ABTA – The Travel Association estimates that more than 2 million British holidaymakers are set to head overseas for summer holidays this weekend (July 25-28) - which for the majority of schools in England marks the start of the six week break.
Spain remains the number one destination for the UK holiday market, with the Canary and Balearic Islands continuing to be popular.
ABTA Members have also reported good sales for Greece and Turkey and for those heading further afield the long haul destinations of Dubai and Mexico have also sold well, with Florida remaining the number one long haul choice for families.
High July temperatures in the UK have also boosted domestic bookings, with tour operators reporting strong demand and an increase in last minute bookings. As well as city and country breaks in the UK, shorter holidays to Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rome, Paris and New York also feature as some of the top picks for summer 2014.
Airports in the South East are expecting a very busy weekend with 450,000 passengers departing from Heathrow, 295,000 from Gatwick, 140,000 from Stansted and 79,000 from Luton.
Over 100,000 will be leaving from Scottish airports with 50,000 from Glasgow alone.
162,000 are due to depart from Manchester, 70,000 from Birmingham, 45,000 from Bristol and 37,000 from East Midlands airport.
Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “This weekend sees the start of the main holiday exodus, with the vast majority of schools now ‘out’ for the summer. Around 2 million British holidaymakers will be heading off for an overseas break, with many more holidaying at home. While a favourable exchange rate in many destinations will increase the appeal of overseas holidays, we also expect the warm summer weather we’ve recently experienced to make the UK popular for late bookers. Hot summer sun in the UK and abroad means lots of people will enjoy time at the pool or in the sea – whatever the destination, all holidaymakers should try and swim safe with the tips we have developed with the Royal Life Saving Society www.abta.com/swimsafe”