Tenerife Playa del Duque Tenerife Tourism Corporation

More than 4.5 million passengers are heading abroad over Christmas and New Year, says ABTA.

Today, December 23,  is the busiest day for travel and Christmas Day is expected to be the quietest day.

The travel association says holidaymakers are either heading off for some much-needed winter sun or to colder destinations to enjoy the snow.  Winter sun lovers are heading short haul to Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, and long haul to Cape Verde, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Goa, with one major travel company reporting a 50% increase in bookings to the Indian coastal state.

ABTA Members are also reporting that many destinations are close to being fully booked.

Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy are the most popular destinations for those looking for a traditional experience in a snowy destination, Iceland too.

Favourite New Year’s Eve breaks include the cities of Dublin, Barcelona, New York and Amsterdam, and in the UK, Edinburgh and London lead the way.

Millions of people are leaving the country through the major airports, all of which are reporting increases in passenger numbers on last year.

The numbers include 638,000 departing from Stansted, 380,000 from Luton, around 130,000 from Bristol, 215,000 from Birmingham and 35,000 from Cardiff.

Hundreds of thousands of passengers are leaving the UK from Scottish airports, with 238,000 travelling through Edinburgh alone, as well as large numbers leaving from other regional airports.

A significant number of people are also travelling across the English Channel by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel, with 180,000 heading off on the Eurostar.

Many are taking the opportunity to take a break in the UK, staying in a country cottage or a seaside resort, and city breaks in London and York have also sold well.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “Christmas and New Year are always a very busy time for the travel industry, with millions of people heading off overseas either to visit friends and family or take a well-earned holiday.

“At certain times, the roads and public transport will be very busy, so we are advising travellers to check in advance and leave extra time to get to the airport if necessary. The weather has also already caused disruption this year and more unsettled weather is heading our way in the lead-up to Christmas so people should keep an eye on the news and make sure they know their rights if their flight is delayed or cancelled.”