Heatwave Britain: Foreign holidays suffer meltdown
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 16 July 2013
As bathers in Margate enjoy higher temperatures than tourists in Tenerife and the Algarve, Britain’s heatwave is hitting foreign-holiday bookings as badly as the volcanic ash crisis did in 2010.
Steve Endacott, founder of the On Holiday Group, said its sales were down 25 per cent – exactly the same as when airspace was closed because of the Icelandic volcano. Mr Endacott wrote on his blog: “Few of us saw this coming. My personal conclusion is that [the slump] will probably last as long as the heatwave does.”
The industry was expecting much better last-minute sales than last summer, when prospective customers were distracted by the Royal Wedding, the Euro 2012 tournament and the Olympics. But Mr Endacott said: “Rather than delaying the booking decision, [the heatwave] may be simply removing customers from the market.”
He believes a combination of recession and electronic evolution have increased the vulnerability of “the commodity sector” of the UK travel market to good weather.
Mr Endacott said firms offering cheaper holidays were worst hit. “The ‘have-nots’, who traditionally book late using credit cards, have been impacted more by recession.
“When a heatwave hits, it’s very tempting to shelve the overseas holiday and just sit in the garden.”
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