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."

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect