27 Dec

A positive outlook for the travel industry in 2017 is tempered by caution and uncertainty

ABTA’s Travel Trends Report 2017, released 27 December, reveals that a positive outlook for the travel industry in 2017 is tempered by caution and uncertainty. The report also highlights emerging and key trends in travel which will influence holiday habits in the year ahead, and reveals the 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ for 2017.

As 2016 draws to a close, early bookings for overseas holidays appear strong for 2017, with industry figures showing bookings for next summer tracking 11%* above last year. ABTA research also reveals that almost a quarter of the population (24%)** plan to spend more on holidays next year. However, despite encouraging signs such as these, many uncertainties remain, including around the Government’s Brexit negotiations.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive commented: “As we reflect on a challenging but successful year for the travel industry and look at the prospects for 2017, there are encouraging signs pointing towards a positive outlook for next year. However, when there is so much volatility and uncertainty in our economy, it is difficult to predict what is going to happen to bookings next year, and Brexit negotiations will certainly impact the travel industry. Despite this uncertainty, it is always inspiring to see the incredible range of destinations and holidays available to people, and I am particularly pleased to reveal our 12 ‘Destinations to watch’.”

12 Destinations to watch

ABTA has identified its 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ for 2017, a mixture of destinations that are expected to capture the public’s imagination next year for a variety of reasons.

These are (in alphabetical order):

  • Andalucía (Spain)
  • Azores (Portugal)
  • Bermuda
  • Chile
  • Country Kerry (Ireland)
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Kerala (India)
  • Sardinia (Italy)
  • South Africa
  • The Southern States (USA)
  • Vietnam

Key trends

  1. The currency conscious holiday

Recent fluctuations in the value of the pound are expected to continue into 2017 and it is likely that this will influence holiday decisions. Destinations where the pound may go further include Argentina, Mexico and South Africa.

  1. Long haul city breaks

With the city break firmly established as British people’s favourite holiday type – over half of people (53%) took one in 2016 compared to 38% who took a beach holiday – city breakers are looking further afield for their next holiday, and the city break is going long haul. Long haul city break destinations include Tokyo, Cape Town, Dubai, Hong Kong and Bangkok. U.S. cities including L.A., Miami, Boston and Washington are also popular.

  1. Micro-adventures

Defined by British adventurer and author Alastair Humphreys as ‘small and achievable, for normal people with real lives’, busy holidaymakers are opting to spend some of their holiday or a short break, experiencing destinations in a more active way by taking part in a micro-adventure.

  1. Travel technology hits the high street

Holidaymakers may well find themselves enjoying their hotel, resort or destination before they travel, as travel companies use technology such as virtual reality to let people ‘try before they fly’.

  1. Sustainable tourism takes centre stage

2017 is the UN Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and this is expected to put sustainable tourism right at the heart of the agenda. According to the UN, ‘well-designed and well-managed tourism’ can contribute to sustainable development, to job creation and to trade, and it is expected that travel companies may be inspired by this year to look at their role in the destinations they sell to.  

*  GfK’s Travel Leisure Monitor, November 2016

** Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 1962 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2016. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2016.