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Responsible tourism, key to travel decisions: ABTA Report

ABTA’s Travel Trends 2019 report, released recently, highlighted that responsible tourism is now becoming an increasingly significant consideration when booking a holiday

Travel Trends 2019 is based on market information and consumer insights, revealing five key trends expected to shape holiday choices in 2019 and highlighting ABTA’s “12 destinations to watch”. It also identifies that, despite political uncertainty, people are committed to taking holidays and the desire to get a value-for-money break is also expected to influence holiday decisions over the next 12 months.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said, “Sustainability issues are now firmly in the minds of holidaymakers, our research shows people are increasingly conscious of the positive influence they can have through their holiday booking choices and are more mindful of the actions they take. We expect these factors to further inform where and how they holiday next year. The travel industry has been working across a range of sustainability issues for some time now and continue to develop plans and initiatives which support local communities, their economies and the environment. With four months to go until we leave the EU, Brexit is getting closer yet the political process is still ongoing. Despite the uncertainty, early indications show people are still booking holidays, reflecting people’s strong
commitment and desire to travel.”

Responsible tourism goes mainstream

This past year has seen a number of sustainability issues move further into the public’s consciousness – with much greater awareness of the impact of plastics on the environment on tourism’s impact on local communities. The uplift in awareness is also reflected in holidaymakers attitudes to companies – over a third (36 per cent) of people would opt for one travel business over another if they have a better environmental record – up 13 per cent since 2014 (23 per cent).

Responsible tourism has risen further up the agenda and is becoming an integral part of business decisions and planning, with many companies announcing plans to make holidays more sustainable in the long term.

Examples include TUI, Intrepid and G Adventures, who have recently announced plans to further support the local economy and local workers in the destinations they travel to. Thomas Cook is looking to remove 70 million pieces of single-use plastics within the next 12 months and Eurostar is targeting a 50 per cent reduction in plastics by 2020.

Resurgence of the trusted travel expert

One of the main reasons holidaymakers book with a travel professional is because they feel more confident doing so (45 per cent)) and Travel Trends 2019 looks into the demand for personal, tailored and expert travel advice.

In an age of limitless choice and information the service travel professionals provide is highly valued – offering a few well-selected holidays which meet the customer’s specific requirements.

Travel companies such as Hays Travel and Barrhead Travel have announced an increase in stores, cruise companies are using travel agents more and more in recognition of the critical part they play in selling cruises and there has a strong uplift in travel professional homeworkers – so all in all, it looks like the trusted travel expert has a bright future.

People committed to holidays with Europe the top spot

Travel Trends 2019 also reveals that, despite the unprecedented political turbulence and uncertainty of the past year, Britons are firmly committed to taking holidays – with forward bookings for Summer 2019 12 per cent up on this time last year.

Europe tops the list of places people plan to travel to in the next 12 months, with 61 per cent planning to take a trip to the continent next year. For example, Bulgaria and Greece are set to perform well with an increase in bookings for Summer 2019 of 30 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

The desire to get a value-for-money break is a growing priority, due to stretched household budgets and the continued weak Pound. Package holidays are likely to prove a popular choice in the search for good value, after three in five (60 per cent) people said they booked a package this year because it was the best option for the price.

Wellness travel is on the rise

Wellness tourism is now worth an estimated US$ 639 billion globally, growing more than twice as fast as general tourism. With trips globally up 20 per cent since 2015, travel companies are increasingly catering to the demand for wellness holidays, with companies such as G Adventures, Intrepid’s 18-29 brand and Uniworld offering new programmes which seek to alleviate stress and boost wellbeing.

The tailor-made package

Increasing numbers of holidaymakers look to a package for a good value break, recognising it is often the best option for price, as well as appreciating the ease and consumer protection that comes with it. We’re also seeing travel companies introducing new ways to provide flexible and tailor-made holidays, including Kuoni’s Meraki Travel and Solo travel specialist Just You. This means travellers who want a bespoke trip can do so while still enjoying the protections and reassurances of a package, if they book services together in the same purchase.

Technology supports a seamless holiday experience

Service based technology is making travellers lives easier – from the moment they leave their front door to their return to home soil. Airport luggage drop-off services, facial recognition technology replacing passports, suncream booths and a dedicated departure beach are some of the services being introduced to ensure holidaymakers have smoother journeys.

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