More than half of UK holidaymakers went on a package holiday in the last year, according to Mintel research commissioned by TUI Travel.

TUI Travel, which owns Thomson Holidays and First Choice Holidays and sends away 7.5 million holidaymakers every year, says the figures demonstrate the package holiday is more popular than commonly thought.

The research found 47% of holidaymakers who travelled overseas in the 12 months to June 2008 went on independently organised breaks, while 42% only went on package holidays. But a further 11% used both methods for their holidays, which means 53% in total went on package holidays during the period.

Government figures based on the International Passenger Survey consider only holidays “marketed at an inclusive price” as packages, not tailormade holidays. Its data showed that of 46 million holidays overseas last year, 19 million were packages – the equivalent of four in ten holidays.

TUI Travel UK and Ireland managing director Dermot Blastland said the latest figures showed the package holidays was not in decline. He added: “We think the package holiday is very robust and the market is actually stable and not declining. We believe more holidaymakers are travelling on packages than current statistics indicate.”

The travel company’s annual trends report also predicted holidaymakers will return to protected holidays because of the current financial insecurity and threat of further airline failures following the collapse of the XL Leisure Group last week.  It also forecast  increased sales of all-inclusive holidays and growing popularity of  ‘good value’ destinations outside the eurozone such as Egypt, Turkey and Croatia.