Abta is “cautiously positive” about the holiday market in 2016 despite the threat of terrorism having impacted public mood in the second half of this year.
Figures included in the body’s Travel Trends Report, developed in association with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, indicate a 9% increase in overseas bookings year-on-year and a 3% increase in holiday spending next year.
The threat or terrorism may affect holiday decisions for 2016, the report highlights, with leisure travel market data from GfK showing that booking patterns changed following the Tunisian beach massacre in June, with a switch towards perceived safer destinations.
Abta sees the bringing down of a Russian jet in October and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as having the potential to affect consumer confidence, but describes British holidaymakers as “proven to be resilient”.
The report also indicates that UK travellers are becoming more adventurous - 18% of people say they will travel to a country they have never been to before, compared to 9% who said the same last year, and almost a quarter of people say they will try out a new resort or city, up from 10% last year.
Consumers are also expected to choose long-haul holidays, with wider availability of new aircraft such as Boeing’s Dreamliner and the Airbus A380, along with the abolition of Air Passenger Duty (APD) bands C and D.
According to Abta members, older holidaymakers are travelling further and are seeking more active or adventurous trips. New adventure holidays are planned for 2016 to meet demand from customers who grew up in the 1960s and are already well-travelled.
Almost four in 10 people with ‘top jobs’ say they are planning to spend more on holidays in 2016, compared to an average of 23%, and destinations rebranding in order to attract specific markets is expected to be a key trend for 2016.
Western Mediterranean destinations such as Spain are seeing bookings for summer 2016 tracking ahead of previous years for this time of year.
Abta said these destinations have been the main beneficiary of a shift towards ‘tried and trusted destinations’, with geopolitical uncertainty and a favourable exchange rate with the Euro inclining British holidaymakers to return to destinations in greater numbers.
Domestic tourism is expected to remain in strong shape in 2016 with a boost anticipated from additional tourism investment announced in the government's Autumn Statement.
Destinations to watch in 2016 include a mixture of popular destinations and emerging ones:
- Abu Dhabi
- China – the Silk Road
- Hawaii (USA)
- Naples and Apulia (Italy)
- Queensland (Australia)
- Sri Lanka
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “It is always inspiring to see the incredible range of destinations and holidays available to people, trends in the rest of the market are also encouraging and show the ability of the travel industry to evolve and innovate to meet customer demand.”
Country-specific travel advice has been provided by the FCO in the report to ensure Britons travelling abroad next year remain safe.
FCO head of consular campaigns, John Heppenstall, said: “Abta’s report, which suggests that more British people will travel to a country that is new to them in 2016, acts as a reminder of the importance of preparing fully before travelling abroad.
“Simple steps such as taking out comprehensive travel insurance and researching your destination can make the difference between a holiday to remember and one to forget.
“The vast majority of people who travel abroad enjoy trouble-free trips, but for those who do encounter difficulties our consular staff are there to offer support.”
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