This post examines how British travel habits have changed over the last few years, in particular from 2006 to 2013 (September 2012 to August 2013 inclusive). The focus of the post is main holidays by air, assuming that only a small proportion of travellers will travel by car, train to the Mediterranean.
Figure 1 shows the major destination countries for 2006 and 2013. France is excluded due to the heavy presence of tunnel and ferry traffic between the UK and France.
Figure 1: Return Trips by Air to Mediterranean Countries
From the country-wide figures, it is evident that:
- Spain is overwhelmingly the top country destination;
- The Canary Islands receives almost two UK visitors for each member of its population (2.1 million); and
- Whilst some countries have shown a significant increase over the period, others have stagnated are declined.
Figure 2 highlights countries which have shown particularly strong movements, upwards or downwards, during this period.
Figure 2: Changes in Demand for Highlighted Countries
Of all the countries or regions covered, the Canary Islands suffered worst in the general recession, with trips declining by over 20% from the 2006 base. The Islands have since made a strong recovery from this low point but the number of trips in the year to August 2013 is just slightly above 2006 levels.
Turkey and Egypt both suffered drops in 2011; in the case of Egypt, 2011 trips fell by 25% or so in just one year. In the case of Turkey, the small drop appears to have been a blip in its high level of continuous growth. Of all the countries examined, Greece stands out as having falls in demand over three consecutive years (2009, 2010 and 2011). In the case of both Egypt and Greece, the perception of being a risky place to take a holiday appears to have diminished.
As these figures will include city breaks and business trips, a more appropriate level of focus may be the foreign airport. The airports selected have a minimum of 250,000 return trips per annum and are overwhelmingly leisure-oriented. Nice has been included in this selection as the distance from the UK makes it likely that the majority of trips are undertaken by air.
Figure 3: Return Air Trips to Selected “Resort” Airports
The average change increase in this selection of airports was 13% (shown as the solid black line in figure 4 below) and we can see which holiday regions have shown significant increases above and below this average since 2006.
Figure 4: change in Demand at Resort Airports
Turkish resorts are the clear winners from this analysis and in Greece, Rhodes and Corfu have expanded at the expense of Crete (Heraklion). Of the Spanish resorts (including the Canary Islands), Arrecife (Lanzarote) has performed best over the last seven years, but performance remains weak compared to Turkish and Egyptian resorts as well as Malta and Faro. Lanzarote also had the smallest drop in demand in the Canary Islands from 2006 to 2009 – 18% – whilst Gran Canaria lost a full one third of passengers from the UK over the same period.