UK holiday exodus gets underway

With weather forecasters predicting that Britain is likely to stay in the grip of the current cold snap over the coming Easter holiday weekend and beyond, a mass exodus to warmer climes is already underway.

According to travel industry figures, 1.7 million Britons will be taking advantage of the Easter break and jetting away from the ice, snow and biting winds that are currently afflicting the UK. A flood of last minute bookings by chilly Brits has boosted traveller numbers to well above the average for Easter, and topping the winter escape destinations are Tunisia, the Canary Islands, Turkey, Egypt and the Balearic Islands. Long haul destinations centre mainly on the USA, with Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Miami and San Francisco all proving popular, while better than average snow conditions in Europe mean that France and Austria are proving to be the destinations of choice for skiers.

Over the coming holiday weekend, Heathrow airport is expecting to accommodate 600,000 vacationing Brits, while Gatwick expects 214,000, Manchester and Stansted 110,000 each, and Luton 55,000.

The chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), Mark Tanzer, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many Brits are desperate for some sunshine. We’ve seen a surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations and ski lovers are also in for a treat with some of the best snow conditions seen for years.’

However, despite the rush to leave the country the RAC is still predicting that the nation’s roads will be busy, with as many as 7 million motorists taking to the highways en route to UK and European destinations. Congestion is expected at peak getaway times, especially in Northwest and Southwest England.

Easter holiday: Take three days off and get away with 11

Thanks to the way the bank holidays have fallen and the extra day off for the Royal Wedding, this Easter will feel like a much longer holiday than usual. Especially if you take three days off in the middle, this will give you an extra long break of eleven days.

Thanks to Good Friday falling later than usual, April 22, followed by the royal wedding on the 29th and then the May Day bank holiday on the 2, many of us will be escaping the office for longer than usual.

In fact take three days off , April 26 – 28, and you’ll end up with eleven days of Easter holiday.

For many children and parents the school break has already started, with this weekend predicted to be busiest of all. Short haul destinations over to Europe are most popular at Easter, with Rome, Venice and Barcelona being top, reports British Airways.

Paul Furner, boss of TravelRepublic.co.uk, said: “Sales are up by an astonishing 59.3% over the same period last year.

“The run of bank holidays and the fact that the royal wedding is being screened and celebrated in lots of places outside the UK, has been too much to resist.”

But Mr Furner added: “We are also seeing strong demand from those wanting to escape the ­celebrations completely.”

If your planning on spending the extra long Easter break at home, the forecast is looking good – dry and fair for most of the eleven days.

Tesco’s Trevor Datsun said: “This is the earliest in the year we’ve ever had major demand for BBQ food and charcoal. The great weather has created a feelgood factor and got the whole nation anticipating a BBQ weekend.”

The hot weather is also expected to tempt many to the seaside.

The AA said: “We expect an increase in traffic due to early Easter holidays and a rush to the beaches. But a day-trip to the beach will cost 14p a litre more than it did just 12 months ago.”

Fifth of holidaymakers swap summer holiday to Easter 2011

New research by the UK’s online independent travel agent sunshine.co.uk has revealed that a fifth of holidaymakers have swapped their main 2011 holiday from summer to Easter this year. The majority admitted to doing so in order to take advantage of the two consecutive four day weekends, provided by Easter and the Royal Wedding.

The results of a new study, have shown that the 2011 travel plans of British holidaymakers have been somewhat affected by the extra bank holiday this Easter; added to the calendar thanks to the impending Royal wedding.

sunshine.co.uk conducted the research in order to discover more about holidaymakers’ plans for 2011, after noticing a rise in bookings for Easter breaks, when compared to the same time last year. 1,825 British holidaymakers were subsequently polled, each asked questions surrounding their travel plans for this year.

Just over half, 54%, of those taking part had already booked a holiday for 2011, whilst 6% had already been on a trip abroad this year. A further quarter, 24%, of respondents were planning to book a 2011 holiday, whilst the remaining respondents had no plans to travel abroad this year.

Of those who had already booked a holiday, 21% claimed to have swapped their usual summer break for an Easter-time holiday this year. When asked why they had done so, 89% explained that it was in order to take advantage of the longer May bank holiday made available by the Royal wedding in April, meaning that less time would be required off work for a longer break.

In contrast, 7% of those who had booked an Easter break instead of one in summer claimed it was in order to ‘get a better deal.’

A further third, 29%, of total respondents said that they had, or planned, to book time off work in April to take advantage of the consecutive 4 day Bank Holiday weekends, whilst 3% of respondents admitted that they thought the extra Bank Holiday granted by David Cameron was ‘unnecessary.’

Online travel agency sunshine.co.uk has noticed a 41% increase in holiday bookings over Easter 2011 when compared to the same time last year, suggesting that people are opting for an earlier break to take advantage of the bank holidays.

Chris Brown, co-founder of sunshine.co.uk, commented on the findings: “People would be wise to take advantage of the long break on offer from the extra Bank Holiday this year. By taking just several days holiday, you can enjoy about 10 days off work and it’s not often you can do that!

“Many people have evidently clicked on to the idea and are going to be jetting off for sun, sea and sand instead of sticking around for the Royal wedding. We have some fantastic last minute deals for those wishing to spend Easter abroad, but we’d recommend people get in there fast and book the time off, before everyone else in the office leaves you holding the fort!”