UK internet searches for flights have fallen a dramatic 42% over the last 12 months, according to latest figures released by Hitwise.
The economic downturn means that consumers are being more cautious when booking flights abroad, says the online competitive intelligence service.USA and Eurozone countries experienced the biggest fall in holiday searches as a result of the weak pound, with travellers opting for cheaper destinations such as Turkey and North Africa, or considering taking their holidays at home.
UK internet searches for flights increased by 58% between the weeks ending 27 December 08 and 3 January 2009, but they were down by 42.4% when compared with the equivalent post-Christmas week last year.
Flights to the USA experienced the biggest annual fall in searches of 52.2%. Searches for flights to countries that use the Euro fell by 44.8%, while searches for flights to the UK and the Rest of the World also fell, but at a smaller rate.
“It looks like the weak pound is putting people off flying to the Eurozone and the USA, and they are looking at destinations with more favourable exchange rates instead,” said Robin Goad, Hitwise’s Director of Research.
There have been big falls in searches for flights to all of the most popular European holiday destinations over the last 12 months: France is down 45.4%, Spain 42.8%, Portugal 41.7% and Italy 41.2%.
Of all the major holiday locations favoured by Britons, Turkey experienced the smallest decline in flight searches over the last 12 months - a fall of 24.6% compared with an average of 42.4% for all destinations.
Australia remains the most popular non-Euro/Dollar destination for British tourists, accounting for almost a quarter of all searches for flights to destinations outside of the UK, USA and Eurozone.
Only five destinations have experienced an increase in flight searches over the last 12 months: Norway, Denmark, Brazil, Morocco and Cuba.
Robin Goad commented: “The two areas that have benefitted most from the Pound falling against the Euro are Scandinavia and the cheaper sunshine destinations. In terms of warmer destinations, the weak pound is encouraging people to look further afield for bargains, with places such as Brazil, Morocco, Cuba, Kenya and India all moving up the rankings over the last 12 months.