UK bookings to ‘safe destinations’ boom in wake of terror attacks

After a week that saw UK flights to Sharm el-Sheikh postponed until May, and tour operator Thomson cancel all 2016 summer holidays to Tunisia, insight gathered from various travel companies confirms people are rushing to book holidays to destinations deemed ‘safe’ places to travel to.

According to a new report from Travelzoo, UK travel companies are expecting holidays to Spain to sell out within weeks, while Greece could be fully booked by March. Some agents are reporting bookings to Turkey are down by over 50% this year.

With the current suspension of flights to Sharm, traditionally a popular winter sun destination for UK travellers, another issue has emerged for the airlines, according to Stephen Dunk, Travelzoo’s European operations director.

“With airlines unable to fly to Sharm or Tunisia, they are re-routing to destinations such as the Canaries. As a result we are seeing return flights priced from £69 return – the lowest we have seen in years. This sounds like great news, however the issue is there simply aren’t enough hotel rooms in the Canaries, so we are hearing reports of half-empty planes flying in and out of the destination – a remarkable and unprecedented situation has emerged for the travel industry.”

The impact of terrorism over the last six months means a change, certainly in the short-term, to British holidaying habits.

Results of Travelzoo’s annual Travel Trends report found that two-thirds (66%) of travellers would be actively avoiding countries that have experienced terrorist attacks in the past 12 months. This follows an announcement from First Crystal Cruises last week that it would be re-routing its ships away from Istanbul and the beach resort of Kusadasi, citing “ongoing safety concerns” for the change.

The report also revealed the USA as the most desired destination for British holidaymakers in 2016, followed by Italy, the UK, Spain and France. Canada, Australia and the Caribbean also made the top 10, suggesting people are now prepared to travel further and spend a bit more to feel they’re holidaying in a safe destination.

Dunk commented: “Despite the early rush for Spain and Greece, 2016 will still turn out to be the year of the US and long haul. We’ve seen some great deals for the US recently, and have noticed record levels of interest in holidays to both the East and West Coasts. Long haul destinations are rising in popularity – four made their way into the top 10 for 2016, and airlines are opening up new travel routes to places such as Lima, Peru, which UK travellers can’t wait to take advantage of.”

Other key findings from the Travel Trends report show:

  • Four-fifths of UK travellers are concerned by the unrest/disasters of the past 12-18 months and, as a result of this, will change their travel plans;
  • UK travellers are the most likely to choose a destination based on its climate, followed by the price;
  • Almost one third (30%) of UK travellers are now rating the general safety and security of a destination as the most important factor when deciding on where to go on holiday.
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