Foreign travel bookings up as Britons tire of the staycation

If holidays are anything to go by, consumer confidence seems to be growing

Staycationing may be an inelegant description, but it was music to the ears of Britain's beleaguered tourism industry, heralding, as it did, a chorus of ringing cash tills. For the past three years, seaside towns and B&Bs across the country have enjoyed an unexpected revival as cash-strapped Britons shunned their usual foreign holidays.

But no sooner has it been granted a place in the Oxford English Dictionary, than the US-devised marketing buzzword looks set to become a thing of the past: British holidaymakers look set to return to the skies.

Dreary British weather, greater economic confidence and falls in package-holiday prices are contributing to a resurgence in foreign travel. In the first three months of 2011, the number of Britons travelling abroad jumped by 4 per cent to 13.5 million, according to the Office for National Statistics, while flight bookings across every sector are up for the first time this year.

TripAdvisor's survey of 6,295 travellers saw just 38 per cent planning a stay-at-home holiday in 2011, compared with 45 per cent last year.

Short-haul bookings are up 12 per cent, medium-haul up 4 per cent and long-haul up 2 per cent, according to the research industry analyst GfK Ascent. "People are ready to book to go abroad, but are opting for the security of a package," says its managing director, Sarah Smalley.

And, unlike the boom years when long-haul destinations became an almost standard choice, holidaymakers are now opting for short-haul destinations.

Bookings to France are up by 31 per cent on last year, followed closely by Italy (15 per cent) and Spain (11 per cent), according to the Co-operative Travel Group, as holidaymakers return to more traditional hotspots.

"In 2009 and 2010, most holidaymakers were wary of a recession and a dramatic drop in sterling, as well as uncertainty about the future," said Sean Tipton, a spokesman for Abta, which represents more than 1,000 travel agents and tour operators. "That has changed. People are now beginning to realise that they've missed out, while struggling countries in the eurozone are dropping their prices, eager to attract business again."

Industry insiders believe this summer's bookings are indicative of a "renewed confidence" among consumers.

Sandra Monks, 48, last went abroad with her children in 2008. "For the past two years we have stayed in the UK, with family in Wales, Cheshire and Manchester. Now, after two cautious years, we are set for a holiday in Greece in July, for which accommodation and flights are about £1,500."

As the appetite for foreign travel picks up, package holidays could be set to benefit. Approximately 20,000 more package holidays have already been sold, in the first week of the season for summer 2012, compared with the same period last year, GfK Ascent says, with holidays to the United States experiencing a 16 per cent increase in bookings. Three perennially popular US destinations: New York City, Las Vegas and Florida are all strong favourites for next year.

But campaigners have warned that the environmental concerns of foreign travel are at risk of being forgotten. According to Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner Richard Dyer: "The attractions of cheap air travel are obvious – but future generations will be left to pick up the bill.

"Governments must do more to tackle the huge impact aviation has on climate change. The coalition should keep its promise to bring in a new 'per plane' tax to encourage airlines to operate more efficiently."

Meanwhile, political uncertainty and the Arab Spring spells bad news for Egypt, which was one of the most popular holiday destinations for 2010. Bookings are down by 30 per cent, while Tunisia has dropped 16 per cent.

"Ironically, these are some of the cheapest package holidays in the market and they are unlikely to reap the benefit of the British holidaymakers' return," said Mr Tipton.

Case studies...

Short haul

Mike Utton, 51, an event manager from Leicestershire, is off to Barcelona with his family in July

"For the last two years, holidays have been very difficult to plan because I did not want to leave my business at such a vulnerable time.

But that's changing. People have got fed up of sitting in the doldrums and being gloomy. My daughter is now 21 and my son 19, and my wife and I realise that this could be the last time we go on holiday as a family.

For the last three years we have stayed at home. The money that we have saved on holidays has been invested in expanding our home comforts, such as decorating the house, installing a new kitchen and restyling the garden.

We last went abroad to South Africa in 2006, just before the crash. In hindsight that seems really decadent – but we had all got used to travelling long haul. This summer we are heading to Barcelona, for a week-long exploration of the city, culture as well as the beach. We did consider other European destinations, including Prague and Austria, but, ultimately, Spain is affordable and allows you to have a fairly luxurious holiday at a good price."

Long haul

Farah Ahmed, 32, a civil servant from London, is visiting Canada in July on a package-tour holiday

"My last foreign holiday was in 2008. Since then I have holidayed mainly in the UK, visiting families and taking short breaks in Northumberland, Sussex, New Forest and Cambridgeshire.

But I'm keen to get out of the country and see new things. Over the past few years I have saved some money and I am ready for a bigger excursion.

In February, I booked a mountain-biking holiday around British Columbia, Mount Washington, Silver Star and Whistler. It should cost around £2,500 in total.

Britain does feel like it has changed, with hotels, cottages, spas and weekend breaks becoming increasingly expensive anyway.

This summer's trip will be a result of careful planning and budgeting. I expect to meet around 15 people out there and pursue one of my lifelong passions."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells