Click to banish winter
SUN SEARCHERS: Winter warmth bookings are soaring as Britons go online looking to escape the seasonal chill. Jeremy Gates reports.
GRIM winter could work wonders for next year’s holiday bookings because so many Britons want a break from the daily grind, according to tour operators and travel agents.
Bookings for holidays to escape the predicted cold snap are already up 55 per cent year-on-year, says travel website lowcostholidays.com.
It says searches for winter sun holidays are up 108 per cent with the Canary Islands, Malta and Portugal’s Algarve coast among the top destinations.
Other destinations in popular demand include Egypt, Madeira, Florida, Mexico and Barbados.
Europe city breaks are going at knockdown prices too, thanks to low hotel prices and budget airline flights.
Lowcostholidays currently offers two nights’ B&B in Amsterdam from £95, with return flights ex-Southend on January 8, and two nights’ B&B in Rome from £86, with return flights ex-Stansted on January 10.
The website says holidaymakers increasingly use mobile devices and iPads to book holidays, with iPads driving a huge volume of visits – up 1,127 per cent year-on-year.
Matt Hall, deputy MD at lowcostholidays.com, says: “With more cold weather possibly on the way, customers are rushing online to grab late sunshine escapes.”
City breaks are also up 85 per cent, with warmer temperatures making Marrakech a hugely popular choice.
December deals from lowcostholidays. com include seven nights’ self-catering in a Malta hotel from £99, and seven nights at a four-star Florida hotel from £589, both including flights.
Operators and travel agents also sound bullish about summer 2013 – but here a different dynamic may be at work.
Peter Long, chief executive at Tui Travel (Thomson) confirms a resurgence in demand for all-inclusive packages, because families want to know exactly how much they will spend on food, drink and accommodation when they book.
Many customers are also booking because they have grim memories of poor summer weather at home in 2012.
John McEwan, chief executive of the Advantage chain of travel agents, says bookings are up in excess of 10 per cent year-on-year, while Alistair Rowland at Midcounties Co-operative Travel claims to be 10 per cent up on summer bookings and 5 per cent up for winter sales.
MacEwan says: “Things are improving a bit with the economy, the number of people unemployed is declining and together with low inflation, it’s all having an impact in encouraging people to book.”
Travel Counsellors, a chain of homebased travel experts, claims a six per cent jump in summer bookings, and a surge of 11 per cent in winter bookings.
Agents say that a shortage of short-haul holiday capacity in 2012 meant many people didn’t get the destination or accommodation they wanted, particularly if they booked late when Britain’s summer fell to pieces.
Meanwhile, Travelzoo claims that despite the economic gloom, many consumers plan to spend more on travel in 2013. Its survey found the number of consumers budgeting £900 or more per person on holidays is up by 10 per cent year-on-year.
In a clear sign that the travel industry is on
It is excellent news to see consumers upping their travel budgets for 2013
the mend, the number of people budgeting £900-£1,499 per person on their next winter trip has increased against last year, and stands at 16 per cent.
The research also revealed that almost three quarters of consumers plan to take three or more holidays in 2013 and identified a growing trend for consumers to be deal-driven rather than basing holidays around peak travel periods.
While summer remains a popular time to travel, 41 per cent of consumers also say they are open to holidaying at different times of the year. With travel firms keen to get early bookings, more than a third of respondents say they will book in advance for a brilliant deal.
Short-haul packages continue to be the most popular type of leisure trip (20 per cent), with city breaks and UK hotel stays following closely behind at 19 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.
The most popular overseas destinations are Spain, France and Italy.
Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director at Travelzoo, says: “It is excellent news for the travel industry to see consumers upping their holiday budgets for 2013, suggesting they are either feeling more positive about the economic climate or more determined to allocate spending on holidays than ever.”
For more information call 0800 111 6271 or visit www. lowcostholidays.com
FAVOURITE: Valletta, Malta. The sunny island is among the top website searches by those looking to book winter holidays.