Fresh reports from the UK CAA and Norwegian Air give us new insights on the holiday booking habits and preferences of UK travellers.

Christmas time is a busy time for holiday bookings in the UK.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reports that six and a half million people will book new getaways before the clock chimes twelve on 2016.

Citing figures from travel protection body ATOL, the CAA said that over a million people each day (between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve) would book their holiday escape.

Over 13 million people started researching and planning their holiday as soon as the plates were cleared from Christmas lunch.

Interestingly, ATOL and the CAA found that would-be travellers will spend up to 15 hours and six minutes researching their holidays, and will first get their inspiration from Social Media. The average person spends two hours and 36 minutes scrolling for palm trees on smartphones and tablets, the CAA says.

After this leisurely browsing, travellers will spend two hours and 18 minutes avidly researching their choices on review sites and travel forums.

According to ATOL, Spain remains as the number one preferred destination for British travellers, having held the top position since ATOL began recording these statistics over 25 years ago.

Italy and the U.S. come in a close second and third this year.

The Caribbean enjoyed a big boost with double the number of people interested in visiting which placed the region in sixth position on this year’s Top 10.

Top 10 most wanted destinations for 2017

(with percentage of people wanting to visit in 2017)

1. Spain 28%
2. Italy 19%
3. USA 18%
4. Greece 13%
5. France 11%
6. Caribbean 10%
7. Portugal 10%
8. Canada 7%
9. Cyprus 6%
10. Australia 6%

Norwegian published its own list of Top 10 destinations—based based on bookings made by UK-based GetYourGuide users and Norwegian Reward members for travel between January and June 2017—which shows Reykjavik overtaking Paris and Rome as the most favoured holiday destination.

Norwegian’s Top 10 cities where Brits have booked travel activities

1. Reykjavik
2. Paris
3. Rome
4. Dubai
5. Krakow
6. Amsterdam
7. Venice
8. Sydney
9. Dublin
10. Barcelona

The airline finds that Brits will be flocking to Reykjavik to experience the Northern Lights and whale-watching tours. The city has the most bookings for tours and activities of all the cities listed.

Norwegian also reports that UK tourists are increasingly booking convenience extras, to avoid queues at popular destinations.

These include skip the line entry to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, priority entry to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and “no wait” for the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peters.

British travellers are also keen to get to know the history of the places they visit. Cultural landmarks have proven most popular, including tours of the Alhambra, Generalife and Nasrid Palaces in Spain and access to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Norwegian’s Top 10 most popular travel activities booked by Brits

1. Northern Lights Tour in Reykjavik
2. Eiffel Tower Skip the line experience
3. Whale Watching: 3-Hour Trip from Reykjavik
4. Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum Full-Day Tour from Krakow
5. Venice Marco Polo Airport Transfer: Shared Water Taxi
6. Burj Khalifa Tickets: Level 124 & 125
7. Paris: Moulin Rouge Show with Champagne
8. Priority Entrance: Guinness Storehouse with Free Pint
9. No Wait: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s
10. Alhambra, Generalife, and Nasrid Palaces: Guided Tour

“Our findings show that British tourists demand faster access to distinct cultural experiences that will enhance their holidays. European city breaks remain popular,” says Brede Huser, Senior Vice President of Norwegian Reward.

Sun, Savings, Snaps

ATOL reports that “sun, savings and snaps” are UK travellers’ top priorities. UK travellers also value authentic experiences with 22% seeking natural beauty and interesting cultures.

UK Travellers’ Top 10 reasons for selecting a holiday destination, ATOL

(With percentage of people surveyed who agreed that each factor is their priority.)

1. Weather 62%
2. Reasonable prices 55%
3. Natural beauty 45%
4. Interesting culture 39%
5. Food/cuisine 37%
6. Sandy beaches 36%
7. Short travel 19%
8. Activities 18%
9. Family friendly 16%
10. Friendly staff 16%

ATOL reminds travellers in the UK to verify that their package holiday is protected under license.

“Having an ATOL certificate means that your holiday is financially protected, so if the worst happens and your travel company goes bust, you will still be able to get home and will not lose your hard earned cash. For added peace of mind next year, those looking into their next holiday this festive season should look out for the ATOL logo to ensure they can fully enjoy their well-earned holiday—safe in the knowledge they are protected,“ says Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL.

ATOL protection ensures that if the travel company or one of its suppliers ceases trading, travellers can continue their holiday and return home at no extra cost. If the company ceases trading before the travel dates, bookings are eligible for a full refund.

“Holidays involving flights and accommodation booked with separate companies are not ATOL protected. ATOL advises anyone booking trips in this way to take out comprehensive travel insurance and they may wish to make their booking with a credit card for additional cover,” the agency states.

Travellers can find more details on ATOL protection at PackPeaceofMind.co.uk.

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