Turkey overtakes Greece in ‘clear shift’ to non-EU destinations

More British holidaymakers are opting for countries outside the EU for overseas breaks this summer in a year of political turmoil, according to Thomas Cook.

Almost half (48%) of the firm’s UK package holiday bookings for this summer are to non-euro destinations, up 10 percentage points on the same time last year.

Thomas Cook declared today that it is now clear that the prolonged uncertainty around the manner and timing of Brexit has led many to delay their decision on when and where they book for their summer holidays.

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However, more than half of those surveyed for a report by the company say they are more likely to holiday abroad than last year. And more then a quarter claim that a foreign holiday is higher on their spending priorities than in 2018 – only 8% said it was lower.

Thomas Cook Group CEO Peter Fankhauser said: “In the UK, we are living in a time of unprecedented political upheaval and there is little doubt that the prolonged uncertainty around the manner and timing of Britain’s exit from the European Union has led many customers to press pause on their holiday plans for this summer.

“At the time of writing, the Brexit deadline has been extended until the end of October but it is too early to say what impact this will now have on consumer confidence.”

All-inclusive are proving popular with 66% of Thomas Cook’s package holiday bookings being ‘all-in’ deals – slightly up on 2018 – as customers lock in costs for food and drink to avoid losing out to the unsteady British pound.

Turkey is the biggest winner, leapfrogging Greece to become the second most popular package holiday destination.

Additionally, Turkey accounts for a quarter of all Thomas Cook Airlines flight-only bookings so far this year.

Turkey’s value for money and diversity, with sandy beaches, salt lakes and ancient ruins, is driving its position as a 2019 tourism hotspot, aside from its attractiveness for being outside the EU.

Package bookings to Tunisia are double this time last year with flight-only bookings up four-fold in what will be its second summer back on the map for British holidaymakers following the 2015 Sousse terrorist attack.

Thomas Cook 2019 UK Holiday Report also reveals that a year on since the end of Club 18-30, today’s younger generation of holidaymakers are prioritising relaxing and recharging rather than tanning and clubbing.

The report also shows that many people ditch their eco-intentions the moment they arrive in their destination.

Most people admit to recycling less – 46% think it is easy to forget about recycling when on holiday – and they also use more disposable plastic and leave the lights and appliances on more often, the study reveals.

Seven in ten people are in favour of more prompts from the industry to help them be environmentally-friendly on holiday.

“Bite-size” breaks of less than a week are no longer just for short-haul destinations as travellers try to get the most from their annual leave. Thomas Cook Airlines is seeing an increasing number of trips for less than seven days to long-haul destinations, with Mexico, San Francisco and other US cities “rocketing in popularity”.

Mobile searches on are more popular than desktop searches, accounting for 58% of website traffic, the report reveals .

And the percentage of bookings on mobile devices has increased by more than five times versus three years ago, with average purchases on mobile via the Thomas Cook website hitting £1,883 – marginally higher than the average desktop spend of £1,878.

Chief of tour operating Will Waggott said: “Britain may be living through unique times from a political perspective, however our desire to holiday abroad is clear.

“Thomas Cook’s 2019 Holiday Report reveals that the political turmoil is having an impact in other ways, revealing itself in a clear shift to non-EU countries and a growth in all-inclusive.

“Turkey has already overtaken Greece to claim the number two spot of most desirable summer destinations and Tunisia is working its way back up the popularity stakes as it re-establishes itself as a hotspot for British tourists.”

Thomas Cook top five destinations for summer 2019:

• Spain  (mainland, Balearics and Canary Islands)
• Turkey
• Greece
• US
• Cyprus

MoreTui UK targets Turkey with 45,000 extra summer 2020 seats

Pound gains a third in value against Turkish lira


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