The first shots of a package holiday price war have been fired today with tour companies offering a host of discounts as they attempt to capitalise on a recovering market. Bookings for the top 20 summer 2010 destinations have increased sharply over the past three months, according to the Co-operative Travel company.

01The Turkish resort of Dalaman has seen an 82 per cent increase in bookings and has taken over from Majorca as the number one holiday destination for UK travellers in 2010. Majorca is in second place, with Orlando in Florida third, the Spanish Costa Blanca fourth and the Greek island of Crete fifth.

Other destinations high on the booking list include Bodrum in Turkey, Ibiza and Larnaca in Cyprus.

Trevor Davis, director of retail distribution at Co-operative Travel, said: “As the holiday sector recovers, the battle for bookers will intensify, with companies seeking to increase their market share after a challenging 12 months.”

Meanwhile, holiday company Thomas Cook launched a new advertising campaign today.

It coincides with a survey by the company that revealed that people put foreign holidays higher in their “must have” list than eating out, home improvements, buying new clothes or UK breaks.

Thomas Cook predicted Turkey would be the in-place to visit in 2010, with Egypt, Majorca, Tenerife and Cyprus all expected to do well too.

Travel agency Going Places said it was launching an early-booking offer for Airtours’ holidays tomorrow.

There will be savings of up to £200 per booking for those booking before 4 February, 2010.

Direct Holidays is offering £100 off prices and child-goes-free deals for those booking before 31 January, 2010, on selected holidays.

The company is also offering an additional £50 off winter 2010-11 breaks for early bookers.

Latest figures from Shearings Holidays reveal that bookings for next year’s UK breaks have increased by more than 95 per cent in some regions, with locations that have been showcased in the latest barrage of British holiday TV shows proving to be among the biggest winners.

Caroline Brown, commercial director for Shearings, said: “Programmes such as John Sergeant On The Tourist Trail, Martin Clunes’ Islands Of Britain and Alexander Armstrong’s Very British Holiday have reignited people’s love of Britain.

“Screen locations are always popular with tourists and the trend for UK holiday programmes has encouraged people to have a closer look at holiday destinations in the UK.”

Meanwhile, another study found that more than half of those who spent their holiday at home in the UK this year are planning on making up for it by flying abroad in 2010.

Fifty-six per cent said they plan on escaping British shores to head for sun, sea and warmer climates next year. Spain, US and France emerged as their desired travel hotspots.

Nick Trend of travel website www.simonseeks.com said: “It reveals a real determination to travel, especially among those who didn’t take a holiday overseas in 2009, but it also made clear that keeping a tight grip on budget was a clear priority for many people.”
Source: Scotsman