Tourists seeking to avoid terror threat head for safety of Spain

Couple walking at the beach

Bumper year forecast for Spanish tourism as British and Russian holidaymakers shun Tunisia and Egypt following last year’s attacks

Gone are the days when the British holidaymaker had to get up early to beat a German towel to the sunlounger. Now it seems it’s the Russians we will be rubbing shoulders with in this year’s favoured holiday destinations.

January is the peak booking time for holidays and there are strong signs in the industry that we will be spending more on getting away from it all this year. The top destination looks set to be Spain, both for Britons and for Russians, who will be seeking sunny beaches away from Egypt after a Russian airliner was brought down there last September.

After a troubled year when terror attacks targeted some popular holiday hotspots, perhaps the most surprising thing is the widespread agreement in the industry that people are still determined to travel.

“It looks like being a very good year for travel,” said Bob Atkinson of TravelSupermarket.com. “Brits are very resilient and all our research shows that they intend to travel more – not less – in 2016, to spend more and to have longer holidays than last year.”

While Spain has long been a favoured holiday destination for Britons, this year its close proximity, apparent safety and the strength of the pound against the euro are making it more attractive than ever.

“Spain is now accounting for a third of all destination searches online,” said Atkinson. “It is at a cost to other places of course. This time last year, Tunisia was being pitched as the place for absolute value, but searches for Tunisia have fallen off a cliff [after the terror attack last June in which 38 tourists died]. Paris Disneyland is also suffering a bit. Paris isn’t so much, but the family destination of Disneyland is a different market.”

He said that with both Russia and Britain enforcing travel restrictions to Egypt, this was pushing people from both nations to Spain, and possibly Greece, which though tainted last year by the debt crisis looks set to enjoy a bumper 2016.

Last month TUI, the world’s biggest tour operator, said it was switching its sights to the Canary Islands and Cyprus in 2016 to replace its previous popular destinations of Egypt and Tunisia. It said that, overall, holidays bookings from the UK were already up 10% on last year. The Association Of British Travel Agents (Abta) pointed to the trend for Spain in its December report. It said the country was set for a bumper year with bookings for summer 2016 way ahead of previous years.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Tracy McVeigh, for The Observer on Sunday 3rd January 2016 00.05 Europe/London

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