Holidaymakers are even less willing to forego their annual holiday than six months ago but many will adopt new cost-cutting tactics.
Research among 2,000 consumers by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers in February showed only 16% would not go on holiday at all, compared with 20% asked the same question in July last year. Only 17% now said they would take fewer holidays, compared to 20% last July.
PWC said the poll suggested recent interest rate cuts have helped to create more discretionary spending.
Just six months ago more consumers intended to reduce their holiday spend. In July 2008, 12% said they would not cut back at all, while in February 15% said they would not tighten holiday expenditure.
Head of travel Malcolm Preston said: “While there is no doubt short breaks will be hit harder than in boom years, interest rate cuts are creating more discretionary income. This in turn is being pigeonholed for travel.”
However, PWC said the full extent of the industry’s response to the recession would not be clear until the autumn and warned the number of holidays sold would continue to drop.
The poll also showed more than two-thirds of consumers plan to trade down on holidays.
A quarter of those surveyed said they would take a cheaper holiday in the same location by adopting cost-cutting methods, including staying in cheaper hotels, choosing self-catering, taking cheaper transport, waiting for a last-minute deal or going for 10 nights instead of 14.
Preston warned companies to hold their nerve on price and remain flexible. “The businesses that meet this spectrum of coping mechanisms will see out the recession,” he said.
Meanwhile, the trade predicted Easter would be critical. Anthony Goord, proprietor of Peter Goord Travel in Plymouth, said: “That’s when families will decide whether to go on a summer holiday.”
Lowcost Travel Group director Lawrence Hunt warned hoteliers in a four-hour flight radius in the western Mediterranean needed to launch joint promotions with tourist boards or airlines to boost sales hit by high prices.
“They need to fix this situation or they will have a rubbish summer,” Hunt said.
He added that the bed bank is seeing an “explosion” in sales to non-eurozone hotspots such as Turkey and Tunisia.
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