ABTA - The Travel Association estimates that nearly 4 million – will be heading overseas over the Christmas and New Year period  December 17 –January 2.

Christmas and New Year is traditionally one of the peak getaway periods, this year we have seen an increase in the number of people looking to get away to relax and have fun with loved ones. Early snow in Europe has meant that the ski season opened early. Geneva is the main gateway to the Alps and the top destination for many skiers flying out of the UK.

For the many, however, sun is the priority, and will be heading to destinations such as Spain, Dubai, Turkey, and Florida. Others will also be enjoying the beautiful wintery UK scenes staying in country hotels and cottages. The busiest days before Christmas are Friday 17 and Thursday 23 December.

Many will also be looking to take short New Year breaks to cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Dublin, New York and Sydney. Over two million people will be leaving the country through BAA airports, which include Heathrow where 1.5 million will be leaving, Stansted 370,000, Southampton 28,000 and the main Scottish airports, Glasgow 101,000, Edinburgh 145,000 and Aberdeen 48,000. In addition 700,000 will fly from Gatwick, 323,000 from Manchester, 250,000 from Luton, 70,000 from Newcastle and 138,000 from Birmingham. Over 200,000 will travel over or under the English Channel with a further 225,000 travelling away by Eurostar.

John McEwan, ABTA Chairman said: “Christmas is traditionally the busiest time of year for the travel industry and I am delighted to see that so many of our customers are taking this opportunity to head off on holiday and to visit friends and family both in the UK and overseas.”

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