Travel trade refutes claims it will be hit by economic downturn

The industry has hit back at a by Mintel study which suggests people are delaying holidays because of worries over a downturn in the economy.

The report suggests almost three in every five adults has chosen to cancel their spending plans recently because they are concerned about their personal finance situation.

Consumers are more likely to sacrifice their travel plans than home improvements or boosting their savings, the report claims, with one in five adults delaying a family holiday because of money worries.

An ABTA spokesman said the report was ambiguous and agents should remain confident that the public would continue to book trips.

“A holiday is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. People might not take several breaks a year, but they will take their summer holiday. They might just go for a more budget option.”

Greece and Cyprus Travel Centre director Anna Mavroulakis dismissed the report. “There has been a lot of scaremongering in the media about the economy, but I think people are still taking their holidays. We haven’t been affected.”

The luxury end of the market is trading well, said Hendon-based Colletts Travel director Roy Collett.

“It has been quieter recently but that’s because of the Easter holidays. Top-end breaks with four and five-star hotels are still selling well.”

Looking ahead, the economy is likely to be back on track in 2009/10 thanks to Olympics investment and the approach of the general election, said Mintel.

The report, called British Lifestyles -Winner and Losers in Changing Economic Times, conducted interviews with 2,000 people during February.

Its research into holidays and travel revealed a trend towards long haul and ‘new wave’ destinations, as well as people taking shorter holidays more frequently.

The growth of long UK holidays has failed to keep pace with competing sectors, as the UK can be seen as a “conveyor belt of heritage experiences” and struggles to compete with overseas attractions.

Mintel chief statistician Peter Ayton said: “The travel industry responds quite quickly to shifts in the economy. However, it will be one of the first things to pick up when things improve, as there will be pent-up demand.”

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