Britons may be set to buck the trend for short-haul holidays this summer, as more of us begin planning our great escapes to far-flung destinations such as Thailand, Cuba and the USA.
The Maldives and Thailand are also fast becoming popular getaways this year as the tidal wave of holiday-makers planning their 2014 summer escape begins to gather momentum.
They join Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates as the destinations many are travelling to for a much needed holiday, suggesting Britons are willing to trek to further corners of the earth for their annual break, according to travel company Kuoni.
Their sales saw Vietnam move from 23rd to 14th in their list of best-selling destinations between 2011 and 2013, while Mexico went from 29th to the 17th during the same period.
In pictures: Top ten long-haul holiday destinations
In pictures: Top ten long-haul holiday destinations
1/10 1. Maldives
Why do people go? The Indian Ocean archipelago is a perennial favourite among honeymooners seeking blissful beaches and, crucially, seclusion. With scores of private islands to chose from, and a notable absence of kids’ clubs on many, this is tropical hideaway territory. And those almost implausibly perfect beaches – talc sands and sea turtles paddling below the waterline – make the Maldives a once-in-a-liftetime escape from reality.
2/10 2. Thailand
Why do people go? This seductive South-east Asian nation welcomes visitors with beatific smiles, divine cuisine and affordability. Luxury comes at a fraction of the price of other Asian countries, while backpackers can play out 'The Beach' fantasies on a shoestring budget. Days spent splashing about in emerald-green waters and evenings back on shore indulging in Thai massage, fragrant curries and ice cold Chang beer – what could be better? And when the islands and beaches have been exhausted, there are golden temples and wildlife-rich hill country to explore.
3/10 3. Sri Lanka
Why do people go? For a beach holiday with cultural frills. Sri Lanka has a little bit of everything: laid-back golden beaches, surf breaks, dazzling wildlife, piquant cuisine, tea plantations, Buddhist temples, ancient citadels, graceful colonial architecture and a vibrant capital. And it’s possible to experience most of that on a two-week holiday.
4/10 4. United Arab Emirates
Why do people go? For beaches and sunshine without the hassle of a long-haul flight. There’s only a four-hour time difference to contend with and you can fly there in under seven hours, so short breaks are viable without the anxiety of jetlag or losing days to travel-time. The watchwords here are sun, sand, sea and shopping. Culture is much further down the agenda: a Louvre and Guggenheim are in development in Abu Dhabi, but are years off completion.
5/10 5. USA
Why do people go? Geographical diversity, culture and wide open spaces. The big lures are New York for shopping, Florida for Mickey Mouse and California for, well, pretty much everything you could possibly want from a holiday, including fantastic wine. And, just in case you’re wondering: no foreign language skills required, and the food is supersized.
6/10 6. Mauritius
Why do people go? Because they’re in love. Couples converge on this Oxfordshire-sized Indian Ocean island to make the most of warm seas, sandy beaches and complex spa offerings delivered by the luxury resorts that line the coast. For local fizz, visit bustling Port Louis to experience the island’s peculiar African/Indian cultural mash-up. For nature, try Black River Gorges National park. And always remember the tragic history of the dodo, now commemorated on Mauritius’s currency and flag.
7/10 7. Malaysia
Why do people go? Because they find it difficult to make decisions. Kuala Lumpur is the travel hub that lures many travellers en route to elsewhere, or those keen to sample the nation’s culture and cuisine. Here the Petronas towers stand as a beacon of South-east Asian confidence. For something more off-the-beaten track, the Malaysian Borneo offers astonishing jungle terrain and stunning beaches.
8/10 8. Cuba
Why do people go? The only outpost of communism in the western hemisphere is a nation caught in time, and Havana is the most extraordinary city in the Caribbean, if not the world. The crumbling architecture and vintage American cars are being spruced up, but Cuba’s revolutionary history still captures the imagination. Oh, and if that doesn’t do it for you, Varadero and Guardalavaca are resort towns that deliver much the same experience as you’d be able to find anywhere else with a Caribbean climate.
9/10 9. Antigua
Why do people go? Direct flights from the UK make this an easily accessible part of the Caribbean, with virtually guaranteed sunshine. Nelson’s Dockyard offers a glimpse of the British colonial past, but the big reasons to be here are the beaches, the snorkelling, the windsurfing, and the golf. Familes can get enough of the place: kids clubs and all-inclusives rule.
10/10 10. Singapore
Why do people go? En route to Australia. Singapore is the ideal stopover destination. Adjust your bodyclock, acclimatise to the heat, stretch your legs and pack in a couple of days of Asia-in-a-nutshell. There’s air-conditioned shopping, the cuisines and cultures of Chinatown and Little India, verdant gardens, a resort island, treetop walks in the forest and gleaming colonial architecture repurposed as boutiques and design-focused hotels. And for longer stays, Malaysia and Indonesia are close at hand.
A survey by Travel Supermarket also highlighted a drop in the number of people expecting to visit European destinations such as Spain for their holiday (12 per cent vs 14 per cent between 2013 and 2014), and noted America was among the most sought after holiday locations of 2014. This follows an increase in the amount people will spend on average for a holiday, which is currently £1,076 per person - up by £41 on the previous year.
In a separate survey, The Post Office said the cost of holidaying in Jamaica, Japan and the Gambia has decreased by over 30 per cent, while Bali was ranked the cheapest destination to travel to in 2014. Its report predicted emerging countries that will prove popular with tourists this year are likely to be Burma, Qatar and the Philippines.
Kuoni credited the growing trend to head further for a short break on increasing developments and investment in tourism on countries such as Vietnam. Managing director Derek Jones said: "Vietnam has seen huge developments in its tourism industry over the last few years, with investment in a wide choice of hotels and sightseeing options.
"Access to the country has become much easier since Vietnam Airlines launched direct flights from the UK in 2011 and we're now seeing the impact of that. We expect to see it move into our top 10 this year for the first time."
Kuoni's best-selling destinations for 2014 based on advance sales until the end of January are as follows:
3. Sri Lanka
4. United Arab Emirates