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Holiday flight bookings to the UK are up despite inflation

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The United States tops the list of countries travelling to the UK this Christmas with 32% of flight bookings | Photo: Anete Lūsiņa

With its vibrant Christmas markets, abundant shopping opportunities and festive pubs aplenty, the UK has always been a popular choice for a holiday getaway. With only six weeks to go until the big day the Christmas countdown is officially on. But while last year’s Covid restrictions have come to an end, there’s now the cost of living crisis to consider. 

However, despite uncertainty around the cost of living crisis, travel appears to remain a priority as December bookings to the UK are up across the board. Although bookings are slowing down for domestic and international flights, total December bookings are up year-on-year since much of the bookings were made months ago. While international flights coming from outside Europe to the UK are up 105%, year-on-year, European flights are up 73%, with domestic flights up 38% over the same period.

As of end-October the top five origin countries travelling to the UK this Christmas were the United States comprising 32.12% of total flight bookings, perhaps taking advantage of the dollar rising against the Euro, Spain (8%), France (7%) Italy (7%) and Germany (7%). 

Looking at lead times over half of the bookings (51%) to the UK have been made over three months in advance and over two thirds (38%) made between two to three months, likely due to consumers seeking to secure favourable rates on flights. The majority of travellers are booking longer trips to the UK of 8-14 days (37%), with nearly a third (29%) staying up to a week and one fifth (20%) over a fortnight.

Despite the cost of living crisis, outbound holiday bookings are up 50% compared to the same time last year. Last month, 35% of all booked Christmas trips are for travel within Europe (+31%), 17% within Middle East and Africa (+39%), 17% within US & Canada (+32%), 8% South Asia (+29%), 7% Latin America and Caribbean (+46%), 6% Oceania (+495%), 6% Southeast Asia (+325%) and 3% East Asia (+339%). APAC and Oceania all had stronger travel restrictions in place this time last year which could be why we are seeing a larger uptick in bookings from UK travellers to these far-flung destinations.

“While the impact of the cost-of-living crisis is perhaps starting to be felt, our data shows travellers aren’t willing to sacrifice travel this Christmas season,” says Sam Eads, Senior Sales Director at Sojern, a provider of digital marketing solutions for travel. “Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and Tourist Boards should take note of those regions showing the most interest from inbound international travellers, and use intent data to reach these potential travellers with messaging from your particular destination. With 2022 holiday bookings up on 2021 levels overall we’ll be watching closely to see if demand for ‘revenge travel’ continues well into 2023 or starts to falter.”

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Disneyland Paris renames theme park in $2 billion revamp

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Facade os Disney Paris with Disney's characters standing in front of it
The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

Disneyland Paris has unveiled a new name for Walt Disney Studios Park as part of the park’s US$2 billion transformation.

Walt Disney Studios Park will become Disney Adventure World when the new immersive area, World of Frozen, opens.

The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

“We’re changing the story of Walt Disney Studios Park, evolving from ‘how it’s done’ soundstages to celebratory theatres and adventures that come to life in immersive worlds,” said Tom Fitzgerald, chief storytelling executive at Walt Disney Imagineering and senior creative executive for Disneyland Paris.

“These fully realised adventure worlds will become the focus of the park’s new identity and appear as realms that guests discover as they navigate deeper within the park and are invited to participate in adventures inspired by our most beloved stories.”

As part of the rebrand, the park’s entrance is also being reimagined, with the current design replaced with ‘crafted décor that pays homage to historic movie theaters in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole.’

“Embracing a transformation that involves the overhaul of more than 90 percent of Walt Disney Studios Park since its debut in 2002, we’re unveiling a fresh creative vision that has completely redefined our second gate,” said Natacha Rafalski, president of Disneyland Paris.

Previous investments in the property include World of Pixar, which opened at the park in 2021 and Avengers Campus (2022).

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EU economy forecast to grow 1.0% in 2024

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Expected economy growth is largely due to consumers spending more this year | Photo: Christiann Koepke

The Commission has published this week a new forecast for the European Union economy, with a more upbeat scenario for consumers. After a downturn in economic activity in 2023, inflation rates will continue to drop and the EU economy should gradually grow in 2024. This is largely driven by ‘consumers spending more, thanks to higher wages and more job opportunities,’ it is believed. 

Concretely, the EU economy should grow 1.0% in 2024. The euro area economy should reach 0.8% of growth. In 2025, GDP will grow even more. Meantime, EU inflation has fallen dramatically since it peaked in 2022. It is expected to wind down to 2.7% in 2024 and to 2.2% in 2025.  

The jobs market is also performing well. Despite the slowdown in activity, the EU economy created more than 2 million jobs in 2023. Activity and employment rates of people aged 20-64 hit new record highs in the last quarter of the year. In March 2024, the unemployment rate in the EU stood at a record low of 6.0%. 

Some challenges remain. For instance, investment growth is slowing since fewer new homes are being built, which affects various industries. As a result, it is expected that interest rates will drop more slowly than anticipated. 

The Commission publishes four economic forecasts throughout a given year, covering GDP and inflation data for all Member States, the EU and the euro area. 

In the UK the scenario is also looking positive, with the Office for National Statistics having recently confirmed that the UK unemployment rate for January to March 2024 (4.3%) is above estimates of a year ago (January to March 2023), and increased in the latest quarter. 

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Mango to strengthens its presence in the UK with 20 store openings

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Mango store facade at Oxford street, London
At the close of the 2023 financial year, Mango had 60 stores in the UK

Mango, one of Europe’s leading fashion groups, continues its expansion and brand consolidation plan in the UK with more than 20 store openings planned for 2024. Growth is focused on expanding its presence in London and Scotland, as well as the arrival for the first time in several cities in Northern Ireland and central and southern England.

“The UK is one of the priority markets for Mango’s international growth. The increased presence in London and our arrival this year in some cities where we have not been present until now will consolidate the Mango brand and help us to strengthen it internationally,” says Daniel López, Mango’s Director of Expansion and Franchising.

The company plans four store openings in London this year, in addition to last February’s opening of a store in the Windsor Yards shopping centre in the heart of historic Windsor, close to Windsor Castle

Mango will also increase its presence in Scotland with store openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for the first time will reach cities in Northern Ireland, as well as central and southern England. 

The new Mango store will incorporate the New Med Mediterranean-inspired store concept, reflecting the spirit and freshness of the brand. Sustainability and architectural integration are the key to this new design that conceives the Mango store as a Mediterranean home with different spaces in which warm tones and neutral colours predominate, combined with traditional, handcrafted, sustainable and natural materials such as ceramics, tuff, wood, marble, esparto grass and leather.

 
Mango has been present in the UK since 1999. In 2021, the company strengthened its presence in the country with the opening of a new flagship store on Oxford Street in London and three other stores in Manchester, Edinburgh and Derby. 

Last year, Mango opened more than 10 stores, mainly in the south and centre of the country, in major cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds. Key among them was the store opening in Westfield Stratford City, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. In addition, the company arrived for the first time in Brighton with a 470 m2 store in the Churchill Square shopping centre.

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