The UK was the most popular destination for British travellers this year, with a 10% rise in bookings on Expedia.co.uk over 2010.
The trend towards domestic breaks is due to continue in 2012 as the trend towards “staycations” continues due to the ongoing economic uncertainty, according to global research by the online travel giant.
New activities such as local culinary tours and cooking classes and the rise of local bicycle schemes such as Boris Bikes in London are getting people exploring cities in new ways.
Spain and Turkey saw hotel bookings grow following the outbreak of disturbances in Egypt and across other North African destinations such as Tunisia and Morocco as people looked for alternative holiday locations for guaranteed summer sun close to home.
The Greek Islands, Madeira and the Algarve, Kenya and Eastern European destinations such as Tallinn and Sofia saw hotel booking growth of 25% and Expedia expects these destinations to build on their growing popularity in 2012.
Since the flooding in Bangkok, bookings to the Thai capital dropped substantially in late October. However, the rest of the country continued to see strong growth as travellers flew direct rather than stopping off in Bangkok. Notably by late November, even in Bangkok, weekly bookings were improving once more, according to Expedia.
Swift action by tourist boards, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and investment in marketing has played a significant role in the rapid recovery of destinations such as Japan, Egypt and Morocco.
Expedia UK and Ireland managing director Andy Washington said: “It has been an eventful year for the travel industry and a tough year for certain popular travel destinations, but we’ve noticed time and again that people tend not to forego their annual holiday.
“It’s encouraging to see that Brits are taking advantage of the multitude of attractions closer to home in the UK and embracing staycations.”
He added: “2011 has highlighted the mixed approach to holidaying taken by Brits in troubled times.
“As some are drawn to holidaying at home, others simply look for alternative destinations – with Spain and Turkey particularly growing in popularity during the Arab Spring.
“The other notable trend was deal hunting – with savvy travellers taking advantage of the great deals to be had in destinations like Egypt and Japan as these destinations recover. Yet what’s absolutely clear is our determination to keep our holidays.”
Top 10 holiday destinations in 2011
1 Southern UK regions
3 New York
5 Las Vegas
9 Regional Northern France