Go west, young holiday-maker

Even communist Cuba is not being left out of the tour operators' quest for ever more exotic locations. Jeremy Atiyah on what's big this year

IF YOU take any notice of an industry that only knows of two conditions, boom or bust, you will be glad to know that the travel industry says bookings for summer 1997 are booming. And if you are waiting to know where everybody else is going to be this summer before making up your mind, there are a few early indicators of where the crowds are (and aren't) going to be.

One thing that is clear is that more and more people are following the big tour operators and heading west. A lot of people who would not previously have strayed away from the Mediterranean are now looking further afield, partly because peak season in Europe equals low season in the Caribbean. Florida remains the most popular long-haul destination by a wide margin, with over half-a-million visitors from the UK. But probably a quarter-of-a-million people are going to the Dominican Republic this year as well, which means, for the first time, that Thomson Holidays (for one) are taking more people to the Caribbean island this year than to Florida.

"The Dominican Republic is such good value compared with other Caribbean destinations such as Barbados," explains Carol Bailey of Thomson Holidays. "And although a few years ago we still had problems with the basic tourist infrastructure, those early problems have now been ironed out. Another thing is that all-inclusives are now as popular for families with children as they are for young couples and singles."

The success of destinations such as the Dominican Republic reflects the relentless rise of the all-inclusive holiday in the Caribbean. Mexico is also experiencing a meteoric all-inclusives boom, with the two (highly un-Mexican) resorts of Cancn and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific taking the majority of bookings. Even Cuba, one of the last bastions of the communist world, is now being descended upon by big tour operators establishing their all-inclusive resorts. The only place where it is possible that there might be signs of a backlash against the all-conquering all-inclusive tide is Jamaica, where the tourism experience, for tourists and locals alike, seems to be suffering under the cultural impact of it all.

The popularity of the Caribbean region is perhaps odd given that it is not an ideal summer destination: it rains a lot and the threat of hurricanes grows through August and September. The sunny Mediterranean can rest assured, however: its beaches will not be empty next year.

Summer sun brochures for the Mediterranean were issued much earlier this year and bookings are correspondingly much further advanced. According to Lunn Poly's estimates for the summer of 1997, which are based on bookings made by all its UK agents, by far the biggest single resort destination for British tourists will continue to be the Balearic island of Majorca, with Turkey coming up on the outside. As well as the Balearics and Turkey, the Canaries retain their undiminished popularity, as a cheap year-round destination.

While the beaches at Palma Nova, Olu Deniz and Las Americas will be seething as never before, those in Cyprus and Greece will continue to look a little empty, particularly when it comes to British visitors. Cyprus has political problems while Greece, until this year, had become rather expensive, though with a weaker drachma it is set to improve on the disastrous performance of the last two years.

If you have not booked anywhere this year on the supposition that you are going to pick up a last-minute bargain, beware: desperate price-cutting may be a thing of the past. Big operators such as Thomsons have announced that prices will rise as the season approaches, to avoid the situation of having to cut prices to fill seats later.

And for travellers heading further afield? South Africa and Australia are not quite destinations for mass tourism yet, with a large proportion of British visitors still VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives), though with air fares to Australia at an historic all-time low - pounds 400 return tickets are now available from Austravel - young independent travellers are catching their opportunity to explore the southern hemisphere.

Charlotte Hindle of Lonely Planet feels that for independent travellers Africa is the up-and-coming area: "People are looking for new continents. South-east Asia and South America have been thoroughly explored but Africa is still unknown. Countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Ethiopia are going to see a lot more visitors, I think." The lure of the Caribbean is also having an effect on independent travellers, with Lonely Planet's Cuba book outselling all their other titles at travellers' fairs this year.

Meanwhile the foreign country which British tourists will visit in the largest numbers will continue to be, as it always has been, France. Why then do French resorts not show up in the league tables of popular resorts? Presumably because visitors to France know best how to hide themselves away.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform