'Toughest time in decades' - but holiday demand will return

'Toughest time in decades' - but holiday demand will return

The travel industry is facing its “most challenging set of circumstances” in the past three decades, but demand is “cyclical and will come back”.

That was the message from Chris Photi, senior partner at accountancy firm White Hart Associates, at the Barclays Travel Forum conference.

Photi said a combination of the economic downturn, geopolitical upheaval, unfavourable exchange rates and fuel prices, and the recent good UK weather was putting huge strain on the industry.

“I believe we are facing the most challenging set of circumstances I have seen in the last 33 years working in this industry,” he said.

“Something else seems to happen every week in some key destinations. Egypt probably makes up 30% of the big two’s entire winter programmes.”

Former Abta president Ian Reynolds, a delegate at the forum, questioned whether many firms would be able to survive a predicted further two years of contraction of the sector on the back of the past three.

However, Photi said: “The travel industry is amazingly resilient. Will it mean more failures? Probably, although I do not think we have seen as many as some of us, myself included, expected.

“I think 2012 is going to be another tough year but I believe in the UK consumer; they want their holidays.

“When we come out of this recession we will come out like a rocket. People will be sick of the austerity measures and will want to spend more and they will spend it on holidays. It’s cyclical, it will come back.”


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