Traditionally most Brits book package holidays in Europe because it is a quick, easy and cheap destination. However, thanks to all the confusion surrounding Brexit, summer package holiday bookings in destinations outside of the EU have risen significantly. So where is popular this year and more importantly where is safe?
Summer breaks to Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt are amongst the most popular searches for hot summer holidays so far in 2019.
The recent rise in the Turkish Lira exchange rate is a contributor to the increase in both package holiday and flights only bookings this summer. Despite slipping in December 2018 to 6.39 /£1 from 8.43/£1 in August 2018, the value of the Lira is once again exceeding 7.5/£1. In real terms, this brings the cost of a lovely three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant back down to as little as £10.
Popular destinations include Antalya for its ancient ruins, beaches and natural beauty; Marmaris for its historical quarters, Turkish bath and nightlife; Olu Deniz; Bodrum; Hisaronu and Icmeler. Border issues with Syria and Iraq are still contentious which still deters bookings in all but the coastal resorts although some cruise companies are still avoiding the Turkish coastline due to the refugee boat crisis.
Harassment, petty crime and prejudice against women travellers have thankfully taken a back seat in recent years, making Morrocco a more attractive holiday destination. All the same, like most cities, used to an influx of tourists warnings to safeguard your personal belongings still exiting when exploring the bustling souks of Marrakech and Fez are ideal for anyone wishing to immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of Moroccan culture. Coastline destinations such as Agadir and Essaouira are perfect for beach lovers, although exposing to much skin in remote communities is still inadvisable.
Tunisia has also seen a rise in bookings this summer for package holidays and flights. Holiday operators have filtered back into the country since the FCO lifted its travel ban last year, expanding their package holiday options once again on the Mediterranean coastline.
Resorts such as Hammamet, Skanes, Skanes and Sousse, the epicentre of the troubles in 2015 are very much back in demand. Tunisia offers some beautiful sandy beaches, bucket loads of culture and places of significant archaeological draws interest. However, the southern and western Tunisia, especially where the country borders Libya are still no go areas for holidaymakers.
The most significant growth in currency sales so far this year has been for the Egyptian pound despite its low performance in the exchange rate charts. Renowned for their coral reefs and scuba experiences, the red sea resorts of Hurghada and Marsa Alam both feature heavily amongst the tour operator brochures this summer for beach and watersports enthusiasts. For the cultural adventurers, following in the footsteps of the pharaohs to take in some of the many wonders of the world is very much alive. However, travel to specific areas of Egypt is still unrecommended by the FCO and Sharm el Sheikh remains inaccessible by air from the UK for the moment.
Good value further afield
Despite the trouble in many of the countries nearby, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar are both reported to be extremely safe destinations. The opulence and high service levels in Dubai and Doha are attracting more and more visitors every year. Shimmering towers of man-made luxury lure travellers to the cities while the promise of adventure amongst the dunes provides a taste of culture amongst the modernity.
Exchange rates for the Japanese Yen and Thai Baht have both risen recently suggesting that an increase in holidays sales to Asian shores is also increasing. However, the chance of natural disasters in many of the far eastern countries has always been a risk, due to their proximity to the shift tectonic plates, so although travel is not discouraged, proper insurance is a must.
The stunning British Virgin Islands are back on the must-visit destination list for the summer. Now declared a safe zone by the FCO after the devastation by Hurricane Irma, progress in reinstating the infrastructure has been swift and holidays in this unique subtropical paradise are once again available at temptingly reasonable prices.