Holidaymakers warned Med resorts selling out as tourists shun terror blackspots

HOLIDAYMAKERS planning to head to the Mediterranean this summer have been warned to book up now as terror fears drive tourists away from other previously popular resorts.

Travel agents said hotel rooms and apartments across the region are running out following "notable increases" in reservations for Spain, Portugal and Cyprus as holidaymakers shun North Africa and Turkey following bombings and other attacks by Islamist militants targeted at tourist hotspots.

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) advised would-be travellers not to rely on last-minute deals with bookings to Spain up 22 per cent compared to the same time last year, and bookings for Portugal and Cyprus up 29 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

Demand for destinations such as Tunisia and Egypt has fallen following terrorism incidents, the organisation added, with the UK Foreign Office still advising against all but essential travel to Tunisia and most of Egypt.

Scotland-based tour operator, Barrhead Travel, said it had less than 30 per cent availability left on their exclusive BA charter flights to Mediterranean airports this summer.

The travel agent said its bookings for Spain were up 37 per cent, with demand for Malta, Portugal, Italy all up by around 20 per cent compared to last year.

Sharon Munro, chief executive for Barrhead Travel, said: “Those hoping to book a quick getaway to a Mediterranean destination for summer 2016 will need to book quickly now to avoid disappointment. The increase in seats taken for flights to the likes of Spain and Portugal emphasise just how popular Western Europe has become this year.

“We believe the growth in popularity of these destinations is being driven partly by a drop in demand to traditionally popular destinations like Tunisia and Turkey in 2016.

It emerged earlier this week that there was a 32 per cent drop in package holiday bookings from the UK to Turkey between April 2015 to 2016.

Ms Munro said Scottish holidaymakers were increasingly looking to long-haul destinations to get more for their money, with bookings to Thailand up 51 per cent and Dubai and the USA experiencing 20 and 24 per cent increases respectively.

She added: “Long haul holidays are now proving to be extremely good value-for-money, meaning that many families are heading to the likes of Orlando or Dubai for their summer getaway this year.”

It comes after a Russian passenger jet was blown up over Egypt's Sinai peninsula in October last year by a suspected Isis bomb, believed to have been planted in the hold shortly before take-off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

Mystery also surrounds the loss of an Egyptair plane which was en route from Paris to Cairo when it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea a week ago, amid reports of a fire on board and claims that the damage to the aircraft was consistent with an explosion.

Dozens of holidaymakers, including 30 Brits, were also killed when an Isis gunman opened fire on tourists sunbathing on the beach in the Tunisian resort of Sousse in June last year, before entering the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel where he continued shooting people at random.

Meanwhile, Turkey has come under attack from a spate deadly terrorist bombings by in Ankara and the capital, Istanbul, during the past year.

The warnings to holidaymakers came as pre-inquest hearing in London into the Sousse atrocity heard that travel agents allegedly lowered their prices to try and "entice" more Britons to Tunisia following an attack at the Bardo National Museum in March 2015.

Lawyers for some of the bereaved said the Foreign Office knew this but had not done enough to alert holidaymakers to the potential dangers.

Lawyer for the Government rejected the criticism.



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