Click to ban­ish win­ter

SUN SEARCHERS: Win­ter warmth book­ings are soar­ing as Bri­tons go on­line look­ing to es­cape the sea­sonal chill. Jeremy Gates re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Travel -

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

PIC­TURE: CLIVE VELLA/PA.

FAVOURITE: Val­letta, Malta. The sunny is­land is among the top web­site searches by those look­ing to book win­ter hol­i­days.

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