New figures released today by VisitEngland from the United Kingdom Tourism Survey show that holiday trips taken by UK residents in England in the first six months of 2009 are up by 14%, while outbound travel saw a 17% drop.
That amounts to 2.6 million more holiday trips and more than 9.1 million extra nights holiday taken from January to June 2009 over the same period of 2008.
Though the total amount spent on overnight travel since January is down by 1% when including visiting friends and family and business travel – a sector that continues to suffer – leisure travel in England shows definite signs of consumer optimism, with an increase in spend of 5% - confirming 2009 as the summer of ‘holidaying at home’.
Further, VisitEngland focus group research, undertaken in August, indicates that attitudes to domestic travel are undergoing change. Respondents admit to often knowing more about foreign destinations than those in their home country and claim to have a genuine yearning to experience and learn more about the regions of England.
The research goes on to suggest that a ‘lost generation’ of young people confess to feeling almost embarrassed at the lack of knowledge of their own country. While older groups cited unfavourable exchange rates as the trigger for sparking interest in rediscovering classic England hotspots, as well as seeking out ‘off the beaten track’ lesser known regions.
James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland is pleased with the continuing trend and cautiously optimistic about the future for English tourism.
‘England is back in fashion as Brits are rediscovering the diversity and appeal of the English holiday. It’s a trend that we’ve seen developing over the course of the last few years and one which we intend to nurture with the help of the tourism industry.
‘We know that people are looking for experiences tailored to their interests, be it a spiritual retreat, an adventure holiday or a chic weekend break – they are now realising that England can deliver all that and more.
VisitEngland’s Enjoy Every Minute; Enjoy England television campaign has been on air since 8 September to encourage short breaks and day trips this autumn. The campaign has already reached 61%, circa 30 million, of the adult population in England.
‘Cleary there are businesses out there still suffering, particularly those in the conference and events market so we are certainly not out of the woods. As an industry this is the time to pull together and ensure that when the economic circumstances and exchange rates change, we have a robust strategy in place to ensure that England destinations continue to attract new and repeat visitors,’ said James Berresford.