ABTA”s Travel Trends Report forecasts UK travel industry to perform well in 2012 despite the economic downturn. Holidaymakers will go for value for money deals and not necessarily cheap flights or hotels; Authentic and specialist holidays will sell more.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) released its Travel Trends Report 2012 on Tuesday 27th December, 2011. The report developed in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) forecasts that holiday makers will seek ‘value for money” holidays. The report observed that while the mid market is reeling under tremendous pressure, the luxury and budget all inclusive holidays will prosper; travellers will focus more on holidays offering authentic and specialist breaks.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA said, “2011 has been a challenging year but the British public showed resilience when it came to their holidays and we expect a similar picture in 2012. The squeeze on household spending looks set to continue and this is likely to see holidaymakers become more discerning about where they spend their money and what they get for it. This presents a good opportunity for travel companies to offer tailored, specialist and authentic experiences, as well as all-inclusive packages for the budget conscious, that provide great value for money.”

Here is a listing of some key trends identified by ABTA:

Authentic and specialist holidays

ABTA”s travel trend report identified that the growing desire to seek new experiences substantiated by good value for money is set to result in good performance of holiday to destinations with strong and authentic sense of location, in everything from food to setting and excursions to entertainment.

Specialist holidays offering something for everyone – be it cruising, adventure, exploration, spiritual spa break, learning and activity holiday or wedding/honeymoon package are also expected to perform well in 2012.

In times of economic uncertainty, one in five couples currently marry overseas with an average saving of £12,500 on a UK wedding. The financial pressures are set to result in increasing trend of overseas weddings in the coming year. Honeymoons abroad are also expected to grow in popularity in 2012.

Hot destinations

The figures for early booking of airline tickets and holidays for summer 2012 reveal the impact of economic uncertainty on consumer”s choice. The figures suggested that tourists mostly sought tickets for tried-and-tested short and mid haul destinations like France, Greece, Italy and Spain which will all prove to be popular tourist haunts.

The figures also indicated the transatlantic holidays and flights to USA, especially Florida to be in demand for summer 2012. In October, USA was ranked 3rd in top 10 family friendly destinations in the ABTA 2011 Consumer Trends Survey – an accolade which will perhaps drive more UK families booking flights to USA in 2012.

Though, destinations such as Tunisia and the Red Sea Resorts (Sharm El Sheikh) seem dull with slightly less booking activity, the report observed that these will be relatively affordable. Travel companies are looking to tempt tourists back to these destinations with cheap flight and hotel package deals.

Poland and Ukraine, Jordan, Colombia and Cape Verde and Iceland will be the fairly frequented destinations in 2012, the report revealed.

Budget and luxury travel

The report also indicated that, as the mid-market is the hardest hit by reductions in household spending due to the economic downturn, the luxury and budget holiday markets are expected to perform strongly in the coming year. The budget holiday makers will seek all-inclusive packages including cheap flights and accommodations for better transparency and control over finances while the extravagant travellers will favour off the beaten track and less well trodden destinations.

Age group trends

10% of “over 55s” – Baby Boomers – took more than four holidays in 2011 abroad and seem least willing to sacrifice their holidays in view of economic downturn. As per the report this trend is set to continue in the coming year as well.

Online Vs High Street Bookings

Yet another possible trend forecasted in the report is an increased presence of several major travel companies on the high street. Despite a reduction in overall shop numbers, year 2011 witnessed increased bookings, with 25% of travellers booking their airline tickets and foreign holidays on the high street compared to 17% in the year 2010.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office – General Advice

FCO”s Lynda St Cooke, said, “If you”re looking for a truly authentic travel experience then reading up on the local laws and customs before you go will help you get the best out of your trip. If you want to avoid potential pitfalls such as being arrested for something which isn”t illegal back home, being the victim of a local scam, or unwittingly causing offence to the locals, then checking out Foreign Office travel advice in advance is strongly recommended. Holidaymakers faced a number of issues in 2011 – from natural disasters to significant political events. We can”t always predict when crises will happen which is why British travellers need to be prepared for every eventuality when they go overseas – taking out travel insurance and telling someone back home exactly where you”re going is a good start.”

(Source: Travel Trends Report 2012 published by ABTA which can be accessed at www.abta.com.)

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