UK HOLIDAYMAKERS are opting for “safer” destinations this year, as the tourism industry continues to feel the effect of recent terror attacks in north Africa and mainland Europe, the Guardian has reported.
It said that, according to industry insiders, bookings to Greece, Spain and Portugal have seen a spike, while resorts in Tunisia and Egypt continue to experience a decline in visitor numbers.
Travel deals site Travelzoo, which predominantly sells package holidays, says companies it works with are expecting holidays to Spain and Greece to sell out within weeks, as airlines re-route their flights from Tunisia and Egypt.
A survey by the site also found that 30% of UK travellers now rate the general safety and security of a destination as the most important factor when deciding where to go on holiday.
Turkey, which suffered a suicide bombing in Istanbul in January, has also seen a sharp decline in tourism according to Travelzoo, with some agents reporting a 50% drop in bookings.
Travel agent association Abta says that although the number of people booking overseas holidays in general has not declined – in fact it is up 9% year on year – UK travellers seem to be favouring western Mediterranean destinations this year.
In a column piece for the tourism sector’s TTG website, Steve Endacott, a travel entrepreneur and chairman of Teletext Holidays, said January’s early bookings for summer 2016 have remained resilient, with travel agents reporting 10% plus growth year-on-year.
However, UK demand is polarising towards the perceived safer Spanish destinations, whilst other destinations such Turkey and Greece lag well behind.
He said Turkey may hold the key to how the Summer 16 late market turns out, as it looks destined to provide the highest volume of cheap late accommodation, combined with poorly loaded UK flight capacity.
Germany is seeing an even more polarised version of the UK trend, with industry commentators forecasting two million less German victors to Turkey, post the recent Istanbul and Ankara attacks. Some of these holidaymakers will simply not travel, but Spanish hoteliers are already putting up rates in the expectation of selling out due to buoyant German and UK markets.
Some of these holidaymakers will simply not travel, but Spanish hoteliers are already putting up rates in the expectation of selling out due to buoyant German and UK markets.
This polarisation is likely to lead to very expensive late deals in Spain and very cheap deals to destinations such as Turkey and Greece.
He said further terrorist activity in these destinations could create a situation where customers will not travel at any price, creating a problem for all players, with little saleable stock being left available when we reach the lates market.
He added that the UK weather could well play a part as well as the impact of June’s Euro 2016 football championships in France. He said: “I think it’s more likely that we are all in for some sleepless nights ahead.”