The UK travel industry is notorious for beating itself up over issues for which perhaps consumers tend to have little knowledge or actually couldn’t care less about.
Consumer protection is a classic, a subject which has a tendency to pop up at many industry conferences at the expense of other, arguably more important issues of the day [disappointed to hear that Google-ITA Software deal did not get a mention at the recent ABTA Travel Convention].
And, now, take Air Passenger Duty, the UK government’s controversial tax on outbound passengers, which has seen successive increases over the course of the past few years.
The Telegraph newspaper, for example,¬†launched a high-profile campaign a few years back to petition the then-Labour government to scrap APD.
The campaign obviously didn’t have any impact at all as the new coalition government supported a previous position to increase the tax to ¬£170 on any journey over 6,000 miles from UK airports. The tax decreases in stages down to ¬£24 for trips over 2,000 miles.
The rise in November this year was met with stern warnings from the likes of ABTA about how UK consumers would be priced out of foreign holidays or, according to campaign group Flying Matters, how 43% of adults would be less likely to fly and a third had cut overseas travel.
Clearly the populace is up in arms and ready for UK-based holidays in 2011?
Three surveys independent of one another are painting a very different picture.
A Hitwise study of data up to November 2010 showed the most search for destinations by UK users were New York, Tenerife, Malaga, Paris, Dublin, Orlando, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Dalaman and Lanzarote.
The fastest climbing destinations in the overall list included such long-haul destinations as Goa, Sharm el Sheikh and Melbourne.
In the meantime, Ebookers released a survey last week of 6,000 UK residents and their travel goals for 2011.
The online travel agency reckons consumers are “defying” the APD increase and looking to head for long-haul destinations.
The top ten flight destinations for next year were Sydney, New York, Miami, Delhi, Capre Town, Bangkok, Munich, Paris, Zurich and Vienna.
Finally, there’s always TripAdvisor‘s mammoth annual forecasting survey to understand a little more about consumer travel trends. Amongst its findings this year were:
- One in ten Brits are planning to travel more in 2011.
- Two-thirds of Brits planning at least one long-haul holiday next year.
- Decrease in the number of those planning a staycation.
- Top frustrations around flying were confusing baggage rules and security issues – not APD.
So, it does the beg the question: is the UK travel industry (or perhaps those that get the airtime at conferences and in the trade press) concentrating on the wrong issues?