Palma.—Initially, most resorts were not going to open until Easter, which this year is at the end of April, however hotel and restaurant associations have revealed that the key resorts such as the Playa de Muro, the Port of Soller, Cala Millor, Alcudia, Can Picafort, Cala d’Or, Playa de Palma, Cala Rajada and parts of Calvia are going to open gradually between six to eight weeks earlier than planned from the middle of February.

Not only are the hoteliers pleased with the early increase in demand, so too are the service and complimentary sectors which are going to be opening earlier along with the hotels.

And yesterday, the Association of British Travel Agents confirmed that in the UK, there has been an early rush for holidays.

ABTA Members have been reporting strong early bookings for summer 2014 with some companies reporting sales up more than 10% year on year. Following weeks of bad weather, with the UK battered by a series of storms, latest reports indicate that British holiday makers are very much looking forward to the summer.

The positive start to 2014 also indicates British holiday makers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of booking early. Research conducted at the end of the 2013 summer holidays shows an increasing number of people said they had booked their holiday further in advance that year compared to 2012.

Across all holidays, just over a quarter (27%) of consumers said they booked further in advance, half (53%) booked at the same time and one in five (20%) said they had left it later, booking closer to the departure date. Younger travellers (16-24 year olds) are the most likely to book in advance, almost half (48%) booked their holiday further in advance in 2013 and early booking was also favoured by people with young families, 41% of whom booked further in advance.

Better deals/cheaper prices is the main motivator for booking early, over six in ten (62%) cited this as their reason, and ABTA Members have reported that early booking offers such as free child places and low deposit schemes have proved popular. Nearly half (49%) booked in advance for better availability, while better choice (33%) and getting time off work (26%) were also popular reasons.

ABTA is also launching a new hub on its website for holiday makers: with advice on booking early and an interactive web tool with information and inspiration on which destinations to visit at different times of the year. ABTA Members will also be promoting their services and deals on Twitter using the hashtag #ABTAearlybird, for one week from 20th January – giving thousands of consumers real time information on holiday offers.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: "We are cautiously optimistic about holiday bookings in 2014 so it’s very encouraging to see a strong start to the year and we are also pleased that more consumers appear to understand why it’s important to book early.

"But with one in five people leaving it later to book in 2013, it’s important that we get the message out about the benefits of booking early: the travel industry traditionally launches some of its best deals at this time of year and holiday makers who book early can take advantage of these, as well as getting greater choice and availability. These benefits are even more pronounced for families where availability of child places for the summer months can fill up quickly."