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?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence