ABTA – The Travel Association estimates that more than 4.5 million passengers are heading abroad over the Christmas and New Year period [18 December – 2 January], with the peak travel day predicted to be 23 December, and Christmas Day expected to be the quietest day for travel. ABTA is advising customers to leave extra time to get to the airports as the roads will be extremely busy, and to check in advance for any travel restrictions if using public transport.
Holidaymakers are either heading off for some much-needed winter sun or to colder climes to enjoy the snow. Winter sun lovers are heading short haul to Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and long haul to Cape Verde, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Goa, with one major travel company reporting a 50% increase in bookings to the Indian coastal state. ABTA Members are also reporting that many destinations are close to being fully booked.
Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy are the most popular destinations for those looking for a traditional experience in a snowy destination; Iceland has also proved very popular this year.
Popular New Year’s Eve breaks include the cities of Dublin, Barcelona, New York and Amsterdam, and domestically Edinburgh and London lead the way.
Bad weather has already disrupted travel plans for many people, and holidaymakers are advised to keep a close eye on news reports and their travel providers’ websites for updates.
Millions of people are leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting increases in passenger numbers on 2015. 638,000 are departing from Stansted, 380,000 from Luton, in addition around 130,000 are leaving from Bristol, 215,000 from Birmingham and 35,000 from Cardiff. Gatwick expects a 10% increase on the 900,000 passengers that departed over the same period in 2015. Heathrow is also anticipated to be very busy with increased passenger numbers in line with other airports.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers are leaving the UK from Scottish airports, with 238,000 travelling through Edinburgh alone, as well as large numbers leaving from other regional airports.
A significant number of people are also travelling across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with 180,000 heading off on the Eurostar.
Many are taking the opportunity to take a break in the UK, staying in a country cottage or a seaside resort, and city breaks in London and York have also sold well.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “Christmas and New Year are always a very busy time for the travel industry, with millions of people heading off overseas either to visit friends and family or take a well-earned holiday. At certain times, the roads and public transport will be very busy, so we are advising travellers to check in advance and leave extra time to get to the airport if necessary. The weather has also already caused disruption this year and more unsettled weather is heading our way in the lead-up to Christmas so people should keep an eye on the news and make sure they know their rights if their flight is delayed or cancelled.”