Number of foreign holidays taken by Brits falls 6%

The number of foreign holidays taken by Brits fell 6% in the year to March as the recession and weak pound took their toll on the travel industry, according to figures released today by the Office of National Statistics.

The figure fell from 70.2 million in the 12 months to March, to 66 million.

Visits by UK residents to Europe decreased by 6% at 52.5 million, while visits to North America fell by 9% to 4.2 million. Travel to other parts of the world decreased by 6% to 9.3 million.

A spokesman for ABTA said the results were no surprise. “The credit crunch has been an issue for over a year now so it was inevitable it would have an impact on people travelling abroad,” he said.

“Our members have planned for this with capacity cuts – 6% is not good but it could have been worse, it is manageable.”

Despite talk of a growth in inbound tourism, travel to the UK by overseas residents has also suffered, according to the figures. The number of overseas visitors to the UK fell 7% during the 12 months ending in March (from 33.2 to 31.0 million).

The number of US travellers coming to the UK saw the highest fall of 17% to 3.7 million, perhaps due to the country being hit hard by the economic downturn.

However, there was a slight pick up in inbound tourism in the first three months of the year.

Travelodge spokesman Nick Dines said: “The increase reflects the added appeal of the UK to continental visitors thanks to the weakness of the pound. For the rest of the year it is critical that we are marketed abroad as a value destination, offering locations and an experience that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.”

The figures come from the ONS’ International Passenger Survey.

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