Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Let's hear it for the package holiday!

few years ago a lot of travel pundits wondered if the package holiday was finally on the way out. With the advent of sites that allow you to book hotels directly yourself online, and the arrival of low cost flights with companies such as Ryanair and Easyjet it looked as if the death knell was finally being rung for the humble package holiday, which always had been badly maligned in some quarters. But it looks like the recent economic downturn has put the package holiday firmly back on the agenda, with adventure holidays and independent travel in a bit of a decline since the credit crunch.

In particular, the high street travel agents are reporting an increase in bookings for all-inclusive packages. Once thought to be a bit of a luxury, people are now catching onto the idea that an all-inclusive break has the benefit of fixing much of your costs in advance, making it much easier to stay within budget. Conversely, there has been a fall in demand for self catering holidays as the supermarkets in the resorts are proving to be a tad on the expensive side for British holidaymakers due to the falling pound. The sudden demand for all inclusive deals goes part of the way to explaining why the demand for cruises has remained steady despite the downturn.

Also, a reason why holidaymakers may be returning in force to the attractions of the package holiday is the financial security that it offers. If you buy a package holiday you are covered in the event of failure, such as XL of last October. If you book a flight directly you are not, as many Zoom customers found to their cost.

UK travellers are now less inclined to visit countries using the euro, such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, and are now more likely to visit countries such as Turkey and Egypt, where the pound will go further. Last year ABTA reported that bookings to Turkey were up by 32 per cent, and to Egypt were up by 38 per cent. Tour operators report a similar trend again this year.

But today’s package holiday tourist is perhaps a more savvy traveller than package holidaymakers of the bygone era of the sixties and seventies, as epitomised in “Carry On Abroad”, (1972). Today the internet has led to a much better informed travelling public who are no longer relying on brochures, their high street travel agent, or library books to inform them about where they are going. Travellers can now get up-to-the minute information online, with sites such as Trip Advisor and Holidays Uncovered giving people far more informed choices about the resorts, hotels, and what to expect.

So if you are considering jet-setting off this summer, a package holiday could be just the ticket.

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