape near Tossa. Catalonia, Spain
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Throw off the Budget blues and book yourself a bargain holiday on the Spanish Costas or the Greek islands, where hotels are desperate to welcome you.

That’s the advice from tour operators and travel websites who say thousands of short-haul summer packages are selling for up to 10% less than last year, as families across Europe hesitate to book. One report claims 1,000 hotels in Greece could close or be sold in the next few weeks.

Bob Atkinson at travelsupermarket.com says: “Most European hotspots are having a really tough time. It isn’t just Brits staying at home; it’s the same in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland.

“People are holding back, although the Budget might have persuaded some British people they can now afford to go.

“Although plenty of seven-night holidays are selling for less than £100 online, they are very much off-peak. But right now, you can find one week self-catering breaks alongside the Med this summer for less than £200 in Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, the Canaries, the Spanish Costas and Greece.”

Noel Josephides at Greece specialist Sunvil Holidays adds: “April and May are not selling well, although you really should question what you actually get when a package costs under £100.

“There is a gross over-supply of accommodation and aircraft seats and the whole situation is made even worse by the soaring cost of fuel. An enormous amount of accommodation was built in the boom, but the boom is over. ”

At Jewel In The Crown Holidays, managing director Platon Loizou says: “Operators are braced for a difficult summer; bookings for Greece and Turkey are substantially down, TV adverts are telling people to stay at home and more than 100,000 people have volunteered to be helpers at the Olympics.

“In May and June, we are 80 per cent sold, but are selling flight-only trips to Turkey up to the middle of July for £220, a profit of barely £10 on what we paid. All-inclusives are going for less than £300 outside school holidays, but don’t be too fussy about quality if you go under that figure.”

Matt Hall, deputy managing director at lowcostholidays.com, says: “Some traditional Spanish destinations are up to 10 per cent cheaper this year, sparking a 370 per cent year-on-year increase in searches for holidays to Spain.”

With affordability a key driver in boosting bookings, Spain offers great value: some prices are 40 peer cent lower than five years ago.