Sales of packages to traditional Mediterranean resorts and cities on the Continent fell 14% in the four years to 2007, while independent travel to the same destinations rose 17%.
However, growth in the long-haul package market beyond the US has outpaced the rise in independent long-haul travel over the same period and the package market to the US has grown almost as fast as independent travel.
The findings, from a new Mintel study on the travel trade, highlight a move away from packages for short-haul breaks, reflecting the rise of Ryanair and EasyJet and their capture of much of the market to Spain, Italy and elsewhere.
But Mintel finds travel to these and other countries among the original EU members has fallen in any case from 75% to 68% of the total market since 2003, despite a 2.7% rise in UK visitor numbers to 31.7 million in 2007.
Other destinations are growing faster and the further they are from the UK, the better the package is doing.
Package sales to Europe beyond the EU rose almost 5% between 2003 and 2007, although independent travel to the same area soared 84%. However, the package and independent markets to these destinations remain close in size at between 2.5 million and three million each.
Mintel reports package sales to North America up 8.3% to 878,000 over the period 2003-2007, although sales passed one million in two of these years.
The independent market to North America dwarfed that with a 10% increase to 1.86 million.
However, UK sales of long-haul packages beyond North America rose 57% in the same period to 3.35 million. That compares with a 48% increase in independent travellers to 2.56 million – leaving the trade with the lion’s share of long haul.
However, it is worth noting the trade sold 12.2 million packages to traditional European destinations in 2007 and a further 2.5 million to elsewhere on the Continent.
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