By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE UK holiday industry has entered into its most important and active period of the year and come the end of this month, the industry will know which are going to be the popular summer destinations this year.

However, according to reports by many of the market leaders and main tour operators in the UK, Turkey and the Balearics are topping the list as the most popular post-Christmas holiday requests for this summer.

According to Thomas Cook, the surge in interest in summer holidays has no doubt been fueled by the continuing poor weather in the UK but holiday makers are also taking advantage of the post-Christmas early booking deals with the tour operator reporting Turkey, the Balearics and the Spanish mainland attracting massive interest.

What is more, British consumers are planning to take more holidays in 2011 than they did last year despite the fragile economy and looming public sector job cuts and spend more.

According to a survey of 2'000 people, carried out by comparison website travelsupermarket.com, only 8% of UK consumers are not planning to take a summer holiday in 2011 compared to 16% in 2010.

The average number of holidays planned by Britons for next year has also risen to 2 from 1.7 in 2010 with all-inclusive packages likely to be the big winner with 18% wanting to take this type of holiday in 2011 compared to 12% in 2010.

Those intending to go on three or more holidays in the next 12 months has risen from 21% to 32%. There are also signs that the phenomenon of the “staycation” may be waning with only 13% of consumers planning a UK holiday next year compared to 16% this year.

Travelsupermarket's flights channel manager Bob Atkinson said: “Despite the tough economic climate and rising household costs, most Britons are unwilling to give up their annual holiday, and this comes as no surprise as we value our annual break way above many other items of expenditure. “We are becoming much savvier when it comes to booking, using the internet to trawl for deals and offers. Value for money is what drives our choice in destination and holiday type.” Atkinson added that Spain was likely to do well in 2011 due to a weaker euro and lower hotel prices. “The British stalwart destination - Spain - is likely to give you the best value in 2011,” he said. “The euro is weak and accommodation owners are all fighting for business. “Other good value hotspots include Turkey, Morocco and the US. The UK is set to be less popular in 201i than 2010. This could be to do with both increases in VAT on domestic holidays along with continued perception of poor weather at UK resorts.” And, the majority of Britons say they will spend the same or more on holidays in 2011 than they did last year, according to a survey carried out for all-inclusive operator Club Med.

Some 59% of UK consumers will be maintaining or increasing their expenditure on holidays this year, while 45% say that holidays are their “most important luxury”.

The online survey conducted by pollster YouGov on behalf of Club Med UK, asked for the views of more than 2'000 people across the country.
The survey reveals that 76% of respondents view their summer holiday as fairly “important or very important” while 22% take up early booking offers and 19% go for off-peak discounts.

As forecast by a number of travel chiefs at the end of last summer, Turkey has got greedy and pushed its prices up by an average of 94 pounds, according to The Co-operative Travel group and that angered the Turkish Minister for Tourism who hit back on New Year's Day denying the claims.

However, Turkey did put its prices up last year and has apparently done so again this year making Spain and the Balearics are more attractive destination.

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