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27 Dec 2017

BY Rob Gill

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Blue Planet to fuel responsible tourism focus in 2018, says Abta

Responsible tourism is set to become even more important for holidaymakers in 2018 in the wake of TV programmes such as Blue Planet 2, according to Abta’s latest trends report.

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Research from the association suggests more consumers are booking with sustainable and ethically-minded travel firms

The association said that its research had already shown that almost 70% of people wanted travel companies to ensure that holidays had a positive impact on the destination’s people and economy, including tackling issues such as human rights and working conditions for tourism employees.

 

Abta said this elevated consumer awareness was likely to lead to more initiatives such as social enterprise projects to help communities in destinations, as well as the creation of carbon-neutral group tours and banning plastic from beaches.

 

Other key trends identified in the report include how overtourism in some tourist hotspots, such as Barcelona, Venice, Palma in Majorca and the Greek island of Santorini, could lead to consumers being more willing to travel to “alternative” destinations.

 

“Destination authorities, local government, local businesses and the travel industry can collaborate to better manage tourism for the benefit of locals and tourists,” said Abta in the report.

 

“This might include encouraging alternative times of year or alternative sites, but it can also include better management of the impact of tourism on local people.”

 

There is some evidence that consumers may already be responding to overtourism concerns by considering other destinations, with Abta finding that more than a quarter (27%) are planning to visit a new country while almost one-third (32%) want to visit a new resort or city.

 

Abta also expects to see an increase in low-cost long-haul flights this year as Norwegian, Wow Air and Eurowings offer more of these services in competition with the legacy carriers. Danish airline Primera Air is also to launch its first transatlantic long-haul routes from Stansted and Birmingham this spring.

 

Another anticipated trend is higher consumer demand for package holidays because they provide more certainty and better value for holidaymakers. Packages are already the most popular type of holiday booking with 51% of consumers taking at least one package during the past 12 months.

 

Abta said packages had become more attractive in “light of political and economic uncertainty” with consumers trying to protect themselves against potential currency fluctuations.

 

Holidaymakers with deep pockets are also being tempted to combine “luxury with escapism” by considering a series of revolutionary new technology-led forms of transport, such as the Airlander 10 airship, Boom Supersonic aircraft, which has been dubbed the new Concorde, and the Virgin Galactic space vessel, finally set to launch in 2018.

 

Abta has pinpointed a dozen destinations to watch in 2018 including short-haul options such as Germany, Malta, Montenegro, Sweden and Turkey. Long-haul destinations expected to prosper are Argentina, Arizona, British Columbia in Canada, Nepal, New Zealand, Rwanda and Saint Lucia.

 

Malta’s profile is set for a major boost in 2018 as its capital Valletta becomes a European Capital of Culture and the Mediterranean island hosts events such as the Malta Jazz Festival in July and the International Arts Festival throughout June and July.

 

Montenegro in the Balkan region will benefit from direct UK flights as holidaymakers are tempted by the country’s combination of “spectacular mountain scenery and canyons with pretty towns, lively resorts and a stunning coastline”.

 

Abta said Germany had “shot up” the list of UK holidaymakers’ most popular destinations in 2017 and this momentum should continue into 2018. Berlin’s nightlife, culture, architecture and parks have made it a popular short-break city. There is also more interest in cities such as Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg.

 

Turkey is “bouncing back after some challenging years” and is currently offering “great value for money” for UK tourists, while Sweden is basking in the glory of taking top spot in the latest “Good Country Index” with its pretty capital Stockholm and pristine countryside among the top attractions.

 

Argentina will benefit from new Norwegian flights from Gatwick to Buenos Aires starting next month (February 14), while New Zealand’s profile has been boosted by being used to film part of Blue Planet 2.

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