The trade enjoyed a bumper start to January with companies reporting double-digit sales growth and industry analyst GfK Ascent recording an 18% surge in booking volumes year on year last week.


Heavy snow at the start of 2010 skewed the year-on-year comparison. However, Advantage chief executive John McEwan reported members’ average selling prices up 12% on a year ago, adding: “It reflects price inflation and more all-inclusive family holiday sales.”


However, long-haul destinations appear to be losing out as Spain stages a remarkable recovery.


GfK Ascent put sales to date for summer 2011 at 4% up on January 2009, with short-haul holidays the big winner up 10% and Spain with 32% of the total market – three percentage points up on a year ago.











Spain heads the top five destinations growth chart which, so far, does not feature the two high-growth destinations of recent years, Turkey and Egypt.


Sales of medium-haul holidays are 5% up, but long-haul trips are down 9% year on year – probably due to increased Air Passenger Duty and fuel costs.


The average sales price of long-haul holidays is £85 more than last year, according to GfK Ascent, whose managing director Sarah Smalley said: “Spain is doing fantastically well. Summer 2011 looks positive despite bad weather and the new year blues.”


Operators were upbeat. Cosmos reported a doubling of sales to Florida since Christmas following offers of 50% off and £50 deposits to mark the operator’s 50th anniversary.


“Florida has leapt from our 10th most-popular destination to number two,” said head of Florida product Neil Garner.


Travel 2 said sales were 17% up on last year. A ‘flash sale’ campaign from January 14, will feature heavily-discounted prices online for several hours on certain days and extra reward points for agents.