New figures released this week reveal that destinations like Spain, Portugal and Croatia aren’t losing their appeal as yet again, they continued to steadily increase in popularity among UK holidaymakers in 2015. Perhaps unsurprisingly, visitor numbers to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, however, fell sharply over the same period.
UK tourism was also in good health during the whole of 2015. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show record numbers of inbound visitors to the UK in 2015, with 35.8 million visits, an increase of 4% on 2014. This is now the sixth consecutive year that tourism to the UK has increased, and there are signs that international perceptions are also on the up. Last year, the UK received its first top 20 global ranking for ‘natural beauty’ in a national branding survey.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the popularity of Croatia continues to grow. The Croatian National Tourist Board has released its annual figures and they show that the number of visitors to Croatia increased by 8.5% last year, with an extra 14.9 million visits. More and more Brits are heading to Croatia’s coastline with a 13% increase in the number of UK arrivals and a corresponding 12.5% increase in the number of overnight stays. Dubrovnik has long been a favourite of British holidaymakers and 2015 saw more records broken, with more registered tourists entering the city that year than ever before, according to the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
For 2016, the early signs suggest these trends are set to continue, and the Travel Association has already responded by advising holidaymakers to book early after a surge in summer bookings. These early figures show big increases in the number of bookings to destinations like Spain, Portugal and Malta, with respective rises of 27%, 32% and 15%. Other destinations are faring less well, with bookings to Egypt and Tunisia down significantly on previous years in light of security concerns reflected in changes to the FCO’s travel advice.
Steve Campion, HDC’s Managing Director, said: ‘These figures reflect what we’re seeing here at Holiday Discount Centre, with customers searching and booking early, putting their faith in tried-and-tested Mediterranean destinations like Spain and Greece that offer affordability and plenty of options.’
In January, searches on Holiday Discount Centre for these destinations were up by 10% on last year, supporting the ABTA figures. So if you’re starting to think about where you should travel to this summer, or even where to staycation within the UK, make sure you don’t miss out on the best early bird deals!