Abta reveals post-Christmas predictions

Cruising, adventure, exploration, learning and activity holidays are all expected to do well in 2012 as consumers seek new experiences underpinned by value for money.

Holidaymakers are also expected to seek out destinations that have a strong and authentic sense of location, in everything from food and setting to excursions and entertainment.

While the mid-market is expected to be squeezed, holidays that offer an authentic or specialist experience, and luxury and all-inclusive breaks, are all set to be popular.

The post-Christmas predictions come from Abta, which believes bookings through traditional travel agents will continue to rise.

While consolidation saw overall shop numbers decline this year, bookings were up, with 25% of the public booking their foreign holiday on the high street compared to 17% in 2010.

Several major travel companies are expanding their high street presence in 2012 and Abta expects to see companies invest in improving the in-store experience.

With the mid-market coming under the greatest pressure from reductions in household spending, strongest demand is expected to come from the budget and luxury sectors.

10% of over 55s took more than four foreign holidays in 2011 and this trend is set to continue.

Early booking figures for summer 2012 suggest that ‘tried and tested’ destinations such as France, Greece, Italy, Spain and the US will all prove popular next year. Abta also identified Jordan, Colombia, Cape Verde and Euro 2012 football championships host countries Poland/Ukraine as among its hot destinations for 2012.

More couples are expected to marry abroad in 2012 due to pressures on budgets. One in five couples currently marry overseas with an average saving of £12,500 on a UK wedding, according to Abta.

Releasing its 2012 travel trends report, association chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “2011 has been a challenging year but the British public showed resilience when it came to their holidays and we expect a similar picture in 2012.

“The squeeze on household spending looks set to continue and this is likely to see holidaymakers become more discerning about where they spend their money and what they get for it.

“This presents a good opportunity for travel companies to offer tailored, specialist and authentic experiences, as well as all-inclusive packages for the budget conscious, that provide great value for money.”

Lynda St Cooke, from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, said: “If you’re looking for a truly authentic travel experience then reading up on the local laws and customs before you go will help you get the best out of your trip.

“If you want to avoid potential pitfalls such as being arrested for something which isn’t illegal back home, being the victim of a local scam, or unwittingly causing offence to the locals, then checking out Foreign Office travel advice in advance is strongly recommended.

“Holidaymakers faced a number of issues in 2011 – from natural disasters to significant political events. We can’t always predict when crises will happen which is why British travellers need to be prepared for every eventuality when they go overseas – taking out travel insurance and telling someone back home exactly where you’re going is a good start.”

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