Bumper ‘Sunshine Saturday’ holiday bookings predicted by Abta

‘Sunshine Saturday’ is expected to be one of the busiest for a number of a years now that holidaymakers no longer face the burden of Covid travel restrictions.

The prediction came from Abta 24 hours ahead of what is projected to be a “bumper day” for holiday bookings.

The first Saturday after Christmas and new year is dubbed ‘Sunshine Saturday’ by the travel trade as it is typically the most popular day of the year to book a foreign trip.

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It follows research by the travel association showing that 61% of people plan to head abroad this year and around a third (31%) intend to book earlier than normal to get the best deal.

New figures show that two-thirds (66%) of people say going on holiday is very important to them following a lack of travel during the pandemic. 

Many intend to prioritise their holidays ahead of other discretionary spend like eating out, leisure activities or buying new clothes.

Staying closer to home seems to be the preference for most people, with a large proportion of most popular destinations being short to mid-haul countries such as Spain, Turkey and the UAE. 

However, the US, Mexico, Thailand and Australia continue to have their draw as long-haul favourites.

Appetite ‘remarkably resilient’

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The start of the year usually brings lots of enthusiasm for booking holidays and we know many people will be really looking forward to getting away in 2023.

“People’s appetite for holiday taking has remained remarkably resilient despite the ongoing pressure on people’s finances, though there’s definitely a strong focus on securing great value for money. 

“Our number one piece of advice is to book with a reputable travel company, such as an Abta member travel agent or tour operator, who can help you find the holiday you’re looking for at the price you want to pay.”

Which? Travel acting deputy editor Jo Rhodes said: “While many of us may be hoping to secure a good deal this weekend, it’s important to shop around and not feel rushed into making a decision. 

“Time-limited deals aren’t always everything they promise – in fact when Which? analysed these kinds of offers in the past, we found that in more than half of cases, they were the same price, or even cheaper, after the sale ended.

“The new year sales certainly aren’t the only opportunity to bag a discount; it is often possible to find bargains throughout the year on routes where airlines are keen to fill seats – setting up a price alert will help you see when fares fall. 

“Whenever you choose to book, opt for a provider with a good flexible booking policy and take out comprehensive travel insurance from the day you book to cover you in case you are unable to travel.”

Abta’s top 23 destinations for 2023:

  1. Spain
  2. US
  3. France
  4. Italy
  5. Greece
  6. Portugal
  7. Germany
  8. Australia
  9. Turkey
  10. Cyprus
  11. Austria
  12. Thailand
  13. Canada
  14. Netherlands
  15. United Arab Emirates
  16. Ireland
  17. Croatia
  18. Mexico
  19. Switzerland
  20. Norway
  21. Egypt
  22. Iceland
  23. Belgium

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