ABTA has estimated that a record 2.4 million British holidaymakers will be heading overseas for their summer holidays this weekend (July 21-23), which for the majority of schools in England and Wales marks the start of the summer break.

The Mediterranean dominates the market for families, and temperatures this weekend range from the low to high thirties with uninterrupted sunshine.

Spain remains the number one destination for the UK holiday market with the Balearic and Canary islands leading the way, but bookings to Portugal and Greece are also strong as is demand for Italy and France.

ABTA Members are reporting strong growth for Bulgaria and Croatia and significant increases in interest for family friendly resorts. For those heading further afield, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico have sold well with Florida remaining the number one long haul choice for families.

Domestic bookings are healthy, with travel agents and tour operators reporting strong demand to the West Country and seaside resorts. City breaks are also popular at this time of year for families with European cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam doing particularly well.

Airports in the South East are expecting a very busy weekend with over 500,000 passengers expected to depart from Heathrow, 335,000 from Gatwick, 136,000 from Stansted and 85,000 from Luton. 150,000 are due to depart from Manchester, 70,000 from Birmingham and 55,000 from Bristol. More than 100,000 will be leaving from Scottish airports with 70,000 from Glasgow alone.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive for the travel association, said: “This weekend is the traditional curtain raiser for the family summer holidays and I am delighted to report that record numbers will be heading off on holiday this weekend. With so many people travelling, the roads, public transport and ports will be exceptionally busy so we would recommend that people factor a little extra time into their travel plans to avoid any stress or disappointment.”

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