Foreign travel bookings rise as Brits get bored of the staycation

For the last three years, seaside towns around Britain have enjoyed newfound popularity thanks to the rise of the staycation.

But now it looks as if a combination of bad British weather and a fall in package-holiday prices has led to an increase in foreign travel as more of us are jetting off to the sun.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the first three months of 2011, the number of Britons travelling abroad jumped by four per cent to 13.5 million, while flight bookings across every sector are up for the first time this year.

TripAdvisor's survey of 6,295 travellers saw just 38 per cent planning a staycation in 2011, compared with 45 per cent last year.

Short-haul bookings are up 12 per cent, medium-haul up four per cent and long-haul up two per cent, according to research industry analyst GfK Ascent, showing that most holidaymakers are now choosing short-haul destinations.

So it's no surprise that bookings to France are up 31 per cent on last year, followed by Italy (15 per cent) and Spain (11 per cent), according to the Co-operative Travel Group, indicating that we've started returning to our favourite summer holiday hotspots.

And if the promised heatwave doesn't materialise soon, it looks likely that even more of us will make last minute bookings and escape to the sun.

If you're thinking about a beach holiday, click on the image below to see our pick of the best resorts in Europe...

The top beach destinations in Europe
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Foreign travel bookings rise as Brits get bored of the staycation

Skiathos is a small island - 12k long by 6km wide - but it packs a punch. The south coast is famous for its deep, sandy bays and the mainland is covered in lush pine forests. It can be crowded and tourist-heavy, but a ban on high rise buildings has increased its appeal even more.
Best for: Family holidays in the sun

St Ives is probably the most famous Cornish holiday town, and rightly so. It oozes chocolate box-charm, and, along with its beautiful beaches, pretty cottages and cute cafe culture, it's also culturally rich. The area is renowned for its art, brimming with workshops, studios and galleries, and the Tate St Ives, part of the Tate Gallery in London, exhibits local work and is well worth a visit. And, of course, let's not forget the delight of the delicious fresh fish - and calorific cream teas.
Best for: Art and landscape lovers

Despite its tiny size, this island has never been the quiet one! The main harbour and town, Chora, has often been described as Greece's answer to St Tropez, full of stunning beaches, cosmopolitan cafes, and glamour.
Best for: Nightlife-loving ladies that lunch (and sunbathe)

This beautiful small valley-town in north west Sicily is renowned for not only its stunning beaches, but also its spectacular mountains - popular with climbers from all over the world - its cuisine, and list of cultural events. Don't miss the famous Festival of Kites in May, the Cous Cous Fest in June, or the Summer Music Festival in July.
Best for: Adventurers

Situated 35km east of Cagliari, Sardinia, Villasimius is a beautiful small town that offers brilliant opportunities for hiking, horse riding, boat trips, climbing and diving.
Best for: Nature-lovers.

Majorca hotspot Alcudia is a historic town with Moorish and Roman influences. It's got every ingredient a great family holiday needs: hotels for all budgets, excellent beaches, mountains for walks, an old town for tourist trinkets, a golf course in Alcanada for dad, and the El Laberinto Maze Fun Park for kids - perfect.
Best for: Sun and fun-seeking families

Twenty years ago, Ayia Napa was a small fishing village with a population of 200. Now, it's a thriving tourists destination with some of the best golden sands in Europe.
Best for: Party-lovers

Calvia is the second hotspot from Mallorca to make Tripadvisor's top ten beach destinations. Why? It's a small town that's retained its traditional village charm and stunning landscape (think views over almond and carob trees), yet is still only a few kilometres from the lively resorts of Magaluf and Palma.
Best for: Couples who want to relax and party at the same time

Boasting 340 days of sun a year, Cyrpus has some of the best weather in the Mediterranean. Protaras is located on the southeast coast and is bursting with beautiful beaches, a huge selection of restaurants and hotels for every budget. It's also surrounded by gorgeous little villages and beauty spots well worth a visit.
Best for: Romantic couples and families

Possibly the most photgraphed beach in the world, Olu Deniz offers beautiful sun drenched beaches, deep turquise blue sea... and, not surprisingly, lots of holidaymakers! It really is special though - not least because of the gorgeous lagoon and laid back atmosphere. Best for: Serious sun worshippers. Want to see more? Now click here to see the top ten beaches in the world, voted for by you.

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