Consumer caution led to the number Britons taking overseas holidays in the first seven months of the year falling 8 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.
Meanwhile the weakness of sterling failed to convert into an inbound tourism boom, with the number of international arrivals to the UK marginally lower than last year.
Passenger arrivals from the US fell sharply, down 10 percent in the second quarter year-on-year.
The only winner was the business sector, with inbound numbers rising 3 percent in the seven months to the end of July.
“The winner has been the staycation,” said Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, the national tourism agency.
Some 44,000 fewer people taking overseas holidays in June and July compared with the same period in 2009. Those holidaying abroad in June numbered 3.87m compared with 3.94m in the same month last year. In July 2009, 4.26m holidaymakers travelled abroad compared with 4.28m in July this year.
The official data backs up figures from the tour operator heavyweights Thomas Cook and Tui Travel, which have both experienced weak summer sales, with 1.6m fewer people taking holidays abroad in the year to July 2010 compared to the same period for 2009.
According to the ONS, inbound holidaymakers totalled 6.66m for January to July, with a July figure of 1.47m compared to last July’s 1.32m.
Business trips to the UK rose 3 percent over the same period, but trips to see friends or relatives fell 7 percent. Overall, trips to the UK for January-July fell by 2 per cent.
Sandie Dawe added: “What is disappointing is [trips from] North America. The US travel trade industry was buoyant at the end of last year about a strong outbound market to the UK.”