Following an unusually cold and prolonged winter, UK consumers are turning to the internet to research weather forecasts in nearby holiday destinations as they seek out short breaks and holidays in the sun.

According to Hitwise, the online intelligence service, searches for ‘weather’ and ‘forecast’ frequently form part of destination searches driving traffic to the online travel sector. Among the most popular destination search terms driving traffic to online travel websites in the four weeks ending 20th May 2006, ‘cyprus,’ ‘tenerife,’ ‘malaga,’ ‘cyprus’ and ‘spain’ were all regularly combined with the term ‘weather.’

“The cold, unseasonable weather seems to be influencing online search behaviour, driving consumers to search for weather in popular short-haul destinations,” said Heather Hopkins, Director of Research for Hitwise UK. “Searches that combine a destination and the keyword ‘weather’ have proved popular in recent weeks, as consumers eager to escape the inclement weather research holiday destinations.”

The most popular weather-related destination search terms driving traffic to travel websites in the four weeks ending 20th May 2006 were ‘weather in turkey,’ ‘weather in cyprus,’ ‘weather in egypt,’ ‘spain weather,’ ‘majorca weather’ and ‘rome weather.’ It is interesting that UK internet users are less interested in weather conditions in long-haul destinations, such as Australia, New York or Florida, which rank among the top 10 most searched for travel destinations.

"Short-haul destinations may be more sensitive to weather patterns due to the level of planning required for the trip and uncertainty over weather conditions”, continued Hopkins. “Long-haul trips are typically planned long in advance, with consumers booking flights now for trips in the fall or winter. Also, consumers may have more confidence in the weather outlook for Florida and Australia than for short-haul destinations.” is the top travel website in the UK receiving traffic from weather related destination searches. In the four weeks ending 20th May 2006, the site received 17.0% of traffic from the search term ‘weather in turkey,’ 11.1% of traffic from ‘holiday weather,’ 18.9% of traffic from ‘weather in Egypt,’ and 14.5% of traffic from searches for ‘weather in Bulgaria.’ In all, 12 of the top 100 search terms sending traffic to in the four weeks ending 20th May 2006 were weather-related.

"While Expedia is capitalising on the opportunities to attract website visits through weather-related searches, other major travel websites are not targeting weather-related destination searches to the same extent. This may in part be due to concerns among online marketers that consumers making such searches are not at the right stage of the decision making process and are less likely to convert. Travel companies often find that inclement weather leads to a surge in travel bookings. With the unreliable British summer weather, Expedia’s experiment may well be worthwhile", added Heather Hopkins.