Spain and Portugal holiday demand surges amid terror attack fears

Spain and Portugal holiday demand surges amid terror attack fears

Holidaymakers are flocking to destinations in the western Mediterranean this summer as terror attacks are putting tourists off other traditionally popular locations, travel agents have said.

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) warned that people leaving it late to book their break may find it more difficult than normal amid "notable increases" in bookings to Spain (26%), Portugal (29%) and Cyprus (18%) this year.

Demand for destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt has fallen following terrorism incidents, the organisation added.

A survey of more than 1,600 people found that almost two-thirds (65%) of those planning to take a summer holiday have already booked.

Holidaymakers are being advised to consider alternative destinations such as the northern coasts of Spain and Portugal, or travelling outside the peak months of July and August.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "We are seeing a significant increase in summer holiday bookings to western Mediterranean destinations, so I would urge holidaymakers who are looking to travel not to delay in making their booking.

"My advice to those who have left it late is to be flexible when making their booking and seek the advice of a travel professional who will be able to advise them on the best options and destinations still available, as well as recommending less well-known and less crowded areas."

Thirty Britons were killed by a gunman on a beach in Sousse, Tunisia, in June last year. The country's ambassador to the UK has urged the Foreign Office to relax its travel advice, which warns against all but essential travel.

Flights between the UK and the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have been suspended since November after a plane operated by Russian airline Metrojet blew up over the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people.

The Tunisian ambassador to the UK, Nabil Ammar, called on the Government to take into account security improvements that have been made over the last 12 months.

He told the BBC there was now a gap between the "perception of the level of security, and the real security on the ground".

The Foreign Office said the safety of Britons is its main concern.

Last week an EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo carrying 66 people crashed into the Mediterranean.

The cause of the crash has not been confirmed but reports suggest that smoke was detected in parts of the Airbus A320 before it disappeared from radar.

Meanwhile, a Sunday newspaper report last week claimed that Britons already pay more than their European counterparts for almost identical holidays.

A seven-night bed and breakfast stay on Spain's Costa Blanca was found to be a third more expensive on a travel agent's UK website compared to its German site, while a camping holiday company was selling Britons a week-long break in the Dordogne in south-west France for 19% more than the price on its Dutch website.

Frank Brehany, of Holiday Travel Watch, told the Sunday Mirror: "British consumers could be forgiven for thinking they're being ripped off.

"The single market is supposed to mean better deals for all, someone forgot to tell UK travel firms."