What’s happening in the world of travel…

A focus on the ups and downs of the turbulent travel industry.

The number of Brits travelling abroad in 2011 increased by 0.8% compared with the previous year, although holiday visits were down, the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. The number of holiday visits abroad by UK residents fell from 36.4 million in 2010 to 36.3 million in 2011, according to the report. Travel to visit friends or relatives rose from 10.9 million in 2010 to 11.4 million last year. Business visits also rose, from 6.6 million to 6.8 million. Some 56 million Brits went abroad in 2011, compared with 55.6 million in 2010.

The government is launching a state funded gap year scheme commencing in July, so that students (age 19-25 years) that wouldn’t normally be able to afford to take a gap year have the opportunity to take one according to Metro newspaper. The three-year scheme will place applicants with a major charity to work on projects in developing countries.

Economic constraints in the UK and Europe as well as uncertain situations will continue to hinder the travel industry into 2012, Euromonitor International revealed in April. According to the analysts, the UK will ‘narrowly avoid moving into recession’ next year but still face a decline in consumer confidence and tighter spend as Brits look to save.

The cruise industry has remained buoyant with some companies even reporting growth. Royal Caribbean Cruises have seen a growth of 21% per annum in the last five years and saw 400,000 guests a year on its ships. However, chief executive Richard Fain said there is still an uphill battle to convince customers that cruises are no longer just luxury holidays and nor are they just for the older generation. Many cruise companies have turned to low pricing and ‘value-for-money’ messaging to boost sales.

Sixty eight per cent of Britons say the rising cost of Air Passenger Duty (APD) will affect their travel plans this year according to new research by TripAdvisor. 64% of Brits believed APD was unfair on travellers, with just 11% saying it was fair. According to the poll, British travellers are becoming increasingly cost- conscious, with 83% citing price as a key factor when booking a flight this year, compared to 71% in 2011. Other key factors were: convenience of travel time; convenience of airport location; direct flight and ample leg room.

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