ABTA - The Travel Association estimates that almost 4 million Britons will be heading overseas this Christmas and New Year period [21 December – 3 January], with the peak travel days predicted to be 21 and 22 December.
Many are looking for a traditional white Christmas experience and resorts across Europe are benefiting from bumper snow levels. Ski resorts in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy have all sold well with the week around the New Year traditionally the busiest of the season. Many lucky children are having the ultimate early Christmas present, a trip to Lapland to see Father Christmas and the Northern Lights, which are predicted to be especially active this winter due to increased solar activity.
For many, however, sun is the priority, and travel companies are reporting they will be heading to destinations such as the Canary Islands, Tunisia, Cuba and Mexico. Other lucky travellers will be flying south to Australia, South Africa and New Zealand for Christmas barbies on the beach.
Others will also be enjoying the beautiful, winter scenes in the UK staying in country hotels and cottages.
Popular for New Year’s Eve breaks are the cities of Paris, Rejkyavik, Rome, Dublin and New York.
Millions of people will be leaving the country through the major airports, which include Heathrow where 1.7 million* are estimated to be leaving, Stansted 300,000, Gatwick 700,000 and Luton 125,000. In addition 320,000 will leave from Manchester, 116,000 from Birmingham, 75,000 from Glasgow. In addition over the Xmas weekend 21-24 December, 52,000 will be departing from Edinburgh airport and 56,000 from Bristol airport.
Many hundreds of thousands will also travel across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel with 160,000 heading off on the Eurostar with Paris being the favourite destination.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “Christmas and New Year is traditionally the busiest time of year for the travel industry with millions of people heading off overseas for some winter sunshine or guaranteed snow. This year is no exception and the ferries, railways and airports will be very busy over the festive season. With a White Christmas looking unlikely in the UK, thousands are heading off to the alpine resorts of Europe, where there has been some of the best snow fall for years, to experience the magic of a traditional Christmas.”
*Estimates based on 2011 data.
ABTA spokespeople are available for interviews.