Mexico and Brazil are among the fastest growing long haul winter sun destinations, according to latest data from Hayes & Jarvis.

Commercial director Niel Alobaidi said Mexico had shown the most dramatic growth of any destination, with demand fuelled by the start of British Airways flights from Gatwick to Cancun in November.

Commenting on bookings made in the final weeks of 2010 and in January to date, he said: “The new route makes travel to Mexico much easier and has put the spotlight on Cancun and the Riviera Maya resorts whose hotels responded with really exceptional All Inclusive offers.

“These made winter sun package prices unbelievably good value and we have seen a resulting growth in bookings of more than 270% over the past six weeks.

“Prices remain exceptionally competitive now and so we expect the heavy demand for Mexico to continue as holidaymakers book early to get good deals.”

The operator saw “significant growth” for Peru, Argentina, Chile and Brazil after it issued a dedicated Latin America brochure in November.

Combined bookings – mostly for complex multi-centre, multi-country holidays – are up by more than 37% year on year.

Alobaidi said: “Latin America has been promising to explode onto the holiday scene for years but has only recently begun to ignite – helped by the opening of more beach resorts in Brazil at a price British holidaymakers can afford.

“As the focus sharpens on Brazil in advance of the 2014 World Cup and its tourism infrastructure improves, we expect demand to rise, so now is the time to go before prices rise too.”

Looking ahead, Alobaidi warned that there is a danger of confusion about the impact that the VAT rise to 20% may have on holidays.

“Holidaymakers may be concerned that this will lead to price rises but in fact there is no VAT on long haul trips and incentives offered by both hotels and airlines means that holiday prices are currently very competitive – especially for premium accommodation and all inclusive holidays,” he said.

Despite December’s Red Sea shark attacks, demand for Egypt remains high as consumers seek out low-price packages, according to the operator.

Hayes & Jarvis says that Egypt has trounced the opposition to take first place in its quarterly Package Price Index for both all inclusive and bed and breakfast-based one week stays.

According to the index, which compares prices in January across 14 destinations worldwide, a one week all inclusive holiday in Egypt (£599 per person) is under half the cost of a week in a similarly-rated resort in Barbados, Costa Rica, Brazil, the Maldives or Dubai (£1,199-£1,399 per person).

And prices for stays based on both bed & breakfast and all inclusive accommodation have fallen by more than 7% since the first index, published last September.

Alobaidi said: “Winter sun holidaymakers will be hard-pressed to find better value than on a package holiday to Egypt.

“The Package Price Index shows that holidays to top resort hotels are being discounted by between 14-17% and are significantly less expensive than in any other destination, whether holidaymakers choose All Inclusive or bed & breakfast accommodation.”

Las Vegas has become Hayes & Jarvis’ third-placed bestseller and one of four US destinations to make it into its top ten, on the back of competitive prices and greater flight availability.
 
Thailand beach holiday bookings began to bounce back early last autumn, showing a 20% increase year on year, but recovery for Bangkok was slower after the spring riots.

Sri Lanka sales also slowed in the second half of 2010 after a strong early year performance but demand is returning after attractive hotel incentives helped to reduce package costs.

Hayes & Jarvis best selling long haul destinations 2010:

1. The Maldives
2. Thailand
3. Las Vegas
4. New York
5. Mauritius
6. Kenya
7. Dubai
8. Orlando
9. Sri Lanka
10. San Francisco