Tuesday 29 July 2014

Tourism... Back on track?

The signs of an economic recovery are everywhere. Apparently we are back where we were before the long recession started.

Despite the need to keep borrowing, the Chancellor is in a buoyant mood. Even the International monetary fund has raised its estimate of UK growth from 2.8% to 3.2%.

Raised confidence generally leads to increased spending and travel is one area that should benefit.

According to our National statistics, UK residents took 58 million trips abroad in 2013 compared to 56 million the previous year.

There’s still a way to go before the pre-recession total of 69 million, but the signs are hopeful. Trips taken in the first quarter of 2014 were 8.7% higher than in the first quarter of 2013. And Heathrow coped with 6.6 million passengers in June, despite capacity problems. Ryan Air have just revealed bumper profits and Easy Jet have increased their capacity in Gatwick by 16%.

An area of concern is the tendency of people to book late and the promotion of late discounted deals by price comparison advertisers like Secret Escapes encourages this trend. Their ad spend in the last twelve months hit £3 million. Other discounters like Hotel.com were active too. Even conventional tour operators publicly advertise discounts where once they would be more discreet.

Over capacity is one problem. Stay vacations are another. The speed at which some countries switch from being deemed safe to dangerous is also a factor. Egypt’s tourism business is still suffering from the Arab spring revolution.

Perhaps tour operators should adopt the discounting habits of some airlines who offer better deals to early bookers.

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