Industry analyst GfK reported summer 2016 bookings in July up 1% on last year, and season-to-date bookings up 5%. But it’s not just last-minute bookings that were up, as July saw a 14% year-on-year rise in bookings for this winter.
Summer 2017 bookings were also up 10% on a year ago, although the numbers are small. The rise in bookings came alongside surges in inbound visitor numbers and domestic trips, which have been widely attributed to the fall in the pound. The Tourism Alliance reported an 11% increase in UK domestic trips in July and an 18% rise in international visitors.
Yet outbound travellers seem undeterred up to now, despite reports of exchange rates as low as €1 to £1 at airport foreign exchange bureaux. GfK data shows family bookings up 14% on July 2015 last month, with mainland Spain, the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Cyprus and Rhodes enjoying the biggest growth.
Office for National Statistics figures confirmed the pre-vote trend, with holiday departures for the six months to June up 5% on last year and departures over the past 12 months up 7%.
The booking and departure figures were in sharp contrast to a World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) forecast that UK holiday departures could drop 3% by the end of the year as a result of Brexit and a weaker pound.
WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill said: “These are top-line projections. This summer, people probably made their commitment to travel. We’ll see in the autumn whether the exchange rate has more of an impact.”