The Travel Association estimates that over 4.5 million passengers are heading abroad over the Christmas and New Year period [18 December – 2 January], with the peak travel day predicted to be 22 December, and Christmas Day expected to be the quietest day for travel.
Holidaymakers are either heading off for some much-needed winter sun or to colder climes to enjoy the snow. Winter sun lovers are heading short haul to the Canary Islands, Antalya in Turkey and Hurghada in Egypt, long haul to Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
France, Italy and Austria are the most popular destinations for those looking for a traditional experience in a snowy destination, with Lapland and Iceland also selling well this year.
Popular New Year’s Eve breaks include the cities of, New York, Amsterdam, Geneva, Dublin, Barcelona and Budapest and domestically London and Edinburgh lead the way.
Millions of people are leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting high numbers. Over a million are departing from Gatwick, 525,000 from Stansted, 330,000 from Luton, in addition around 480,000 are leaving from Manchester. Heathrow is also anticipated to be very busy with substantial passenger numbers in line with other airports.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers are leaving the UK from Scottish airports, with 226,000 travelling through Edinburgh alone, as well as large numbers leaving from other regional airports.
A significant number of people are also travelling across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with hundreds of thousands heading off on the Eurostar who report their busiest days will be 22, 27 and 29 December.
Many are taking the opportunity to take a break in the UK, staying in a country cottage or a seaside resort, and city breaks in London and York have also sold well.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said:
“Christmas and New Year are always a very busy time for the travel industry with people heading off for winter sun or guaranteed snow for a truly authentic Christmas experience. For many people the festive period is a really busy time of year, going away for Christmas or New Year gives families and friends time to relax, safe in the knowledge that someone else is doing the hard work for them. The weather in the UK looks set to be mild over the holiday period, which should help avoid travel disruption, but the roads will be exceptionally busy so customers should allow extra time to get to their departure port and check for line closures and engineering work if using public transport.”