Credit crunch dampens UK travel optimism

At present consumers in Britain are wary of spending money on their holidays.A representative survey of the UK commissioned by the ITB Berlin, the global travel industry’s leading trade show, found that despite a consistently healthy economy and booming job market, British holidaymakers are presently less willing to spend money than in previous years.

Higher interest rates and levels of private debt are dampening optimism among British holidaymakers, forcing them to tighten their purses. However, according to a survey by the consumer research organisation GfK Gruppe, commissioned by Messe Berlin, Britons can still be relied upon to travel and spend money in the future. Despite only moderate economic growth in the UK, in 2007 Britons invested more money in holidays than in 2006. According to the findings of the latest ITB Travel Indicator, in 2008 the amount of money spent by Britons on holidays is again likely to rise by three per cent.

The consumer analysts came to similar conclusions in the ITB Travel Indicator for Germany, to be published in mid-October. The re-emergence of inflation fears and the negative effects of a strong euro on export developments had periodically put a damper on German citizens’ willingness to spend money on their holidays. In the mid-term however, according to the consumer survey, this is not stopping German holidaymakers from investing in their “most precious weeks of the year”. According to the forecasts, next year holiday spending by German citizens will rise by four per cent over 2007.

At the 15th World Travel Monitor Forum tourism researchers had warned of being overly optimistic. The global report of the Pisa Forum, organised by IPK International in collaboration with the EU Travel Commission, regarded travel business in the most important markets, Germany and the UK, as somewhat disappointing. Whereas sluggish market behaviour in Germany was attributed to uncertainties over employment prospects and the negative impact of a three percent rise in VAT at the start of the year, stagnation in the UK market was in part blamed on fears that the US subprime crisis could have a negative impact, and on the sharp increase in the Air Passenger Duty. Another factor was a saturation in demand for secondary short breaks using low-cost carriers, and more and more problems associated with travel through UK airports as a result of stepped-up security and immigration checks.

Dr. Martin Buck, Director of the ITB Berlin: “Overall, despite only moderate economic growth in Britain, the UK travel market remains stable, although fears that the US subprime crisis could negatively impact on travel demand in the UK should not be underestimated. Forecasts for next year will no doubt take any bad financial news into the reckoning. All the same, holidays are among British people’s basic needs, and are not easily dispensed with. This is a positive basic attitude from which the international travel industry will benefit once again next year.”


Where travel industry topics are concerned the ITB Berlin is synonymous with providing core expertise in every field. With its ITB Convention Market Trends & Innovations the world’s largest travel trade show is responsible for organising the world’s largest travel industry think tank as well as the ITB Business Travel Days. The ITB Berlin collaborates with numerous travel surveys. The ITB Berlin Travel Indicator in collaboration with GfK first conducted a survey in September 2006. Its aim is to give an up-to-the-minute forecast of tourism demand in Germany, and for the first time it now offers information on the UK market.

The ITB Berlin 2008 will take place from Wednesday, 5 March to Sunday, 9 March and the ITB Convention Market Trends & Innovations 2008 will be held from Wednesday, 5 March to Saturday, 8 March. The Dominican Republic is organising the opening ceremonies which will take place on 4 March 2008. The period from the Wednesday to the Friday is reserved for trade visitors. Next year Messe Berlin will be celebrating a premiere by holding the ITB Asia, which debuts in Singapore from