The weather, coupled with England’s eyebrow-raising performance in the World Cup – the first time the team had managed to reach the semi-finals in 28 years – would typically have been received with frustration by the trade.
So it was heartening this week to learn of agents’ upbeat reactions to the summer’s trading, in spite of the recordbreaking heat and England’s footballing prowess.
Bookings in early July were admittedly a little slow, or as Holidaysplease’s Richard Dixon put it, “like trying to get a big, heavy train moving”.
But for many agencies, it seems August delivered record-breaking sales. The typically more cautious travel commentators tell TTG that even those who experienced a particularly challenging summer have seen “signs of a revival” (p10 of this week’s TTG).
What is of particular interest is where these customers are travelling. Because, significantly, it’s not the usual hotspots of recent years.
Spain – perennial favourite of Brits abroad – saw a 6% drop in UK visitor numbers in July, and experienced its first fall in overall tourist numbers for July in nine years. It is still the preferred destination of choice for UK tourists, but took a knock this summer as eastern Med resorts experienced a resurgence.
Turkey saw a 28% spike in British visitors in July – a figure likely to have risen further in August as tourists took advantage of the 40% fall in the lira’s value. Meanwhile, Tunisia – restored to the UK tourist map by the FCO in February – has been luring tourists back, albeit slowly (p5).
Crucially, this summer has shown holidays remain a necessary purchase, regardless of record-breaking weather, sporting success and – more importantly – ever-increasing Brexit uncertainty.