Britain’s annual dash for winter sunshine is showing a marked North / South divide with an increase in bookings of up to 46% at northern airports compared to last year.Research by The Co-operative Travel, based on more than 180,000 winter holiday bookings, shows that Scotland, the North West and Yorkshire are leading the way with Edinburgh (up 27%), Leeds Bradford (28%), Robin Hood Doncaster (46%) and Liverpool (41%) airports all showing significant increases.
In comparison the only southern airports to show a rise in sample are Heathrow and Luton, with a more modest 11% and 5% respectively.
The research also suggests that despite the recession, the winter holiday market is starting to take off. Popular winter sun destinations are showing significant increases in bookings compared to last year with Turkey (up 31%), Egypt (19%) and Tunisia (16%) leading the surge.
Trevor Davis, director of retail distribution at The Co-operative Travel, said: “The increases shown by our figures are positive news for the travel sector. However, the pattern of the recovery is by no means consistent.
“Comparing our figures with the overall travel market, which is virtually flat, it seems that we are seeing a mini-recovery just for package holidays and only within pockets of the UK.
“However, the signs of growth are there and hopefully bode well for a strong summer 2010 market when the main booking period begins in the New Year.”
ABTA is also predicting a busy Christmas for the travel sector, with as many as 2.8 million people expected to go away over the Christmas and New Year period.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “There is a lot of pent up demand for holidays, but we are still seeing customers booking late and looking for good value for money, so there are no surprises that the winter winners at this stage are those outside of the Eurozone, with package holidays and all-inclusives still proving particularly popular ways of keeping budgets in check.”