The school bells have sounded across the UK, signalling the end of term for kids across the country. And despite the fact that the country is enjoying its best summer weather in years the annual exodus known as the Great British Getaway is now well and truly underway, as millions of tourists flock to airports across the country, sparking what are now almost routine scenes of chaos.
July 25th – aka Black Friday – didn’t pass off without incident this year, as the end of term at schools in the UK sparked a mass dash to get away on holiday, with an estimated 2 million tourists passing through British airports this weekend.
And as you’d expect the system inevitably buckled under the pressure, resulting in nightmare delays at Manchester airport as the third busiest hub in the UK struggled to process over 320,000 passengers and a chronic luggage log jam at Gatwick, thanks to what were described as ‘resourcing issues’ with baggage handlers Swissport. Delays were also experienced across the UK road and rail network, making it an equally grim experience for those choosing to enjoy a staycation.
Passenger volumes were at their highest in the South East, as Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted serviced a combined total of just under one million holidaymakers.
And where were they all headed? Well according to ABTA Spain is the number one destination this summer for British sun-seekers, followed by Greece and Turkey.
This would certainly seem to tally with figures recently released by the Spanish tourist authorities which reveal that the country’s tourist industry enjoyed a real boom in growth during the first half of 2014, particularly to key destinations such as the Canaries and Catalonia.
On Lanzarote for example, where we offer a great selection of villas and apartments for rent in the popular resort of Playa Blanca, passenger numbers have soared by over 15% versus the first half of last year as a total of 1,127,456 foreign tourists took a break on the island. British holidaymakers have been the real driving force behind this growth, accounting for 525,850 arrivals, whilst the Germans, Irish, Dutch and French markets account for 129,935, 99,112, 52,426 and 43,756 visitors respectively.
The local tourist authorities (with self-promoting predictability) have claimed that much of this increase can be attributed to initiatives such as Saborea Lanzarote – a project designed to promote the island as a gastronomic destination – and the positioning of Lanzatote as a sports destination.
But in reality the increases can be more accurately attributed to the greater availability of lower cost flights and new budget services from key metropolitan areas, such as Paris, which have helped to make Lanzarote more accessible and affordable.