The last year has been remarkable. It will certainly go down as a year in which people were taken by surprise in many areas - not least the football results! But whilst some may have felt things were being turned on their head, one thing that remained constant was the Great British public's desire to travel. And with over six and a half million British holidaymakers expected to book a holiday between Christmas and the New Year celebrations, 2017 promises to be no different.
The last year was undoubtedly difficult for parts of the travel industry, with certain destinations like Sharm el Sheikh continuing to be unavailable to holidaymakers. However, consumer confidence has been resolute and British holidaymakers are determined to get away - particularly families looking to take that all-important summer holiday.
The Holiday Confidence Index, published this autumn suggested more people are intending to travel abroad in 2017 than they did in 2016. Indeed, our own recent studies have shown that around 13 million people will be researching holiday options between Christmas and New Year alone.
So what are the top holiday destinations in 2017?
Once again, Spain is expected to be top of the tree when it comes to the most commonly visited destinations for UK travellers this year - remaining at the top of the holiday tree as it has since our records began. Near-guaranteed sun, short flights and a wide range of resorts served by UK airports helps to ensure that the British public's love affair with summer breaks in Spain continues.
Our research has also shown that more old favourites - France, Italy and Portugal - will join Spain in the top 10 destinations people head to this year, while the US, Canada and Caribbean are the most likely destinations for those looking to go further afield.
And while destination and price are undoubtedly two of the key considerations when people look to book their holiday, it's also important they know if they are covered if their travel company fails - a scenario that happened 12 times in 2016.
How to travel safely
At the CAA, we run the ATOL scheme to protect holidaymakers against their travel company collapsing - you may have heard the words "ATOL protected" at the end of TV adverts. Essentially, the scheme ensures you can continue your holiday and return home at no extra cost if your travel company collapses while you're abroad, and if you're yet to travel, you can get a full refund. It covers any holiday involving flights when you book with a UK company.
Thankfully, only a minority of the more than 20 million people protected by ATOL every year experience a travel company collapse. If you're unlucky enough to be in that group, it can have a big impact. So anyone looking to book a package holiday over the festive period should spend just a tiny bit of extra time looking at whether the holiday you are thinking of booking is ATOL protected.
Holiday booking trends
Of course not everyone will be booking their flights and hotel together as an ATOL protected package. How people book and who with continues to evolve. Business models change and new technology creates new opportunities.
Choice is good for consumers and it's great if people have the option to book a package or get their own flights, and then book villas, or use accommodation sites separately. It adds to the richness of the mix. But this only works if people fully understand when they will be protected and when they won't be. So it's really important travel companies are transparent and make it clear to consumers what protection is in place, particularly as the market becomes increasingly more diverse and complex.
We know transparency is important for holidaymakers. No-one wants to be misled into paying more than they need to for instance. People need to know the full picture when booking, so they can make an informed decision before they hand over their hard-earned money.
With over a million holidays a day set to be booked between Christmas and the New Year, we're now in a feverishly busy booking season. As soon as Christmas dinner is finished, British holidaymakers are looking to book their next, well-earned break. They can benefit from the huge choice that's out there. And if you're looking to bag some summer sun yourself this week, remember to shop around, read the small print and check you'll be covered if something goes wrong.Suggest a correction