Last quarter foreign holiday bookings up by eight percent in UK

A survey has shown that overseas holiday bookings between March 1 and May 31 are up by 8 percent compared with the same period last year.

Multicom, a travel software company, has announced the results of its study, which also revealed an increase in holiday costs of 2 percent and a 16 percent increase in turnover.

Whether the upturn is due to improved confidence in the economy, as cited by Multicom, or whether it is more down to consumers finally reacting to years of financial constraints despite the economy, is difficult to say. However, the impact on British consumers of the poor spring weather – which Multicom also cited – will certainly have driven many to book an overseas getaway.

John Howell, Multicom’s managing director, said, ‘These figures show a clear trend that bookings are up this year as people feel more confident about their financial security while also wanting to escape the poor British weather. The increase in spend per booking underlines the renew confidence holidaymakers have it would appear, while the increase in the cost per booking reflects the small rise in prices.

‘The poor weather has also left many in need of a break from the uncertain summer ahead, choosing instead to make plans for a decent holiday where they can be assured of some sun and less rain.’

One company that has benefited from the upward trend is Global Travel Group, a travel agency based in Chester, UK. It has reported an increase in sales of 11 percent across its 400 independent travel agents. The company stated that Spain and the Indian Ocean were proving particularly popular with British travellers, while its cruise sales were up by 25 percent.


Intrepid British tourists not easily deterred

According to a recent survey, it takes more than local unrest or even a serious incident or crime to deter British tourists from visiting their chosen holiday destination.

The survey, which was carried out by Holiday Extras, a UK-based on-line company that provides pre-booked UK airport hotels and parking, quizzed respondents on how they would respond to negative news emanating from their forthcoming holiday destination. The results showed that gung-ho Brits have no problem with prioritising their vacation over almost anything, including their own safety.

More than half of men questioned for the survey said that news of local difficulties in their destination country would not deter them from travelling, with only 34 percent saying that they would change their plans on news of a serious incident or crime.

While women erred a little more towards caution, 49 percent of them would still join their male counterparts in thumbing their nose at possible problems, and board their airplane on schedule.

Those Holiday Extras customers that said they would be deterred had varying views on how long a troubled destination should be avoided for, with 15 percent declaring 1 year, 43 percent saying 6 months, and 11 percent saying that they would be permanently put off.

Head of insurance at Holiday Extras, Andrea Clayton, said, ‘The results of this poll show how positive British people feel about their travels in the world – and this is a really good thing. Keep in mind, wherever you go on holiday and however daring you intend to be that you should always follow advice from the Foreign Office. Make sure that you have adequate travel insurance and don’t underestimate the cover that you may require wherever you go.’

The survey followed incidents of violence in Borneo.


Foreign Office Launches Plan.Pack.Explore Travel App

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), a UK government agency that is concerned with the interests of UK citizens overseas, has recently released a new travel app for UK residents going abroad.

The ‘Plan.Pack.Explore’ app is a new travel guide that is mainly aimed at gap year travellers planning a trip abroad. The guide includes travel health advice, how the FCO can and cannot help travellers abroad, how to get the right visa and keep money safe, as well as examples, case studies, and reference maps.

Explaining the app, Khalida Cox, the spokesperson of the Know Before You Go team at the FCO, said, ‘Now that exam results are out and people start considering a gap year, preparation can be daunting for young people and their parents, particularly if it is a trip away without family for the first time.

Plan.Pack.Explore. helps travellers understand exactly what they need to do before they go away and provides essential information for parents in the run up to the big trip. The guide will also be invaluable for those who book last minute travel and need essential travel preparation advice quickly.

Gap years should be all about having fun, exploring the world and hopefully enhancing your CV but if you are not prepared before you go away, things can go horribly wrong.

Statistics show that over the last six months, one in four of 16-24 year olds travelled without insurance and only a quarter made health related preparations before going overseas. This leaves them at risk of facing really high bills for medical care or repatriation.’


British Overseas Travellers Spending Millions on Card Charges

Travellers intending to use their prepaid credit or debit cards while on holiday abroad this summer are being advised to make sure that they understand what charges apply.

Bitish travellers are spending millions on card charges while on holiday, according to a recent study on currency cards.

Around 3,000 British holidaymakers participated in the survey of holiday spending money, and around 50 of the most popular debit, credit and prepaid holiday money cards were analysed as part of the study carried out by Travelex, a foreign currency exchange specialist.

The study has reported that around 77 percent of British holidaymakers that are going abroad for their summer holidays will be using a credit or debit card to finance purchases or withdraw cash. Around 485 of the respondents had answered that they did not decide to take a prepaid card as they were confused about which one to choose.

Travelex has estimated that travellers may have paid an additional GBP100 million in fees and charges by using their credit and debit cards abroad during this summer, as almost all of these card transactions include a currency conversion or load fee.

Financial expert, Andrew Hagger, said, ‘There has been an explosion in the number of prepaid cards in recent years, with different cards for different currencies and a myriad of different companies offering prepaid cards. However, unlike credit or debit cards, there isn’t a uniform way of displaying these cards so holidaymakers are faced with a bewildering array of fees, charges and terminology.’


PM Attracts Criticism for Holiday Choice

The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, has attracted criticism over his choice of summer holiday destination this year.

During a speech to foreign business leaders at the British Business Embassy conference last Thursday, the PM was quoted as saying: ‘If you want a holiday, then why not have your holiday here?’ However, it has emerged that Mr Cameron’s own holiday plans for this year involve taking his wife, Samantha, and their three children to a destination in continental Europe.

The holiday abroad has been confirmed by the Prime Minister’s office in Downing Street, although no specific details were given regarding the location, due to security concerns.

Although the leaders of all three of the UK’s main political parties will be staying in Britain for the duration of the 2012 Olympic Games, they have all diarised holidays outside the UK in the weeks following. Liberal Democrat leader and deputy PM, Nick Clegg will be taking his family on their regular summer excursion to his French villa, and on to his wife’s hometown of Olmedo in Spain, while the leader of the opposition Labour party, Ed Miliband, will holiday with his family in Greece.

Newspapers in the UK have been quick to pick up on the Prime Minister’s apparent confusion, with the Daily Mail today alluding to his comments when holidaying in Cornwall in 2010 when he said that Britons should be proud of their country and what it has to offer.

‘I love going on holiday in Britain. I’ve holidayed in Snowdonia, South Devon and North Cornwall, the Lake District, Norfolk, the Inner Hebrides, the Highlands of Scotland, the canals of Staffordshire to name just a few,’ he said at the time.


Wet April Boosts Overseas Holiday Bookings

Virgin Holidays, the UK-based holiday company, has reported a rise in holiday bookings following the persistent rain that drenched the UK for much of April.

April has officially entered the record books as the wettest in the UK in 100 years, causing British citizens to fear for what the coming summer might bring and book overseas holidays in the hope of guaranteeing better weather. The company has reported a 55 percent increase in April vacation bookings in 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.

April 29, 2012 was the wettest day of the month, and that was the day when the company recorded its maximum enquiry level for overseas vacations, mostly for destinations in the Caribbean and in Florida, US.

Happy with the surge in holiday bookings, the company is planning to launch a new ‘Downpour Discount’ for people booking holidays on the wettest days of the months ahead.

Amanda Wills, the managing director of Virgin Holidays, said, ‘This ongoing poor weather is no joke for those affected by flooding so we’re looking at various rainy day discounts initiatives to give them something to look forward to. It’s a simple equation – the more it rains here, the more money you could save on a holiday to get away from it. The increase in demand across all of our channels tells us that consumers are desperate to find some sun. There are some fantastic bargains to be had and the surging value of the pound means that their hard-earned cash goes further once they get there.

After the wettest April in a century, and numerous predictions for an overcrowded, washout summer, it’s hard to blame them for turning their back on the staycation.’

Foreign Office trials text messaging service in a crisis

Vodafone UK customers who take their mobile phones overseas may now find their phone is more than just a handy way to stay in touch with friends and family.

The Foreign Office has launched a trial service with the network provider to deliver emergency text messages to their subscribers as well as to customers of any mobile provider whose service runs on Vodafone’s network. The text will be sent out to customers who are in a country where there has been a major crisis – such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.
The service is free to customers of the mobile providers taking part in the trial and will provide essential advice in the event of a crisis. The Foreign Office will pilot this service for a 12 month period.

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said:

“The recent consular crises in Libya and Japan have demonstrated the need to deliver live travel safety messages to as many people as quickly as possible. This new service is part of our vision to deliver better consular services more cost-effectively and we’re delighted to be working with Vodafone UK and a number of partners on the pilot. We hope in the future we will be able to roll out this service with other mobile network operators and mobile providers.”

“The pilot is part of the Foreign Office’s commitment to improve consular services. We will soon have the ability to send text messages to all affected British Nationals registered on our crisis database. As well as this we’re also exploring delivering important information through a range of mobile and online tools, including Smartphone apps, a travel advice site for mobile phones and making effective use of social media and digital tools.”

The text messaging pilot will not replace any existing services and information provided in the texts will continue to be provided on the Foreign Office website, and the FCO Travel Facebook and Twitter channels.

Quarter of self-employed consider moving abroad

The poll of 2,000 small and medium-sized firms cited the lure of a better work/life balance as the main reason.

Two out of five bosses say looming tax rises make them look overseas, while a third feel relocation offers a better chance of building a profitable empire.

The most popular destinations are New Zealand and Australia, the survey by broker Foreign Currency Direct reveals.

The firm’s director Stephen Hughes said: “Given the state of the UK economy it’s hardly surprising that so many self-employed people are considering moving their business interests abroad.

“We’ve seen a significant jump in self-employed people transferring money abroad to set up their businesses as well as paying for big ticket items such as rental deposits and cars.”

The most eager amongst smaller businesses to consider a move are those in the banking and finance, hospitality and leisure, and professional services sectors.

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