Cyprus is the fifth most popular destination for Britons this summer, according to Thomas Cook’s annual Holiday Report, based on its package holidays and flight-only bookings.
Thomas Cook found that British holidaymakers are favouring destinations outside the European Union after repeated delays to Brexit discouraged travellers from booking early and prompted them to look further afield.
Three of the top five destinations – Spain, Greece and Cyprus – are nevertheless EU countries. The other two are Turkey (second) and the US (fourth).
Turkey and Tunisia are among the biggest beneficiaries from the trend towards non-EU bookings, the firm said in a report, with demand for both recovering after security concerns curbed bookings in recent years.
Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, but an impasse in parliament over the terms of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has delayed departure. A new deadline of October 31 was agreed with Brussels.
Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company, said it was “clear that the prolonged uncertainty around the manner and timing of Britain’s exit from the European Union has led many to delay their decision on when and where they book for their summer holidays.”
But a majority of the 3,422 UK holidaymakers surveyed by the company nevertheless said they were more likely to holiday abroad than last year, with a quarter saying that a foreign holiday was higher in their spending priorities than in 2018, compared to just 8 percent who said it was lower.
“Britain may be living through unique times from a political perspective, however our desire to holiday abroad is clear,” said Will Waggott, Chief of Tour Operating for Thomas Cook.
“The political turmoil is having an impact in other ways, revealing itself in a clear shift to non-EU countries.”
Thomas Cook said 48% of its UK package holiday bookings for this summer so far were to non-EU destinations, up 10 percentage points on the same time last year.
Turkey has overtaken Greece to be the second most popular destination, with Spain remaining in top spot. The United States came in fourth and Cyprus fifth.
In the second “the year’s most desirable destinations” the report lists Spain, Turkey, Greece, the US and Cyprus.
On Cyprus it says: “Knocking the Caribbean off the number five spot is Cyprus which is popular partly due to its reputation for exotic weddings. Booking early to make sure the guests save the date will be top of the list for newly-engaged couples, so its position may dip later in the year,” the report said.
And a slight increase in “all-inclusive” holidays could reflect a desire for travellers to “lock in” food and drink costs given the possible volatility in the pound, the company said.