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Britons to flood abroad in record numbers as school gates slam shut

Holidaymakers have been warned to expect busy roads, ports and airports.

A record 2.4 million British travellers are expected to head overseas this weekend as schools close their gates for the summer holidays, Abta said.

The travel trade association warned holidaymakers to expect busy roads, ports and airports as passenger numbers swell.

Spain remains the top destination for UK travellers, with the Balearic and Canary islands leading the way, while bookings to Portugal, Greece, Italy and France are also strong, ABTA said.

Motorists are being warned to expect delays this weekend as almost nine million vehicles embark on the start of the summer getaway (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The Mediterranean still dominates the family market, but the association’s members reported strong growth for Bulgaria and Croatia for those seeking summer sun.

Destinations popular with those travelling further afield include Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, with Florida keeping its spot as the number one long-haul family choice.

European cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam are leading the way as city break destinations for families seeking culture and architecture.

Rome is a popular destination (Claudio Peri/AP)

But Abta said domestic bookings are also healthy, with travel agents and tour operators reporting strong demand to the West Country and seaside resorts.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “This weekend is the traditional curtain-raiser for the family summer holidays and I am delighted to report that record numbers will be heading off on holiday this weekend.”

But he warned: “With so many people travelling, the roads, public transport and ports will be exceptionally busy so we would recommend that people factor a little extra time into their travel plans to avoid any stress or disappointment.”

Around half a million passengers are expected to be leaving Heathrow Airport this weekend (Steve Parsons/PA)

More than 500,000 passengers are expected to jet off from Heathrow, with another 335,000 flying out of Gatwick, 136,000 from Stansted and 85,000 from Luton.

Some 150,000 are due to depart from Manchester, 70,000 from Birmingham and 55,000 from Bristol, while more than 100,000 travellers due to fly from Scottish airports, with 70,000 from Glasgow alone.

The channel tunnel is also expected to be busy, with 58,000 holidaymakers reported to be heading off to Paris and the South of France on Eurostar over the weekend.

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