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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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IF you want a bargain short-haul summer holiday, grab it and go before the end of May.

That’s the advice from agents and operators who confirm prices are sliding for the six-week run-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Mark Attwell, managing director at Dealchecker.co.uk, says: “In this market, booking at short notice will usually secure the best deal.

“To be exact – you’ll get the cheapest price on a package holiday if you can hold off booking until one month before, although you run the risk of your holiday selling out.

“For example, an average seven-night break to Spain in May was £300 if you booked last November. Now the same holiday is available for £200.”

Maria Whiteman, chief executive at Directline Holidays, says: “I didn’t expect short-haul prices to drop in May because most operators – especially Thomas Cook – dramatically slashed capacity in expectation of a tough year.

“In fact, there are some amazing prices in May, some made possible by bedbanks working with local carriers offering cheap flights.

“Trading has been tough in the last month, so seven-night all-inclusives in four-star resorts in Corfu and Turkey start at around £300, with great value self-catering weeks in Greece, Majorca and Ibiza at £150 to £170.”

On the Algarve coast of Portugal, Directline Holidays offers seven nights’ self-catering on the Greek island of Rhodes starting at £161, from Gatwick on May 2; and seven nights’ all-inclusive at four-star apartments in Dalaman, Turkey, leads in at £266.

Corona Holidays offers seven nights’ self-catering in four-star aparthotel in the resort of Santa Eulalia, Ibiza, from £185, leaving recently modernised London Southend airport on April 28.

Directline Holidays also confirms rising interest in nearby city breaks, with Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Dublin and Amsterdam doing well, typically in the £150 to £170 bracket.

Whiteman says bookings at Directline Holidays jumped when it launched a staggered deposit initiative: £25 down on reservation, the rest of the deposit after five weeks and the final payment within 10 to 12 weeks of departure.

“Our system means people can take the deposit from two successive pay packets,” says Whiteman.

On the Beach offers seven nights’ half-board in Gumbet, Turkey, from £189, departing Luton on April 29; and seven nights’ self-catering on Gran Canaria from £191, leaving from Luton Airport on April 30.

Joel Brandon-Bravo, managing director at travel resource website Travelzoo, says: “An all-inclusive five-star week in Rhodes cost £399 last year but prices are now around £249.

“The very best prices are in early May, which opens the Greek summer season. Many deals include added extras, such as room and board upgrades or complimentary golf and spa treatments.”

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