Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Brussels, Turkey and Brexit - cocktail of confusion for travellers

The Brussels attacks have added to an already risk laced cocktail of doubts and fears for travellers and the travel industry. Last year’s Paris atrocities had already heightened tensions. Those in Turkey and Tunisia, plus the grounding of flights to Sharm el Sheikh following the downing of a tourist flight bound for St Petersburg in October, have narrowed the options for summer sun seekers. And uncertainty over the UK’s continued membership of the European Union may result in further short term increases in holiday costs. 

The Lleyn Peninsula - a good year for a staycation?

Past claims that international volatility enhanced the popularity of the so called “staycation” left me somewhat unconvinced. Like all north Europeans, Brits like to take long odds against having their annual break wipes out by grey skies and rain. Besides, despite the protestations of the domestic travel industry, holidaying at home is still relatively pricey, compared with many popular destinations across the Channel. As I reported earlier, unease caused by the EU referendum has helped reduce the value of the £ sharply against the euro and the US dollar, losing about 10% to date against the former. There’s no knowing whether that means traders have already discounted the impact of a Brexit. If opinion polls start showing increased support for the out movement, sterling could take further hits. But combine this unknown with fear of terrorism and if ever there were a year in which staying taking a holiday somewhere deep in the domestic countryside appealed this is surely it. So if such a break is in your sights – even if it’s outside the school summer holidays – it would be unwise to delay booking for too long.

Britain's glories - don't wait to book
It is tempting to give the same play safe advice to those still planning to travel abroad. The travel bookings report bookings to Spain soaring as interest in Turkey evaporates. One UK travel agency chain reports business to the former up by 48% while bookings to the latter have plummeted by 58%. Bulgaria, Italy, Malta and Portugal have all seen double digit rises. This suggests the choicest properties – whether hotel rooms or self catering villas and apartments – will be harder to find. But set against that a huge expansion in low cost flights – both within Europe and across the Atlantic, combined with ongoing nervousness over terrorism, and there are bound to be some deals around. So if you enjoy the flexibility of the senior traveller, keep your eye on the ball. Or if you have a local High Street travel agent you know and trust, get them to do it for you.

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