Budget airlines fuel UK outbound


According to the European Travel Commission, Britons have the third highest propensity for foreign travel of 38 European nationalities, behind only the Swedes and the Swiss. This is despite foreign travel for the British not being a simple matter of crossing a land border, as it is for many Europeans. The ETC attributed the strength of the UK outbound market to the fact that the country has the biggest number of budget airline services in Europe.The ETC’s ‘European Tourism Insights 2006-Outlook for 2007’ report also shows that strongest growth in UK visitor arrivals last year was seen by Montenegro, with a 67.4% increase, ahead of Finland with 45.5%. They were followed by Poland (+32%), Latvia (+30.8%), Slovakia (+22.1%), Lithuania (+21.2%), Norway (+19%), Monaco (+14%) and Bulgaria and Germany (both +12.2%).The biggest losers were the Czech Republic, where UK arrivals declined by 13.8% from 2005, Hungary (-11.4%), Malta (-10.6%), Turkey (-6.7%) and Romania (-4.8%).Of the traditionally strongest UK outbound markets in Europe, France and Spain had near-flat years, with arrivals up just 1.6% and 1.1% respectively, while Italy saw an increase of 8%. There were no figures available for Portugal or Greece.Europe accounted for 76% of all UK outbound trips last year, of which 66% were for leisure, 17% visiting friends and relatives and 13% for business.Looking ahead to 2007, the ETC said higher interest rates and the prospect of falling house prices had destabilised the UK market somewhat, ‘leading some observers to believe that outbound travel could suffer’ this year.But it added that foreign travel remained a major priority for the British, and was now considered far more important than acquiring any kind of consumable goods, even if a lot of it was paid for on credit. ‘Travel now, pay later’ is the motto for an increasing number of British travellers in the lower to middle socio-economic groups, the ETC concluded.The Brussels-based ETC is a non-profit organisation that represents 38 national tourism organisations. Its remit is to promote tourism to Europe, primarily from non-European markets.