ABTA – The Travel Association is advising holidaymakers to book their summer holidays early this year after new figures show a 6% year-on-year increase in bookings for overseas summer holidays with substantial increases for Spain (27%) and Portugal (32%), with Cyprus (14%) and Malta (15%) also selling well.

Bookings to Greece are at similar levels to 2015 as are those to the US.

Similar booking patterns are being reported by travel trade associations in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, which will result in increased demand and competition for accommodation, emphasising how important it is to book early this year according to the association.

The growth in popularity of the Western Mediterranean is being driven partly by a drop in business to traditionally popular destinations like Tunisia and Egypt, following terrorist incidents and changes to Foreign Office travel advice.

More customers also appear to be looking for the wider choice and good value on offer to early bookers.

Mediterranean Eurozone countries have responded to local economic problems by lowering prices in bars and restaurants, and the pound is still at a relatively high level, meaning that these destinations offer extremely good value for money.

Another factor behind this growth is the continuing readjustment in the overseas holiday market following the significant falls seen in 2008 and 2009 after the financial crisis and credit crunch, when overall UK passenger numbers fell by 15%.

In 2015, UK airlines reported that passenger numbers had returned to pre- credit crunch levels.

Mark Tanzer, the association's chief executive, said: “The significant increase in summer holiday bookings to Western Mediterranean destinations is also being mirrored in other Northern European markets so it makes it more important than ever that customers book early to obtain the best value and ensure they get the holiday of their choice.”

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