ABTA – The Travel Association estimates 1.7 million British holidaymakers are set to head overseas for the Easter weekend of 29 March - 1 April. Spain is the UK’s favourite foreign holiday destination over the weekend, with the Canary and Balearic Islands the most popular areas. Egypt and Tunisia have also sold very well as people look to escape the freezing weather in the UK.
With the UK suffering one of the coldest Easters on record, ABTA Members are reporting substantial year on year increases in last minute bookings to sunshine destinations.
Daytime temperatures this weekend are set to reach 22 degrees in the Canary Islands, 18 degrees in Mallorca, 21 degrees in Tunisia, 29 degrees in Egypt, 19 degrees in Turkey and 25 degrees in Mexico, the most popular long haul destination.
While many may be looking to escape the snow, skiers are delighting in one of the best European snowfalls in years. Many resorts have extended their seasons and tens of thousands will be heading off to the slopes, with resorts in France and Austria being the most popular.
Foreign city breaks are popular at this time of the year with the weather being comfortable and the streets less crowded. Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York are the top five choices.
Bookings for UK breaks are healthy with many customers having booked months in advance and city breaks not being so dependent on the weather, but last minute bookings for camping holidays will have been adversely affected by the snow.
Airports are reporting good numbers: 600,000 will leave from Heathrow [28 March -2 April], 214,000 from Gatwick, 110,000 from Stansted and 55,000 from Luton.
From the North and the Midlands, 110,000 will leave from Manchester and 45,000 from Birmingham. Bristol airport is expecting 35,000 to leave over the Easter weekend and over 100,000 will be leaving via the Scottish airports.
Other regional airports, ferry terminals and the channel tunnel will also be extremely busy over the weekend. Eurostar is reporting 60,000 will be departing the UK with Friday being the busiest day.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter many Brits are desperate for some sunshine. We’ve seen a surge in last minute bookings to warm destinations and ski lovers are also in for a treat with some of the best snow conditions seen for years. Bookings for city breaks have been strong for domestic holidaymakers. We expect it to be a particularly busy Easter for travel and advise travellers to allow plenty of time for their journeys.”