Summer 2019 holiday package prices in the turn of year peaks have been slashed by more than a third in a bid to attract early bookings, it is claimed.

Rates are down by as much as 36% for a week in the Portuguese Algarve to encourage people who tend to book last minute to grab a bargain now, according to holiday price comparison site TravelSupermarket.

The firm, which compares package holidays across 25 providers, examined the cost of summer packages on offer this time last year with those currently on offer.

The median price per person per night to the Algarve for seven nights in summer 2018 was £50.80 against £32.62 for this summer. A week’s self-catering starts at £114pp based on a Luton departure on May 9.

Many prices across key destinations in the Mediterranean are also lower than those on offer this time last year, including: Zante, down 31%; Costa Brava, down 28%; Costa del Sol, down 17%; Majorca, down 13%; Costa Dorada, down 9% and Crete and Corfu, down 7%.

Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator at the site, said operators are keen to do all they can to counteract what happened with the lates market last summer.

“You get two main types of holiday maker; those who book in advance and take advantage of the best availability and those who are not so fussed about where they go and are happy to book last minute in the hope of getting a deal,” she said.

“There are currently seven night, three-star self-catering holidays to the Algarve, the Costa Brava and Crete this May from the UK, flights and accommodation included, from as little as £105pp self-catering or from £181pp for a week’s all-inclusive holiday.

“There are also holidays for families with school-age children in the middle of the school holidays for as little as £214pp, which is unheard of in peak season.

“These unbelievably low prices are what you might see last minute on offer in June or September to a few places but rather than just be available for a few holidays, they are currently available for many.

“After last year’s prolonged heatwave, tour operators will not want to be left with lots of stock in the summer so are appealing to those late deal hunters to snap up these bargains early. These holidays have been priced to ensure that they are within as many people’s reach as possible.

“The prices are to appeal to those people who holidayed at home last summer and may have spent more than they expected to. The outbound travel industry will also be hoping for a cooler summer this year.”

She added: “Air Passenger Duty on short haul flights has also been frozen for this year. So, this will be helping to keep holiday prices down.

“Despite the current uncertainty around a deal or no deal [Brexit], it is in Europe’s interest to put reciprocal flying agreements in place.

“Brits are a prized possession to many EU countries like Spain and Greece who rely on Brit holiday custom. After France, Brits are the largest group of visitors to Spain. But, for anyone concerned about Brexit, I would encourage people to book a package holiday, rather than go DIY with their flight and hotel as it ensures legal and financial protection if anything goes wrong.

“We also expect Turkey and Bulgaria to be popular this summer, due to the amount of lira and lev available for your sterling and for all-inclusive holidays to do well as they enable people not to have to worry about currency fluctuations for food and drink.

“Eating out in Portugal tends to be even a bit cheaper than in Spain, so with holiday prices as low as they are, the country should be one of the summer’s travel industry successes.

“The western shores of the Red Sea in Egypt are also offering some good deals this year and, as a result, are seeing more Brits returning there.

“The number of people comparing holiday prices on our site started to rise as the Queen’s Speech started on Christmas Day, has continued to rise for a fortnight and we expect it to peak this Sunday as the back-to-work blues really hit home.

“The rest of January will also be busy as holidaymakers continue to compare prices and try and snap up holidays, which they then have to time to save for and look forward to.”

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