By Humphrey Carter
HOLIDAY habits may well be changing with more people travelling independently than on a package deal with tour operators, but Britain's top summer destinations continue to remain the same. This week, the Association of British Travel Agents published its annual report into Britain's summer holiday habits and the rankings of the country's favourite summer destinations remained the same this year, although their growth in the traditional market was much slower in comparison to more exotic destinations. Nevertheless, Spain was easily the number one destination, although the growth in the number of British visitors has so far slowed to one percent this year. France and Greece were the second and third most popular destinations with the United States fourth.
More people booked a package holiday to Greece than they did to France, but Spain was still the top package trip spot.
Greece and Spain accounted for 45 percent of the package holiday market this summer.
But, despite Spain, France and Greece receiving the most number of British tourists, things are changing, especially in Spain.
According to ABTA research, holidaymakers are now making greater choices when coming to Spain. If they do not book a package, they can pick and choose their flights, charter, scheduled or no-frills, and accommodation.
As a result, more and more Britons are taking advantage of shorter breaks and eight percent of the market is now holidaying in second homes or time-shares. According to Trip-Vision, 45 percent of British visitors to Spain who booked a package holiday, 17 percent booked a package direct with a tour operator and 28 percent booked with a travel agent. However, 55 percent made their own arrangements, 26 percent via a travel agent while 36 percent either booked their accommodation or flight direct.
Next year, to be more competitive, tour operators and airlines with routes to Spain are expected to switch their flights to scheduled services and so more flights will be unbonded. ABTA president Martin Wellings said “there's no doubt that the changes we are seeing in the industry to Spain will broaden out to other destinations. This will have an impact on consumer protection.” Reports from the World Travel Market suggest that the British market to the Balearics will see a revival next year.


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