Liam Hodge, of First Rate Exchange Services, says a key finding in the latest Holiday Confidence Index is concerning in unpredictable times
Terrorist attacks abroad have frequently made the headlines in recent years, but the attitudes expressed by consumers who are planning to travel abroad on holiday this year suggest they are pretty stoical and not easily ruffled by events taking place on foreign soil.
It is true that most holidaymakers are concerned about the threat of terrorism and who would be surprised at that?
However, in our latest research for the Holiday Confidence Index two-thirds of people planning trips abroad admitted that while they had concerns about the possibility of a terrorist attack, they were not prepared to allow this to put them off travelling.
In fact, only one-in-five told us that acts of terrorism had caused them to swap destination – a significant downward shift of seven per cent compared with a year ago.
And it is not just acts of terror that could cause travel disruption. Holidaymakers could also find that they are impacted by the collapse of an airline or tour operator. Just think back to the chaos caused by the collapse of Monarch.
In light of this, what did come as a surprise, was the unexpected change in attitudes towards holiday protection.
A year ago, opinions had hardened about the importance of Atol protection. Three-quarters of our survey respondents rated it crucially important, the highest ever level since the Holiday Confidence Index was created.
Just a year later, there has been a marked 6% fall in the numbers who still think it a priority. Digging a little deeper, we found that it is young travellers – those aged 18-24 – who drove the figures down.
Only 54% of them rated Atol protection as important, compared with 79% of older people aged 55 and over.
Although it is reassuring that the vast majority of older people understand the value of protecting their holiday, it is a worry that younger people may not be aware that they could be putting themselves at risk – not least because this is the age group who are less likely than others to have funds to get themselves out of trouble if they are stranded abroad.
Holidaymakers also need to be conscious of the risks posed by natural disaster. For example, the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in parts of the Caribbean and Florida.
This is precisely why it is important for UK tourists to carry sufficient cash with them when they travel abroad. Yet our research shows that only 20% of holidaymakers plan to increase the amount of foreign currency they take with them on their next holiday.
Around two-thirds of those planning trips abroad will either take the same amount or less spending money with them, despite the fact that sterling’s fall in value means it will not stretch so far in most European destinations.
One way to solve this is take some back up cash on a pre-paid travel money card, which, unlike debit and most credit cards, will not incur transaction charges when used, and which is safe and secure because it is not linked to bank accounts.
If the money is not needed, it can be saved and used on a future holiday but it could be a godsend if holidaymakers find themselves stranded abroad.
I may be preaching to the converted but it seems to me that stressing the importance of Atol protection and careful holiday budgeting is going to be more important than ever before in these unpredictable times.
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