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Travel insurance a must for 3 million Brits having Christmas abroad

24 December 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
More than three million Brits will be heading abroad this Christmas for some winter sun or snow, travel association ABTA has found, despite the economic downturn putting the squeeze on household finances.

Christmas and New Year is a traditional time for going away, and the figures reflect that about the same number of Brits will be on holiday for Christmas this year as they were for Christmas 2007.

Many will be taking advantage of Europe's early snow this year and hitting the slopes, with Geneva proving to the most popular Alpine destination for UK skiers.

But with freezing temperatures in the UK over recent weeks, finding some winter sunshine is the priority for most Brits abroad this Christmas, with many seeking out warmer climes such as Tenerife, Egypt, and the Caribbean.

The busiest days for travelling this side of Christmas Day are Friday 19 and Saturday 20, but even busier than those days will be Saturday December 27th as thousands of Brits seek out exciting destinations to bring in the New Year, such as Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Athens, and New York City.

The majority of winter travellers will leave through BAA airports, with 1.1 million leaving through Heathrow, 500,000 through Gatwick, 250,000 through Stansted, and thousands others will be flying out of Southampton, Glasgow, Manchester and Luton.

But not everyone will be taking to the skies, as 200,000 will travel over or under the English Channel and a further 210,000 will take the Eurostar to their destination.

"Holidays – especially at this time of year – are considered to be so much more than a luxury." said Justin Fleming, president of ABTA. "They provide a valuable time to unwind and spend quality time with family."

The study follows the release of conflicting research by the Office of National Statistics, which has said that October's tourism figures reveal substantial falls in the number of people travelling in and out of the UK this year. BAA also announced a nine per cent decline in the number of passengers using its airports compared to last year as the credit crunch takes hold, forcing consumers to cut back on luxuries such as foreign travel, and the weakening pound makes it cheaper to stay at home.

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