2011: What ABTA Thinks
ABTA has produced a 42 page report on what it thinks will be the travel trends of 2011. Forecasts are fun if only to look back on in 12 months time and see what didn’t come to pass. They got one thing right last year though. 2010 has been a tough year with a number of airlines and tour operators going bust as the industry tried to second guess what we, the travellers, would do. We booked later than ever; more of us stayed at home than many expected yet long haul proved a growth area.
So what for 2011?
They seem optimistic for the year as I think just about everybody now accepts that a holiday is viewed as a necessity not a luxury. We will continue to holiday but we will trim that to use what money we have. And with a VAT increase and other tax increases on the way, what effect will those have? APD (Air Passenger Duty) has risen every year for the last few years and all of that effect hasn’t kicked in yet. ABTA says that by 2015/2016 we will be paying £3.8 billion. Some of us will choose to holiday by other means than flying. And some will stay at home, they think, particularly given what they call the Wills and Kate phenomenon. This will persuade some of us to travel to Anglesey where the couple will live or journey to other locations linked to them including Kenya where he proposed and the Seychelles where they have holidayed. They also think that American, Croatian, Danish, Dutch and Germans might come in greater numbers given the enquiries so far. (But not the French?) In 2012 the Olympics and the diamond jubilee will be strong attractions for overseas visitors.
But where might we go?
In Europe they think that the two hot destinations will be Estonia and Sweden. Estonia because the capital, Tallin, is going to be one of the European Cities of Culture next year (it also adopts the euro from January 1st 2011) and Sweden because of the interest in the crime writing and films that are set there. With Wallander being seen on BBC and the Stieg Larrsson and Camilla Lackberg books and films, ABTA thinks that Stockholm and Gothenburg will lure us particularly since there are so many direct flights. But what of traditional places like Spain? Spain, they think will see more of us going there as there will be more flights and prices have come into line with Turkish and Egyptian destinations. And with the euro at better rates against the pound than for a little while, other popular destinations in Europe may attract more of us.
Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia are places where they still see us visiting in ever increasing numbers but there are also three other places they mention, Abu Dhabi, Syria and Iraq. Abu Dhabi has been flagged for years as a hot destination prospect and this time it might be true. Having a formula one race gave them lots of publicity, they have Ferrari World and soon they will have branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums. With luxury resorts springing up they are looking at attracting those who might consider Dubai. As for Iraq, they say that Basra is being suggested as a cruise port whilst infrastructure is built up. In the north, Kurdistan, they are building mountain adventure areas and shopping centres but say that large tourism is a little way off yet. Which leaves Syria. Heritage sites like Damascus, Aleppo and Palmyra abound and there are currently 600 tourism projects being undertaken. Palmyra, of course, is on the famed Silk Route so could be in line for more investment from the international group that is trying to encourage more visitors to the route. Syria will attract a certain visitor who will visit for the culture and put up with some inconveniences in travel. It would be my tip for a destination that will be transformed over the next decade so visit it before it becomes overrun.
For long haul areas, ABTA lists New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Brazil. Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Peurto Rico and the USA as areas to watch. All these place will have been substantially affected by the increase in APD so they will have to promote themselves on what they have to offer rather than price. But Brazil has never been cheap and nor has been Puerto Rico. The pound/dollar ratio has been declining making America as a little more expensive so will that turn us off going there? Mexico has more flights in 2011 and more capacity always adds numbers. New Zealand will always appeal because of its language and its huge range of scenery from glaciers and mountains to hot springs and vineyards. Nepal celebrates a tourism year and Peru has the 100th anniversary of the finding of Machu Picchu. But Sri Lanka could be the star in my opinion. Still receiving relatively few visitors it is anxious to encourage us. With beaches, national parks, heritage sites and the cricket world cup not to mention wildlife, climate, direct air links and infrastructure it could be the place to go.
1.77 million of us will cruise in 2100, they forecast. If it were a country, I think that it would rank pretty close to the top 10. That’s how important it has become. And with more cruises starting at UK ports (no APD to pay), more planned (and unplanned) air disruption and more cruise ships around, the numbers could keep growing faster than other holiday types.
Do you agree with ABTA or have you your own ideas of the 2011 hotspots?