British travellers are turning their backs on Egypt and Turkey to head to destinations they consider safer as holiday habits change for summer 2016.
A new study by Travelzoo suggests that more than two thirds (71%) of British people planning a holiday are now choosing where to go based on how safe they feel the destination is. In fact safety has become the most important factor in travel decisions, ahead of the affordability (52%) and good weather (42%).
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In February, it was reported that a flurry of bookings to European resorts in Spain and Portugal forced hotels in the Algarve and Andalucia to sell out completely for July and August.
But Travelzoo's research found that the UK is now the most popular choice of destination for 2016, beating Spain (21%) and France (10%).
The USA and Italy are in equal fourth place, while the top 10 also includes long-haul destinations such as Canada, Australia and the Caribbean.
A number of the 2,000 respondents in the survey said their destination choice was impacted by existing travel restrictions – 11% of respondents said if bans to Sharm el Sheikh or Tunisia were lifted they'd travel there immediately, while overall 43% would be willing to travel there at some point in the near future.
Louise Hodges at Travelzoo said: "It's great to see there's still an incredibly strong appetite for summer holidays amongst the British public, for both European and longer-haul destinations. The research, however, does echo what our partners in the travel industry have been telling us: although many Britons are still planning to get away this summer, they are now opting for what they perceive to be safe travel destinations, rather than simply chasing the sun, and this in turn is having a direct impact on the countries they are travelling to."
Hodges added: "Despite the attempts of terrorists to disrupt our daily lives it's great to see the great British public still insisting on their summer holiday. Of course the situation has meant that safety considerations are impacting destination choices and this is affecting prices and availability."
Prices are higher in the Western Mediterranean than previous years and availability is lower, said Louise. "As we predicted earlier in the year many holidays there have already sold out. I have spoken with some UK suppliers who have had hotel stock withdrawn by Spanish hoteliers holding out for higher rates. At the other end some of the best deals we have ever seen can be had to Egypt, Morocco and Turkey for those determined not to have their holiday choices disrupted."
The countries British people have booked or are planning to visit in summer 2016:
1. UK (27%)
2. Spain (21%)
3. France (10%)
=4. USA (8%)
=4. Italy (8%)
6. Greece (7%)
=7. Canada (5%)
=7. Germany (5%)
=7. Portugal (5%)
=10. Australia (4%)
=10. Caribbean (4%)
=10. Cyprus (4%)