WTM Vision: Outbound travel rebound by 2014

WTM Vision: Outbound travel rebound by 2014

It will take another three years before UK outbound travel revenues return to pre-global downturn levels. But the number of travellers by 2014 will still be more than 10% lower than in 2008, latest forecasts show.

UK outbound receipts in 2014 are expected to hit $38.6 billion, topping 2008’s $38.4 billion, according to Euromonitor International head of travel and tourism research Caroline Bremner.

The return to 2008 receipts levels would not be down to a return to pre-global recession levels of outbound tourism, but instead would be due to a change in mindset for the UK overseas holidaymaker looking for value instead of price.

The Travel Industry Global Overview research, due to be unveiled at the WTM Vision conference in London this morning, reveals UK outbound departures are likely to plateau at around 60 million in 2015. Predictions for 2011 are for 56.2 million Britons to head overseas, slightly up on last year’s level of 56 million.

The London Olympics year of 2012 will see 58.3 million departures; 2013 will increase slightly to 58.7 million with an improvement in 2014 to 59.6 million. Bremner predicted a higher spend per outbound trip, as consumers opt for value for money rather than price alone.

In 2008, seen as the last year before the crisis, there were 66.9 million departures from the UK, equating to an overall expenditure of $38.4 billion.  While the departure numbers remain well short in 2015, expenditure will recover to pre-crisis levels in 2014 when outbound expenditure hits $38.6 million.

Destinations such as Turkey will remain popular due to its value for money proposition as the country benefits from a shift away from North Africa following the political unrest in the Middle East, with Greece and Spain also taking up the demand.

Spain is holding up, despite the strength of the euro, but has discounted heavily with operators to drive demand, according to the research. Online travel agents and airlines are using new techniques such as flash sales, while airlines and chain hotels are making their loyalty schemes work harder to deliver guests and repeat custom.

The report reveals the UK’s two big operators, Tui Travel and Thomas Cook, are both continuing to work on differentiating their programmes in an effort to get people to trade up. The package holiday has seen a revival since the economic crisis, with all-inclusive deals helping to attract budget-conscious travellers.

World Travel Market chairman Fiona Jeffery said: “The UK’s outbound market will take some time to get back to the levels of 2008, although the expenditure will be back within a few years, thanks to customers prioritising value for money over price. Large and small operators will have to get their pricing and product right in the current climate.”

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