It could be the great weather the UK has enjoyed this spring, it could be that people want to see more of what their own country has to offer – but more likely the economy is the reason why a lot less holidays are going to be taken abroad by the British this year.
Recently released figures indicate that the number of people taking overseas holidays this year could drop by as much as six percent – and that was before the Bank of England issued a warning that the UK economy was likely to be worst than expected in the year ahead.
Thomas Cook Holidays have issued a warning that it’s 2011 results were likely to be lower than last year’s – which were hit by the volcanic ash cloud that grounded flights in Europe – and there could be some good bargains to be had in the coming weeks if they cut their prices to entice people to take a holiday abroad.
Thomas Cook’s spokesman said at the beginning of the recession that people would cut their spending on cars, home improvement, clothes and weekend breaks before they would consider dropping their fortnight holiday to places like Menorca, but that doesn’t seem to be the case – perhaps because the recession has lasted so long with no real light at the end of the tunnel.
And the tour operator believe this still to be the case, commenting recently that ‘A summer holiday is still very much a priority for British people. A large proportion are still looking to book a holiday for this summer.’
One trend at the moment for islands like Menorca is to see their visitors cut down on the amount of time spent on a summer holiday. Traditionally two weeks was the favourite duration, but increasingly the hotels in Menorca are taking a lot of ten night bookings, saving tourists some money but allowing them still to visit.
There’s less disposable income available for British families in the year ahead, as inflation outstrips pay rises, and rising taxes reduces the affordability of holidays abroad – at one time before the banking crisis in 2008 it was becoming increasingly fashionable to take three or four holidays abroad, with a mix of two week, mid week and long weekend breaks, allowing the travel industry to expand, so optimism from tour operators might be based on what they hope will happen rather than what is likely with the current economic conditions in the UK.
As well a move towards shorter time away, where people are choosing to go is changing too. Menorca, Majorca, the Canaries and Greece are all experiencing an increased share of the market, but this could have more to do with the troubles recently in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia – with Turkey being too close to comfort for some to countries like Syria.
For those who have decided to venture abroad this year – and the number of seats left on summer flights to Menorca seems to suggest there are still a good but smaller number – there’s a move away from self catering to all inclusive holidays. All inclusive contains costs for holidaymakers, and in 2012 First Choice will be offering nothing but this, a sign that the tour operators feel the recession will be here for a little while yet.
In May there were some very good deals to be had for villa holidays. For example James – Britain’s leading villa company – were offering a three bedroom two bathroom in Cala en Porter for little over £600 including flights – excellent value for those who like villa holidays in Menorca.
The tour operators can argue as much as they like that people won’t forego their holidays, but in recessionary times and little credit around they probably will. One analyst told a leading UK newspaper that there appears to be some tangible evidence that UK consumers are giving up their holidays.
For those who do decide to venture abroad this summer, there’s certainly some great bargains to be found.
More details about the island including the weather in Menorca is available at yourmenorca.net
More travel analysis will appear on the blog soon.