Slowdown in long-haul growth from the UK forecast

Slowdown in long-haul growth from the UK forecast

A slowdown in growth of long-haul travel from the UK has emerged from the latest flight booking analysis.

Departures have been 7.5% up on last year in the first three quarters of 2017.

However, bookings for the last three months of 2017 are currently running 6.3% ahead of where they were at the same period in 2016, according to ForwardKeys, which analyses more than 17 million flight bookings a day.

The US is the most popular long-haul destination with a 29% share of the market, followed by the UAE (7%), India (6%), Canada (5%) and Thailand (4%).

Destinations demonstrating the most substantial growth are Saudi Arabia, with fourth quarter bookings 29.2% ahead of the same point in 2016; Australia, 15.4% ahead; Japan, 13.5% ahead; UAE, 11.9% ahead and Mexico 11.6% ahead.

ForwardKeys’ sales vice president Seb Cron, speaking at World Travel Market, said: “One has to be particularly impressed with the UAE and Australia in attracting visitors from London because both have a substantial market share and are showing strong growth.”

The company also identified a “significant slowing in demand” for inbound bookings to London in the final quarter of the year.

Bookings are standing 7% ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year, against 13.5% during the first three quarters of the year.

Arrivals in the first three quarters of the year from the Americas are 16.9% up on 2016 but bookings for the fourth quarter are currently just 4% ahead year-on-year.

The slowdown in bookings from the USA correlates with a decline in the relative strength of the dollar against sterling.

Last October, sterling hit a five-year low of $1.22 but the rate has since recovered to over $1.30.
Analysis of long-haul bookings for London reveal that a series of terror attacks coincided with dips in demand and those dips were significantly more marked in the fast-growing Chinese market.

However, there was a return to growth within just a few weeks, suggesting that the inbound travel industry is becoming increasingly resilient to terrorism.

Cron said: “It appears that the appeal of a weak pound is more attractive to visitors to the UK than the terrorist attacks are off-putting.”

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