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Thailand is the number one destination for young Britons on a year out after leaving school, new research has revealed.

Australia is the next most popular destination followed by the USA, South Africa and Peru, according to the study by ABTA - the Travel Association. If you come across a backpacker on your airport transfers it seems there is a strong chance they will be heading for Asia, as the continent dominates the list with Vietnam and India taking sixth and eighth positions.

Other popular gap year destinations include Brazil, which came in seventh place, New Zealand in ninth position and Fiji completing the top 10. Travellers using London Stansted Airport and the capital's other busy transport hubs might just be seeing an increased number of gap year travellers right now, given that it is exam results season when youngsters typically head abroad to let off steam and gain new experiences before starting university.

ABTA advises any young people heading off on their travels to visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to check out all the various things to do, and what not to do, in order to stay safe while travelling abroad. Victoria Bacon, head of communications at ABTA, said there is now "an incredible choice of activities and destinations" for young people to choose from to help them develop new skills. "It's very important that if you’re planning a gap year, you research your options thoroughly," she added.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Travellers are jetting out of south-east airports on faith tourism holidays in increasing numbers. But no religious relic can ape the accidental attraction that is now wowing Spanish church-goers in their tens of thousands - the “Monkey Christ”. This disfigured church fresco, now a top tourist destination in Zaragoza is actually the result of a botched restoration job.

Tourists flying out from the likes of London Gatwick and London Stansted can now marvel - or snigger - at something that looks like a scene out of a Mr Bean film. Over 40,000 people have flocked to view amateur artist Cecilia Gimenez's bungled bid to restore a 1930 painting showing Jesus crowned with thorns, since it won global attention last August. This was originally painted by Elias Garcia Martinez at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Borja, Zaragoza. Visitors have so far raised 50,000 euros (£43,000) for charity in entrance fees.

The artist and the local authority are now set to sign a merchandising contract to put the hilarious image on plates, postcards, cigarette lighters and other souvenirs. Zaragoza rests on the Ebro river in a valley with landscapes ranging from desert to thick forest, meadows and mountains. The city is renowned for its folklore, sumptuous local dishes and landmarks such as the Basílica del Pilar, La Seo Cathedral and the Aljafería Palace. The latter two and many other buildings form part of the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

It's easier to enjoy than pronounce, but Zrce Beach will be the focus for travellers to transfer their attentions to during the height of festival season next week. British revellers will be flying out in their multitudes from south-east English airports to the Croatian island of Pag to savour the Sonus festival from August 21-26.

Stars will include Ricardo Villalobos, Luciano, Seth Troxler, Magda, Chris Liebing, Cassy, DJ Sneak and Zip. As well as the festival's impressive line-up; the country's fantastic value for money, turquoise blue water and warm, heavenly beaches and buoyant boat parties should also give music lovers something to dance about.

The beach is also one of Croatia's most widely celebrated festival spots and has become an established setting for electronic music events down the years. Nearby Papaya and Kalypso, both in Europe’s top 20 listed clubs, add to the region’s glowing fun reputation. Next Wednesday's (August 21) Sonus launch party will be hosted by event agencies Cosmopop, which has just recently established itself in Belgium with the Fade In Festival in Brussels, and Sonus d.o.o. Five days and four nights, several boat parties and several pre and post-parties make for an impressive start to this new festival brand.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

An increasing number of holidaymakers are heading overseas without travel insurance, putting themselves and their families at risk.

Research from ABTA shows that one in five Brits have visited a doctor or hospital abroad, something which can land the person concerned with hefty bills if they are not properly covered. Over two in five, meanwhile, think the contents of their suitcase would be worth more than £500 for a two-week holiday - yet many still insist on not purchasing insurance.

In light of the findings, Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, claims more needs to be done to persuade people to take out travel insurance. “Medical bills can run into thousands of pounds, so government must do all that it can to encourage people to take our insurance and make it easy for them to get the right kind of cover for their needs,” he said. This opinion is also shared by 57% of MPs. Not only can travel insurance cover you against medical bills, it can also protect you against lost luggage on flights or airport transfers.

Despite what some people may think, a European Health Insurance Card is not a suitable substitute for travel insurance as it only provides access to basic state medical care and will never cover the costs of repatriation to the UK nor lost or damaged belongings.

Copyright Press Association 2013

Airport travellers are helping to make Iceland and Slovakia among the quickest-growing European destinations for foreign tourists this year, according to new figures. Iceland enjoyed a 30% jump in overseas arrivals from April to June compared to the same quarter last year, while Slovakia experienced a 20% rise.

Expansion was generally strongest in smaller European regions such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe, a report by the European Travel Commission also reported. Montenegro, Latvia, and Croatia, for example, each recorded 9.5% growth, and visitor growth in Hungary and Poland also rose about 7.5%. Of the major European nations, Germany and Spain reported a “healthy” 4% rise.

Editors at Lonely Planet travel experts earlier this summer named Iceland - more specifically northern Iceland - as one of their top European destination picks for 2013. They cited the northern European country's rich natural landscape including dramatic geysers, magnificent mountains, lava fields and towering waterfalls. The Godafoss waterfall, or “Waterfall of the Gods”, is one of the most spectacular in the Mývatn district. Andy Murdock, US digital editor of Lonely Planet magazine, said: “With a small window of affordability and a seeming worldwide need for a long soak in a hot spring, Iceland seems to be on every traveller's mind this year.” Hungary and Croatia were also included among Lonely Planet's top 10 list.

Copyright © Press Association 2013