Industry analyst GfK has confirmed a solid start to the January holiday sales period, with summer 2016 bookings in the first full week of the year having gine up 4% on a year ago. The average selling price was almost 2% up, despite growth in short-haul bookings at the expense of mid-haul. By 9 January, season-to-date bookings for the summer were up 7% year on year, with the average selling price flat.
GfK reported a 22% increase in season-to-date short-haul bookings and a 9% rise in long-haul, but a 3% decline in mid-haul, with bookings to Egypt down 41% year on year and no flights to Tunisia.
And as the Bulletin has been reporting, Spain and the Balearics are again the big winner, with season-to-date bookings up 29% year on year.
Portugal has enjoyed a 32% increase and Italy 15%, but bookings to Greece are flat and Turkey down 29%.
TUI and Thomas Cook declined to comment on the market ahead of planned trading updates, but a Thomas Cook spokesperson said: "Spain, in particular Tenerife, and Greece are our most-searched destinations for summer since the key booking period began."
But while those who have booked early may have got a good deal, tour operators are trying to sell pre- and post-peak season holidays first. With demand about to spike, prices may be raised, hitting the late bookers.
According to industry sources, after the terrorist atrocities in previous favourite destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt, Britons are booking breaks in countries with a perceived lower threat of terrorism. Turkey and Morocco are being shunned by families and charter flights to Tunisia are still off.
And areas of Greece could also be set to suffer as Britons have been chatting on TripAdvisor about shunning the Greek islands of Kos and Lesbos, because of an influx of Syrian refugees.
Prices have already begun to rise as much as 12 per cent and as demand switches further south and west, further price rises can be expected, with the Balearics filling up fast.