08 Apr

Easter exodus

ABTA – The Travel Association estimates that approximately two million Brits will head overseas over the Easter bank holiday.

This year, the domestic break has been touted as the trendsetter for this spring, and indeed ABTA UK tour operators are reporting an excellent season so far with some operators reporting double digit percentage growth on last Easter, and with some parks and lodges selling out for the Easter weekend.

But over the last month, ABTA Members selling overseas holidays have also seen a big upsurge in bookings for both Easter and summer holidays and travel industry research company GfK Ascent-MI has reported that the Easter effect will mean that April this year will see passenger numbers increase by +20% compared to April in 2008.

Top spots for Easter are Spain, the Canary Islands, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, while Cuba has become popular as holidaymakers become keen in experiencing the island before the US travel ban is lifted. Florida is also this year’s top long haul family destination.

Traditionally spring is the time for city breaks, and this year many travellers have decided that the less well-known Eastern European cities, outside of the eurozone, such as Budapest, Prague and Belgrade are worth exploring. Restaurants and bars in these cities have also recently, lowered their prices.

“We knew consumers would have a tendency to book late this year with many people worried about their financial situation, and not wanting to commit too far out,” said Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, “but as holiday time looms, people are indeed booking. It appears consumer confidence is rising, and people feel they have enough money in their pocket or just simply have had enough of worrying and have made the decision to go on holiday.”

This week is Holy Week and as a result, religious festivals will occur across the Christian world and cities such as Rome will be very popular. Obviously there has been concern with the earthquake in the medieval city of L’Aquila this week, but holiday programmes to Rome are operating as normal. Visitors to Italy need to note that L’Aquila itself is closed, and further details can be found on www.fco.gov.uk.

Airports are reporting good numbers, nearly 300,000 will leave from Heathrow, 270,000 from Gatwick, approximately 200,000 from Stansted and 60,000 from Luton.  A further 14,000 will depart from Southampton.

From Scotland over 200,000 will be leaving via the airports with 60,000  leaving from Glasgow, 70,000 from Edinburgh and 25,000 from Aberdeen.

From the north and the Midlands, 100,000 will leave from Manchester, 12,500 passengers from Leeds Bradford and approximately 200,000 from Birmingham.

Other regional airports and ferry terminals will also be extremely busy over the weekend and Eurostar is reporting good passenger numbers with 80,000 leaving the country this way.