Just-released numbers from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a solid 6 percent increase in 2015 compared to 2014 for the number of visits to North America by British travelers. UK residents’ monthly travel to North America during last year exceeded 2014 totals for the last eight months of the year—from May through December—included a 24 percent year-over-year increase for the peak travel month of August.
Overall, the data were even stronger. UK residents made 13.4 million visits abroad in the final quarter of 2015, according to the latest ONS figures—a 10 percent rise on the same three months the previous year. And for the entire year, nearly 51.5 million Brits traveled internationally—a nine percent increase over 2014.
How it Happened: It is not the job of the ONS to speculate as to why the outbound holidays increased at such a healthy rate, but those who have followed the market closely during the past year suggest the following reasons:
—The UK economy has experienced another year of steady recovery.
—The British pound sterling has held up relatively well against both the U.S. dollar and the Canadian loonie—especially against the latter.
—Pent-up demand … Brits have had sluggish growth in their outbound travel numbers ever since the immediate wake of the 2008-09 economic recession, which hit the UK especially hard. Finally, it was time to holiday!
—On May 1, 2015, the UK eliminated the Air Passenger Duty (APD) for children under 12 years, reducing the cost of travel to the USA by a family of four by up to $400. (The eight months of consecutive year-on-year growth of travel to North America coincides with the elimination of the APD.)
—Credit Brand USA with a marketing and promotion campaign that has piqued interest in the U.S. travel product and, in particular, in its second-tier and third-tier destinations. By the time Brand USA’s fourth Mega-Fam for travel agents is finished just prior to this year’s IPW in New Orleans, the agency will have exposed the travel trade to some two-thirds of all U.S. states.
UK Resident Travel to North America
|* Preliminary figures|
|Source: UK Office for National Statistics|
Also: UK Seniors Opting for More Adventure Travel: In a report that came out at the same time as the ONS release, the results of a new survey by Post Office Travel Insurance showed that older travelers are continuing to become more adventurous when it comes to booking their holidays. The survey showed that:
—27 percent of the 698 people aged 55 or over surveyed in September are more adventurous than when they were younger about where they go on holiday and what they do.
—Another 60 percent want to ensure they are fit enough to enjoy an adventure holiday while
—More than a quarter said they had taken part in a number of activities including scuba diving, snowboarding and horse riding while on holiday.
—33 percent were planning on doing the activities on their next trip abroad.
According to Post Office Money Insurance managing director Rob Clarkson, the research suggests that “55-and-overs are actually much more adventurous than might have been expected.”