Thursday, April 25, 2024

THE ISSUE (ON THE LEFT): Return of consumer confidence in market

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Can Barbados still rely on the British tourism market?

Last year saw a mixed picture from a consumer confidence and sales perspective. The year began with a buoyant traditional peak booking season from January to March with ABTA members reporting high consumer confidence and strong early season sales.

During the year, that confidence softened with a warm, dry summer likely to have had an impact on the “lates” market.

ABTA research showed that there has been a small decline in the percentage of people taking holidays in 2014, with the figure standing at 80 per cent, compared to 83 per cent in 2013. However, this was offset by a small increase in people taking a greater number of breaks abroad.

The average spend in Britain before going on holiday also increased during 2014 from

206 pounds to 224 pounds. The package holiday prospered in 2014, continuing its growth with half of the population taking an overseas package.

The most popular overseas destinations in 2014 for British travellers were Spain, France, Italy, the United States of America (USA), Portugal, Greece, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland. Morocco, Tunisia and Poland also saw an increase in visits by British holidaymakers. A real success story for 2014 was Italy which rose to take the third spot, overtaking the USA, in the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers, according to the Office of National Statistics, due to the popularity of the city and other short breaks.

Consumer confidence is continuing to return slowly to the market and to the UK economy with ABTA members reporting a positive but measured outlook.

Reports indicate that recovery is being driven by more affluent consumers and that the cautious optimism that has characterised recent years is now ingrained as the “new normal” for the rest of the market.

This tentative recovery is reflected in the findings of ABTA’s Consumer Trends Survey which shows that more consumers are planning to spend more on their holidays in 2015 than those looking to cut back; 20 per cent state they will spend more on holidays and only 15 per cent say they are planning to spend less.

In the rest of the market, the search for value rather than the lowest prices is set to continue with holidaymakers making their holidays work hard, looking to combine holidays with wellness, family time, relaxation and new experiences.

A strong pound in 2014 meant that day-to-day expenses for British holidaymakers came down in many favourite destinations and it is likely that this will boost visitor numbers in 2015 with Europe, the USA and Japan likely to benefit.

Italy is expected to remain popular as are other established favourites such as Barcelona and Paris. Eastern European cities should see a boost from holidaymakers looking to try somewhere new and that is also still easily accessible – Instanbul is also hotly tipped. Popular long-haul destinations for 2015 include the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and Thailand.

People have been playing it safe for the last few years with their holiday choices, but research shows that many British holidaymakers are planning to explore new destinations in 2015.

Over a third think they will take a holiday to a country they have never been to before.

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