SPAIN will continue to reign as the UK's number one holiday destination driven by a growing demand from holidaymakers travelling independently rather than on traditional packages.

Speaking at a Barclays Travel Forum last week, Paul Evans, Low Cost Travel Group chief executive, challenged the spin surrounding competing destinations like Turkey and the UK, following last year's so-called “staycation” trend.

He refuted claims UK numbers were up last year saying they were, in fact, down and said Turkey was only gaining share in the traditional charter market.

Official GFK Ascent MI industry figures showed the destination had overtaken the Balearics for market share in May, taking 16% of the market.
Evans said: “We have to look at Spain and Turkey in proportion. You have 22 million people going to Spain, five million going to Turkey. “Of course Turkey is up because you are measuring the package charter market which is a minority of the overall market. “Look at Spain, the majority of people are going on lowcost or scheduled carriers. Spain will always remain the number one market for the UK.” The panel agreed Spain had become more competitive because hoteliers were forced to reduce prices but the weak Euro will probably see prices recover, although there will still be good value.

Evans said: “I think there has been a dilution of margin. Fortunately the online sector and the bed bank sector is growing as people move out of traditional packages.” John McEwan, Advantage Travel Centres chief executive and Abta chairman, said: “Spain is going to remain the number one market in terms of size and it's going to be helped by the Euro.”