Will late bookers get a place in the sun this summer?

The summer holiday getaway has begun, but with so many of our top destinations out of bounds is it still possible to land a late deal?

Holidaymakers who are planning a last minute dash to one of the popular beach resorts of the western Med may be in for disappointment this summer.

Security concerns in Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia mean a significant number of tourists have switched to the ‘safe haven’ destinations of Spain and Portugal, where bookings are reported to be up by 25% or more.

Even though operators anticipated this shift in demand by increasing capacity, late bookers to the Iberian peninsula are likely to find it much harder to land bargain deals in their preferred location or choice of dates this year.

Driving margins

Thomas Cook warned as early as February that it could be forced to raise the ‘no vacancies’ sign in Spain after cutting capacity by 29% in Turkey, a destination which had been its second most popular market for Britons last year.

Larger operators have the scale and business model to offer last-minute bookings, but having cut risk capacity by 4% Thomas Cook has stressed that its focus this summer is on driving margins rather than volumes.

Encouragingly for the travel industry, there’s been no immediate sign that Brexit and the fall in the pound has forced people to change foreign travel plans.

In any case, travel association ABTA said that long before the EU referendum two-thirds of people planning to take a summer holiday had already booked.

Other destinations

Most of those leaving it late did so because of uncertainty over their finances and personal circumstances, rather than because they wanted a late bargain.

ABTA said such holidaymakers may want to consider Bulgaria or Croatia or travel outside the peak summer months in order to get a good deal.

Longer-haul destinations such as the United States are now more popular and attention is also turning back to Turkey as a location for a cheaper break.

And there will always be bargains. EasyJet recently said many summer holiday flight fares were lower than last year, with some up to 60% cheaper.

Late Summer Sun