By Daniel Hunter

Last summer’s washout and the unpredictable UK weather is encouraging British holidaymakers to seek sunshine abroad, according to the latest annual Barclays Travel Forum sentiment survey.

More than half of the travel industry representatives surveyed (54%) expect demand for domestic holidays to decrease this year as consumers choose to take a foreign holiday, avoiding the risk of a damp break in the UK.

This is emphasised by 52% of respondents who stated that they expect consumers to travel more this year than last, and this trend is set to grow into 2014, with 65% expecting to see consumers travel more next year than they will do this year.

South America (32%) is tipped to see the greatest increase in tourism over the course of the year. Only 4% expect North America to see an increase in tourism and Europe is down from 49% last year to 27% this year. It would appear that exchange rates are impacting choice holiday destinations. Indeed, more than one in five (22%) respondents cited exchange rates as the external issue they are most concerned about, with a further third (32%) stating that currency volatility will account for the greatest price increase to holidays in 2013.

“Consumers remain cautious about their spending. More than a third (34%) of the industry respondents we surveyed stated that low discretionary spend is a key concern for them — and with weak exchange rates affecting many holidaymakers’ budgets, it’s understandable that consumers are choosing different holiday destinations, but it’s not stopping them from seeking sunshine abroad," Chris Lee, Head of Travel, Barclays commented.

According to the survey, 60% believe Air Passenger Duty (APD) is adding to the financial burden and influencing how consumers choose to travel; more than one in four (28%) state that flight taxes will account for the greatest increase to the cost of a holiday this year. One in five respondents believe the recent increase to APD is already having a major effect, with them seeing a drop in the number of people choosing to travel to long-haul destinations.

Commenting on the outlook for their individual businesses the respondents were overwhelmingly confident. More than half (54%) expect to see growth of up to 10% this year, almost one in five (19%) expect to see growth of between 10-20% and a further 15% expect to experience major growth of over 20%. This confidence extends into 2014 with 84% stating that they are confident about the outlook for their business — 23% of whom were ‘very confident’.

“It’s great that the travel industry is so confident about what the future holds. It’s been a challenging few years, and while we are not out of the woods yet, we are seeing positive signs and the industry’s optimism is encouraging," Chris Lee added.

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