Latin American travel holding firm in UK market despite Brexit fears
The Latin American Travel Association has revealed the results of the 2017 LATA Travel Trends Report, revealing, while Brexit has dominated the headlines over the last year, it has not had an immediate impact on holiday bookings.
ONS data shows that customer confidence has held up well with positive year-on-year growth in overseas visitation and tourism spending.
UK visitors made 4.6 million visits abroad in March 2017, up by five per cent compared to March 2016.
Consumer spending is also more robust than might be expected.
In March 2017, UK residents spent £3 billion on their visits abroad, a 13 per cent increase when compared to March 2016.
Latin America is showing similar growth rates to other parts of the world but the perceived cost and distance remain barriers to booking.
LATA surveyed 3,641 consumers about their travel habits.
Some 19 per cent of respondents had travelled to Latin America in the last two years with the largest share (25 per cent) falling into the 65+ age category followed by the 25-34 age category (representing 21 per cent) and the 55-64 age category (representing 18 per cent).
Although the age spread is varied, it’s worth noting that the over 55s account for a significant 43 per cent.
When asked what elements were included in their holiday, the most popular attribute was culture, history and heritage which were selected by 56 per cent of participants who had visited the region.
This was followed by wildlife and nature (46 per cent) and walking and trekking (30 per cent).
Looking at competitor destinations, Asia stands out with 21 per cent of respondents who have holidayed in Asia over the last two years having considered, and discounted, a Latin American alternative.
Over 40 UK tour operators were surveyed of which 59 per cent are Latin American specialists.
In terms of types of holidays sold, the three most popular categories included wildlife and nature (86 per cent), culture, history and heritage (81 per cent) and luxury (78 per cent).
Looking specifically at the Latin American region, over 62 per cent of tour operator respondents reported a growth in bookings in 2016 verses 2015.
However, 47 per cent of tour operators claim that the main barrier to booking a Latin American holiday is cost, while 18 per cent claim it is due to distance a/o length of travel and 15 per cent cite concerns around the zika virus.
A statement from the Latin America Travel Association said: “In a year of change and uncertainty, it is not surprising to see people seek the support and protection offered by a tour operator.
“The UK travel industry reports an increase in year-on-year bookings to Latin America as well as increases in passenger expenditure and business confidence.
“Despite positive gains, the industry claims that the main barrier to bookings is the lack of knowledge with more than half of the travel agent respondents citing their lack of knowledge as a major deterrent when trying to sell holidays to Latin America.
“There is a demonstrable desire amongst the travel trade to learn about the destination offering a valuable opportunity for Latin American tourist boards and tour operators to deliver meaningful training sessions to help drive sales and visitation.”
Announced on the final day of business-to-business travel conference Experience Latin America 2017, the LATA Travel Trends Report looks at the prospects for travel to Latin America drawing on market information as well as new research conducted by LATA.
The full report can be downloaded here.