August holiday sales are soaring as a result of the dismal UK summer, travel firms say.
“Heatwaves are doing nothing to dampen the desire for last-minute breaks,” said Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership.
Bookings through the 750 Advantage travel agency members for August are way ahead of normal levels: they represent 18 per cent of bookings, compared with the usual 4 per cent.
Ms Lo Bue-Said reported that Spain and Greece are the most popular destinations. The average holiday duration is eight nights, with 35 per cent of all bookings for all-inclusive properties.
“The trend we are seeing really does point to the importance Brits place on being able to get away,” she said. “The wet August weather is a key influencer in these last-minute sales and we would always advise booking through an expert travel agent, who is best placed to advise on availability, pricing and peace of mind.”
Typical holiday prices are ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Europe’s biggest travel firm, Tui, said its average selling price is 26 per cent up compared with summer 2019.
Tui added that bookings made in the past week were 5 per cent higher than in summer 2022.
The aviation analyst Cirium reports that August flight departures from the UK are the highest of any month since October 2019 – though still 11 per cent down on August of that year.
As a result there are few August bargains to be found from airports in England and Wales, where school holidays continue until early September.
One of the best deals found by The Independent is from Leeds Bradford to Faro for the last week of August (24-31 inclusive), staying at a self-catering apartment in Albufeira. The price per person for a family of four is £464.
“Cross-border” deals for people in northern England who are prepared to travel to Scottish airports such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick are much cheaper; school holidays in Scotland are about to end.
Tui has flights from Glasgow to Reus, south of Barcelona in Spain, for just £90 return on 19 August for a week.
The steepest increases in flights from the UK this month, according to Cirium, are to Turkey (46 per cent higher than in August 2019) and Greece (up 34 per cent).
Departures to Cyprus, Spain and Italy are down compared with four summers ago.
Demand for returning from the Costa del Sol at the start of September is intense. On the benchmark Malaga-Gatwick route, on one prime departure on easyJet on Saturday 2 September, one seat remains for €591 (£510) one way.