A catalogue of woes may have hit the long haul holiday market this year but destinations are fighting back hard to overcome the negatives, according to its latest review of the sector by Hayes & Jarvis (0871 884 0246 www.hayesandjarvis.com). Fluctuating exchange rates, ash clouds, riots and airline strikes should have dampened demand but Hayes & Jarvis says that aggressive pricing by hoteliers and airlines has resulted in eye-catching offers that have kept customers booking some of the hardest hit long haul destinations.
Ironically, dollar destinations hit by a double whammy of sliding exchange rates and airline strikes have been the big winners in a topsy-turvy year for long haul travel. Transatlantic travellers may have less cash in their pockets this year than when sterling hit its high point against the US dollar, but for Hayes & Jarvis demand has soared by over 30 per cent for travel this spring and summer, especially to Las Vegas, the fastest growing US destination, and for twin-centre trips to the West Coast.
This year’s real star performer is the Caribbean, another destination closely affiliated to the dollar. Bookings are up 130 per cent for Hayes & Jarvis in May and June, a growth driven by substantial pricing discounts offered by leading hotel groups like Sandals and Almond Resorts. These helped Antigua and Barbados to become this year’s fastest growing long haul destinations for Hayes & Jarvis.
Niel Alobaidi, Commercial Director for Hayes & Jarvis said: “World Cup or no World Cup, holidaymakers were queuing up to book Caribbean holidays in June because the package offers were out and out match winners. Pricing continues to be very keen for the rest of the summer and looking forward to autumn and winter. For example, we are offering an All Inclusive package at Almond Beach in Barbados this September for £899 per person - £100 less than a year ago.”
HAYES & JARVIS FASTEST GROWING LONG HAUL DESTINATIONS 2010
6. Las Vegas
8. Los Angeles
10. San Francisco
Thailand’s well-documented misfortunes this year have been to the advantage of its Far East competitors. At the height of the civic unrest in Bangkok earlier this year, Hayes & Jarvis found that holidaymakers were switching to other destinations in the Far East region. In particular, Bali profited with a 35 per cent year on year bookings increase during May and June. However Niel Alobaidi says that while the political instability definitely dented bookings in the short term, while the country was hitting the headlines, Thailand has now turned the corner and bookings for Phuket and Koh Samui are “exceptionally strong”.
Another destination where tourism took a dramatic dip in 2008 because of political instability was Kenya, the best example, according to Hayes & Jarvis, of the way in which countries that depend on tourist traffic fight back to regain their market share. A continued policy of price-cuts and added value savings helped Kenya rebuild its business last year and in 2010 to date it remains one of the fastest growing long haul destinations.
“Kenya hit back with dramatic discounts which made the country one of 2009’s best value options and it is continuing to do so. Sri Lanka is another country which bounced back quickly after the Tamil Tigers war dented its holiday appeal. The common denominator is an aggressive pricing policy and fantastic added value offers from hoteliers and airlines because the evidence demonstrates that if the value is there, Britons will be swift to return,” said Niel Alobaidi.
Looking ahead, Hayes & Jarvis suggests that an early booking trend is re-emerging, after hitting the doldrums in the noughties. Fuelled by more lucrative price incentives, Kenya, Egypt, India and Mauritius are all showing year on year increases in excess of 20 per cent for Hayes & Jarvis, while Sri Lanka bookings for winter and next summer are up over 50 per cent on the back of substantial accommodation savings. Similarly, four and five star resorts in the Caribbean are offering headline-grabbing discounts and Hayes & Jarvis has seen resulting growth of over 50 per cent year on year for St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and the Bahamas.