ABTA criticises £5m gov ad campaign

ABTA criticises £5m gov ad campaign

As the Government today launches a £4m advertising campaign to encourage Brits to holiday at home this year, the campaign might fall on deaf ears according to the results of a YouGov poll commissioned by ABTA – The Travel Association.

The poll shows that nearly two thirds of consumers (65%) do not think the Government should spend money on trying to influence where people choose to holiday. A further 14% of consumers are undecided, with just over 1 in 5 (21%) supporting the Government spending money on this.

Interestingly, female consumers, who previous research* has shown tend to be the ones who decide on the destination for the family holiday, feel more strongly about the campaign with 71% opposing it compared to 59% of males.

Other findings of the poll also suggest that the campaign may have limited influence over consumers. When it comes to looking for inspiration for their holiday destination, recommendations by family and friends and travel company websites and brochures are the most likely to inspire.  Only 4% of people who go on holiday said that they would be inspired by government advertising.

The ABTA YouGov survey also revealed that British holidaymakers are more likely to look forward to a foreign break (42%) than a domestic one (16%) reinforcing Britain’s desire to ‘get away from it all’. 41% of respondents look forward to both types of holiday equally.

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Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “2012 is a year for Britain to shine and there are some fantastic events and places to visit for people choosing to holiday in the UK. However, I don’t think the Government needs to spend £4m of our money telling us that we’re having the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. It is clear that the majority of Brits are strongly opposed to the Government spending taxpayer money on telling them where to go on holiday. British holidaymakers should be free to make their own choices and enjoy the variety the world has to offer without Government interference.  ABTA also believes it is wrong to assume that holidaying at home is better for the economy than holidaying abroad. Foreign travel creates a huge amount of jobs and taxes in the UK as well as giving an incredible boost to the high street*. This is a misguided use of public funds at a time when so many other areas of the economy are in urgent need of support.”

Amanda Wills, Managing Director, Virgin Holidays said:  “These poll results don’t come as a surprise. In these challenging times, deciding where to take a holiday is one of the few pleasures – and choices - left to Britain’s hard working population. This campaign further undermines an industry which contributes billions to the Treasury’s coffers each year. It also isolates the UK at a time when the country should be opening its arms. Surely, during what will be a very international summer, we should be encouraging people to go out and embrace the world, exploring the destinations they’ll hear so much about and broadening their horizons in the process – rather than limiting them to the borders of these islands.”

David Burling, MD of TUI UK & Ireland, which owns holiday companies Thomson and First Choice, said: “We are not surprised that the majority of Brits look forward most to a foreign holiday. On an overseas holiday you are getting away from everything, enjoying new experiences and a break from the routine and this allows people to spend real quality time with their families.  As highlighted by Mark Tanzer, the importance of foreign holidays on the UK economy is incredible and something the Government seems to be underestimating. As part of TUI UK & Ireland, Thomson and First Choice employ over 17,000 staff in the UK and overseas, which puts a substantial return into the public purse.”