Fewer Brits are travelling to EU countries for their summer holidays as the UK’s prolonged Brexit process has encouraged holidaymakers to expand their horizons, according to Thomas Cook.
Both Turkey and Tunisia have benefited from dwindling interest in the EU, the travel agent said today as it revealed close to half of its summer bookings are for countries outside the bloc.
Thomas Cook blamed “political turmoil” from the Brexit negotiations for Brits snubbing traditional holiday hotspots, with non-EU destinations up 10 percentage points to account for 48 per cent of bookings.
The travel firm 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”.
However, Spain remained Thomas Cook customers’ favourite country to visit, followed by Turkey, Greece, the US and Cyprus.
Meanwhile most of the 3,422 survey respondents said they were still more likely to take a trip abroad than they were last year.
Tunisia was also “faring well” as package holidays doubled year on year, after tourism to the country plummeted following the 2015 terrorist attack in Sousse, which claimed the lives of 38 people.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lifted a travel ban against the country last year.
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said it was not yet clear how the latest delay to Brexit, bringing the UK’s departure to 31 October, could affect holidaymakers’ appetite for trips abroad.
“It is too early to say what impact this will now have on consumer confidence,” he said, adding: “There is little doubt that the prolonged uncertainty around the manner and timing of Britain’s exit from the European Union has led many customers to press pause on their holiday plans for this summer.”
Thomas Cook has suffered two profit warnings in the last six months as it experiences falls in holiday bookings.
Will Waggott, chief of tour operating, said that Brits’ desire to holiday abroad is “clear”, but warned: “The political turmoil is having an impact in other ways, revealing itself in a clear shift to non-EU countries.”