Easter exodus for sun-starved Brits
Around 1.7 million Britons will escape the continuing cold to holiday abroad this Easter.
Many have snapped up last-minute offers to get away from one of the coldest March months on record.
While those staying at home will see little let up in the wintry conditions, the getaway crowd will be heading for such spots at the Canary Islands, Majorca, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey.
Top city break destinations are Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York, said UK travel organisation the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta). France and Austria are the most-popular ski-destination countries.
It added that in the period from Thursday to Tuesday April 2, a total of 600,000 will leave from Heathrow Airport, 214,00 from Gatwick, 110,000 from Manchester, 110,000 from Stansted and 55,000 from Luton. Scottish airports will see more than 100,000 departures.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many Brits are desperate for some sunshine. We've seen a surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations and ski lovers are also in for a treat with some of the best snow conditions seen for years."
A total of 98,000 are due to take off with British Airways on Thursday, with the airline's most-popular long-haul destinations being New York, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Gatwick Airport listed Barcelona, Geneva and the southern Spanish city of Malaga as its top destinations.
For those remaining in the UK, the Highways Agency has completed more than 600 miles of roadworks in time for Easter, while a further 90 miles of works will be suspended between Thursday and April 2. However a number of works will still be in place, including a section of the M1 near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire as well as a part of the M4 near Reading in Berkshire.
Around 6% of Britons plan to have a trip in their own country including at least one overnight stay over Easter, VisitBritain said. This is likely to generate around £600 million for the UK economy. A further 10% are undecided about whether to take a break, with many waiting to see if the wintry weather relents. VisitBritain said that around 12% of Britons had committed themselves to day trips over the holiday period, with a further 29% saying they "might get out" over Easter.
Hotels.com reported huge rises by Britons in searches on the internet for possible trips to Corfu and Rhodes. Other popular spots include Orlando in Florida, Agadir in Morocco, Mexico City and the Mexican resort of Cancun.