Nearly half of Thomas Cook’s UK customers are opting to travel to non-eurozone destinations this summer, with surges in bookings for Turkey and Tunisia.
The tour operator’s 2019 UK Holiday Report found 48% of package holidays for this summer were to non-eurozone countries – up by 10 percentage points on this time last year.
This charge is being led by Turkey, which has overtaken neighbouring Greece to become Cook’s second most popular package holiday destination, behind Spain in top spot. Turkey also now accounts for 25% of flight-only bookings for all Thomas Cook Airlines.
Tunisia has seen package bookings double compared with last year while flight-bookings have risen four-fold, helping the destination climb to 7th place in the list of Cook’s most popular destinations (up from 10th place in 2018). Family bookings have been particularly strong to Tunisia – up by 159% year-on-year.
Cook admits the “prolonged uncertainty” over Brexit has “led many to delay their decision on when and where they book for their summer holidays”.
But more positively, Cook’s survey found that over half of UK consumers were “more likely to holiday abroad than last year”, while a quarter said an overseas holiday was a higher spending priority than in 2018. Only 8% of consumers said spending on a holiday was a lower priority this year.
All-inclusives are also growing for Cook and they now account for 66% of all package holiday bookings – up from 63% in 2018’s report – as customers look to “lock in” food and drink costs with the uncertainty over how Brexit could affect the pound’s value.
Will Waggott, Cook’s chief of tour operating, said: “Britain may be living through unique times from a political perspective, however our desire to holiday abroad is clear.
“The political turmoil is having an impact in other ways, revealing itself in a clear shift to non-EU countries and a growth in all-inclusive.
“Turkey has already overtaken Greece to claim the number two spot of most desirable summer destinations and Tunisia is working its way back up the popularity stakes as it re-establishes itself as a hotspot for British tourists.”
Cook’s top five destinations for summer 2019 are Spain, including the Balearic and Canary islands, Turkey, Greece, the US and Cyprus.
The report also reveals a change in the mindset of younger holidaymakers with those aged between 18 and 25 now prioritising “relaxing and recharging” over “tanning and clubbing”.