Some 1.7 million Brits were expected to travel abroad during fall half-term. New itineraries abound.
The October 15th announcement by the U.S. government that permitted vaccinated international travelers to visit the USA, effective November 8th, set off an almost-festival-like atmosphere among U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs that sell to the UK, which is the largest source market for overseas visitors to the United States.
After all, British tour operators and the rest of the UK tourism industry for whom the USA—especially Central Florida, is the favorite overseas destination of Brits and popular, too, among other European country markets. The USA trade will miss the opportunity to tap into this year’s half-term travel surge for students, who influence family travel decisions. (Autumn term runs from early September to mid-December, with half term falling this year at the end of October.)
Throughout the UK and Western Europe (together, they usually generate two out of every five overseas visitors to the U.S.), tour operators and major travel sectors were promoting last-minute packages, increased airline seat capacity, and new and expanded product for 2022.
Yes, the numbers tell us it’s really happening. There have been enough consumer and traveler surveys that should have encouraged the industry which, prior to 2020, had high hopes: the total number visitors to the U.S. from the UK came close to 4.8 million visitors, seemingly making the first 5-million-visitor number a real possibility. Will 2022 be the year?
Easy Jet Sees 1.7 million traveling abroad this half-term break. The low-cost operator (it is the sixth largest British operator*) commissioned research among more than 2,000 adults for its annual Taking the Temperature report. The study told us that:
—One in five (21 percent) Brits currently had a holiday abroad booked;
—Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of those bookings were made in September 2021;
—1.7 million people were set to travel overseas during the school break;
—A total of 3.8 million are due to get away during the rest of 2021;
—Almost three in 10 (28 percent) travelers feel more confident about traveling abroad following the removal of the amber list and pre-departure tests.
—Beach holidays are reportedly the most sought-after type of holiday, with all-inclusive trips being the most popular holiday option according to the operator’s booking data;
—42 percent of Brits said they will be visiting “less crowded places” when traveling abroad compared to before the pandemic, while three in 10 (31 percent) will be looking to cut their impact on the environment;
—Even though it showed a modest increase in in bookings, the annual report also showed that consumers are still “apprehensive” about the protections in place if things go wrong;
—Sixty-two percent of Brits are only willing to book a holiday abroad if they feel confident their money is protected, compared to 53 percent last year;
—Financial worries are at the top of the list of concerns of holidaymakers, with 43 percent worried about losing money if they need to change their travel plans, which is an over the 38 percent registered last year.
* By passenger volume, based on number of Air Travel Organizer Licensed (ATOL) passengers.
Meanwhile Long-Term Looks Bright for North America: While there is an understandable trade focus on the present and on such measures as passengers, arrivals, guests and customers, the long-term perspective of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), on display in a just-issued report; tells us that North America’s travel & tourism sector has soared ahead of many other regions of the world, indicates that, “With recovery taking place faster than expected, its contribution to GDP is forecast to rise 38 percent this year, ahead of the global average,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO said: “Our research shows that while globally Travel & Tourism is slowly beginning to recover from COVID-19, North America is recovering at a much faster rate.”
WTTC data also reveal the following:
—The North American region could see a year-on-year increase of 26.4 percent next year, bringing the sector’s contribution to the North American economy back to pre-pandemic levels at nearly US$ 2.2 trillion.
—While the local economy has benefited from a rise in domestic spend, expected to grow by 43.7 percent by the end of this year and 21.4 percent in 2022, recent changes to international travel restrictions are also expected to provide a rise in international spend.
—WTTO’s research shows that international spend looks set to grow by a moderate 16.9% percent this year. However next year, the region will benefit significantly from vaccine rollouts and more relaxed travel restrictions, with international spending predicted to grow by 147 percent.
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