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Monday, July 14, 2008

The great holiday getaway

A mixed start to the UK summer has sparked off a holiday booking frenzy with Brits looking at departing in the next three weeks, says leading online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com.

Following the numerous credit crunch reports, the rise in costs and risk of recession, consumers have held back and waited until the last minute to book their holidays, making sure that they could afford going away. With the recent appalling and uncertain weather, the wait is over.

lastminute.com has witnessed an impressive increase in its week on week trading with traffic of unique visitors searching holidays being up 23% over the last seven days when the weather has rapidly deteriorated.

Visitors to the site are looking for departure dates within the next three weeks making lead in time shorter than ever before. Most searched departure dates include 26 and 19 July as well as 02 August.

Destinations performing really well this summer are mainly outside the Euro zone with Egypt and Turkey up 14% year on year but also Tunisia up over 95% and Croatia up a whopping 150%.

Sales are very much price driven and European destinations only manage to do well when very good value for money packages are available. Holidays to Italy (one week from £299 on a bed and breakfast basis), Austria (one week from £199 on a half-board basis) and Switzerland (One week from £299 on a half-board basis) are currently flying off the shelves.

In the UK, hotel stays are increasingly popular over the summer. More and more people are looking at cutting the length of their summer holidays to be able to enjoy a number of breaks at home. The UK’s coastal areas are seeing record numbers of bookings. Brighton is up 70%, Bournemouth 20% and Eastbourne 66%.

Customers are also booking more attractions, theme parks, theatre and music tickets along with their hotels. Such packages have registered an 18% growth compared to last year.

lastminute.com is also seeing a growing trend in bookings cottages. Areas that are particularly doing well include celebrity magnet places such as the Cotswolds, Dorset and Cornwall. These cottages are usually booked for one week or less as people tend to go for a shorter length of time to enjoy other breaks throughout the year and spread the costs.

lastminute.com Managing Director John Bevan said: “ This summer our customers are going where their pound will take them further and where good bargains are to be had. We are seeing a strong interest in destinations outside the Euro, whether these are short or long haul. We are also noticing that Britons are trying to find ways to cut corners by spreading short breaks throughout the summer as well as throughout the year but also by finding cheaper ways to have a good time at home or abroad.”

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