A British love affair has been rekindled in 2013, with travellers switching back to ‘safe’ Spain, writes Jeremy Gates.
It may be October, but it seems the summer holiday season is far from over, with 1.15 million Britons predicted to take a break abroad in the next eight weeks.
Not only will they be lured by the promise of late sunshine, they will also enjoy lower off-peak prices, fewer crowds, and an added spending power as the pound hits a nine-month high against the euro.
Spain, in particular, looks set to be the prime destination, following the trend of the summer months, where the Costas, Balearic Islands and Canaries all saw a massive return of British holidaymakers in 2013. Indeed, official figures from Spain’s tourist board showed a 6.6 per cent leap in the number of British visitors in August.
So what’s behind our renewed love of Spain? Of course, a relatively short flight time, almost guaranteed sunshine and family-friendly resorts are big draws. But in a year of major international political upheavals and fears of another financial crunch, the idea of a “safe Spain” has also played its part in 2013.
David Skillicorn, general manager at Prestige Holidays, explains: “So many travellers have booked at the last minute in 2013 – after reports of political troubles in Egypt, financial chaos in Cyprus, and riots in Istanbul, which put people off Turkey. This travel market is bit like 2001 after the New York terror attacks, which stopped transatlantic travel for a while and the Balearic Islands went through the roof.”
The return to Spain is confirmed by online operator lowcostholidays.com, which names Majorca as its number one holiday destination this summer. Ibiza was also in demand, while away from Spain, the Algarve, Malta and Turkey were popular choices. Long-haul, Mexico, Dubai and the Dominican Republic all showed the biggest year-on-year increases.
Tim Buckman, managing director of lowcostholidays.com, says: “Majorca continues to be our top destination, but many re-discovered Turkey this summer too, with its low-cost flights, great value hotels and plenty for kids to do. ”
The other “hit” with Britons this year was Tunisia. With nearly 290,000 British arrivals in the first eight months of the year, this is more than 29 per cent up on the same period of 2012. The rise is boosted by new weekly flights into Enfidha by Thomson and First Choice from Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Norwich and Exeter.
Information: www.lowcostholidays.com (0800 111 6271 and www.lowcostholidays.co.uk; Tunisian National Tourist Office (www.cometotunisia.co.uk); Prestige Holidays (01425 480400 and www.prestigeholidays.co.uk).