How Many of them Will opt for a Staycation vs. Vacation Abroad? The British tour and travel trade will have a better idea of the condition of, and expectations for, next summer’s outbound travel season when the industry gathers for the World Travel Market (WTM) next month (Nov. 5-7). WTM generally serves as the global international tour and travel industry last take on how the current year—in this case, 2018—has done, and what the next year looks like, as tour operators can usually make a fairly reliable projection for the coming year based on the level of advance bookings vs. previous years, as well as other factors.
While there are no real-time numbers for the volume of overseas travel by Brits, the data that are available for 2018—for the first quarter only—were not encouraging. According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK residents made 4.6 million visits abroad in January 2018 (4 percent fewer than in January 2017), 4.1 million visits abroad in February 2018 (7 percent fewer than in February 2017) and 4.6 million visits abroad in March 2018 (6 percent fewer than in March 2017).
There are two other measurable factors that will be influencing operator projections for next year:
First is what Brits are telling pollsters how they feel about traveling abroad. And what they are does not seem encouraging. According to the poll by domestic accommodation rental firm Sykes Holiday Cottages (Obviously, one has to wonder just how much such a self-serving poll had to do with the way questions were asked of those surveyed). A quick digest of the key findings of the poll, which surveyed 1,000 individuals:
—Almost half of Britons—just under 50 percent—are less likely to holiday in Europe after the UK leaves the EU.
—Almost two thirds (65 percent) said they were worried that a further fall in the value of the pound would drive up prices overseas.
—Six in ten (60 percent) said they were concerned about not having free, emergency healthcare while abroad after Brexit takes effect in less than in six months.
—Four in ten of the 1,000 people polled also fear travel chaos on the roads around the English Channel, and pet owners are worried about difficulties with pet passports (27 percent of respondents).
Brexit, the name given to the UK’s “exit” from the 28-nation European Union (EU), takes place March 29, 2019. UK citizens voted for Brexit by a small margin in a referendum held in June 2016. The UK has yet to negotiate trade and traffic agreements with the member countries of the UK, causing many in the tour and travel industry to wonder about what happens to aircraft from EU nations traveling from or through UK airports.
Second, after a period earlier this year during which the British pound sterling was recovering to the point that some might thought it would return to the level it held against the dollar before the Brexit referendum (it traded at $1.47 on June 23, 2016—the day on which the Brexit vote was taken—and dropped 12 percent within a week, to $1.29), the pound has stumbled back down to the low levels it held immediately after the Brexit vote.
Here is a quick review of the pound vs. dollar level over the past six months.