Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Summer holidays in Spain 2011, book now or wait?

Summer holidays in Spain 2011, book now or wait?



The conumdrum for anyone thinking of taking a summer holiday in Spain is: do I book now – or wait until later and then pick up an ultra-cheap deal?

Obviously, getting a ‘good’ deal on your summer holiday in Spain is important but this year it is more difficult than ever to predict what will happen about the number of people coming to Spain. The latter, of course, will define how good a deal you can get on everything from flights to accommodation and car hire.

Needless to say the past two years has seen a slump in the number of people coming for their holidays in Spain. The current brutal recession has taken its toll on most people’s finances and this has been exacerbated, for Britons, by the past weakness of the £ against the Euro. This has made a significant difference to the affordability of holidays in Spain for anyone using Sterling.

So, what is likely to happen this year – are the tourist figures for Spain going to continue to be ‘soft’ or will the demand for summer holidays in Spain rise?

My instinct is that the tourist figures for Spain this year will rise above what we have seen over the past couple of years. I fear that this will have much less to do with a general sense of wealth and well-being (or even specific desire to come to Spain) – than that other Mediteranean holiday areas are suffering from political disruption.

Certainly, you would have to be brave to book holidays in North Africa at the moment and any Islamic country along the Mediterranean deserves at least some element of caution. After all, no-one could have believed that the present political turmoil would have occurred so suddenly and this brings into question the stability of other countries bordering the Mediterranean that, at present, appear untroubled.

Spain, by comparison, seems ‘rock’ solid. Indeed, it has not even suffered the huge demonstrations (let alone the violence) of last weekend’s riots in London. Indeed, the most serious trouble that I have heard about recently was restricted to a tiny riot that occurred when some fireman demonstrated during the opening of a new fire station!

The initial figures for tourism in Spain seem to indicate that tourism in Spain is on the increase. January and February saw some 5.5 million visitors to Spain and this was a 4.5% increase from last year and is a figure that appears to herald the first rise in tourism to Spain for 18 consequetive months.

What does this mean for you?

Well, on balance, you should probably be looking to book your holidays in Spain sooner rather than later. I suspect that, at least for this year, the brilliant last minute deals available during the past couple years just may not be present as the main holiday season approaches.

If you do book soon then make sure that you do not forget to book your car hire at the same time. Last year, despite the reduced number of tourists coming to Spain, car hire in Spain was a problem for many people. Not only was it expensive during the height of the tourist season but there appears to have been a shortage of vehicles in some popular locations.

Indeed, during July and August, I remember receiving a number of e-mails and calls from people who found, from different areas of Spain, that they could not get a hire car in Spain for ‘love or money’.

Whether true or not, I was told that this was because the car hire companies in Spain had not invested in new fleets (understandable given the state of the economy) and had miscalculated the demand. Either way, there are few things (apart from lousy accommodation) that can disrupt a holiday in Spain, or elsewhere, more than finding that you have no transport!

That said, I guess being unable to book a summer holiday at all (when desperately needed) or finding it exorbitantly expensive would be worse…


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