2011 has been a turbulent year for the travel industry - from the earthquake in Japan and riots in the Middle East to the economic instability. Expedia.co.uk has taken a retrospective view of travel patterns seen during the year, noting the resilience of certain travellers and their destinations.
Brits have one of the highest holiday allowances in the world- with an average of 26 days according to a global study by Expedia.co.uk- and are taking the full amount despite this year’s disturbances. The most popular destination for British travellers in 2011 is the UK, which has seen over a 10% increase in bookings on Expedia.co.uk compared to 2010.
“2011 has highlighted the mixed approach to holidaying taken by Brits in troubled times. As some are drawn to holidaying at home, others simply look for alternative destinations - with Spain and Turkey particularly growing in popularity during the Arab Spring. The other notable trend was deal hunting – with savvy travellers taking advantage of the great deals to be had in destinations like Egypt and Japan as these destinations recover. Yet what’s absolutely clear is our determination to keep our holidays.” commented Andy Washington, Managing Director of Expedia in the UK and Ireland.
Deals and promotions boost destination recovery
Expedia.co.uk has witnessed great resilience in both travel destinations affected by world events and the loyalty of certain travellers to these destinations. Swift action from tourist boards and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and investment in marketing has played a significant role in the rapid recovery of destinations such as Japan, Egypt and Morocco.
· Japan: After the devastating earthquake which hit Japan in March, Expedia.co.uk saw that Japan’s growth was significantly below the rest of the world, based on year-on-year growth in UK bookings. Following a huge price promotion between Expedia.co.uk and the Japanese National Tourist Office, which boosted customer confidence, bookings to Japan improved and are now back in line with other popular destinations.
· Egypt: By August bookings were rising above average for all destinations. Sharm el Sheikh was particularly quick to recover thanks to the Foreign Office’s clear guidance on affected areas and by not restricting travel to Egypt. By March weekly bookings had already risen above 2010 levels.
· Morocco bombing: The bombing of a Marrakech cafe certainly deterred travellers during April, but throughout the Summer Expedia.co.uk saw a steady recovery and by August Morocco’s year on year growth in bookings was in line with other destinations. By October it was outperforming the average growth of global destinations.
Adapting to the unexpected
Rather than sacrificing a long-planned holiday most Brits have simply adapted their travel plans switching to alternative destinations or simply adapting their route.
· Thailand: Since the flooding in Bangkok city, bookings to the capital decreased substantially in late October, while the rest of the country continued to see strong growth as travellers simply flew direct rather than stopping off for a night or two in Bangkok. Notably by late November, even in Bangkok, weekly bookings were improving once more.
· Spain and Turkey saw hotel bookings grow following the outbreak of disturbances in Egypt and across other popular destinations such as Tunisia and Morocco as Brits looked for alternative holiday locations for guaranteed Summer sun close to home.
· 2011 also saw hotel booking growth of over 25% for destinations such as the Greek Islands, Madeira and the Algarve in Portugal, Kenya and Eastern European destinations such as Tallinn and Sofia. Expedia.co.uk expects these destinations to build on their growing popularity in 2012.
UK staycations are more popular than ever
Trying to avoid disruption overseas and increasing flight taxes such as Air Passenger Duty, more Brits than ever are choosing to holiday at home and lap up the delights the UK has to offer-whether it’s a trip to the coast or an activity-packed city break. London has seen an increase in bookings since last year thanks to the range of attractions it has to offer, from award-winning theatre shows to new world-class shopping complexes.
Andy Washington, Managing Director for Expedia in the UK and Ireland, says: “It has been an eventful year for the travel industry and a tough year for certain popular travel destinations, but we’ve noticed time and again that people tend not to forego their annual holiday. It’s encouraging to see that Brits are taking advantage of the multitude of attractions closer to home in the UK and embracing staycations.
In such a tough working environment people need a break, so we are doing all we can to facilitate this- from the launch of our mobile Expedia Hotels app which allows customers to book on the move to great deals in our January sales. Customers’ happiness is our priority and we will do all we can to ensure 2012 is full of new travel experiences for them, whilst continuing to support the travel industry and affected destinations in, hopefully, a more settled year”.
UK Bound in 2012
Bookings to London should grow nicely in 2012 due to an influx of travellers from all over the world for the huge sporting events lined up for the summer, ever-growing festivals and Queen’s jubilee taking place. With the ongoing economic uncertainty staycations are likely to remain attractive to Brits as they discover new activities for which to explore their own country: with an increased interest in local culinary tours and cooking classes, or the rise of local bicycle schemes such as Boris Bikes, to get people exploring cities in new ways.