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Travelers are spending more on ‘affordable luxury’, study says

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A panel of professionals during the presentation of the WTM 2023 Global Report in London
The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report was compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics

A new research from World Travel Market London 2023, has revealed that “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular – despite the squeeze on many holidaymakers’ budgets.

The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report – compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics – has revealed that consumers generally remain determined to go on holiday and plenty are still prioritising upmarket options.

The report, unveiled on 6 November during the travel and tourism event taking place in London, says “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular “amid promising sentiment overall”.

It explains that this growth area in travel aligns with a broader trend for consumers to seek out new and unique experiences on holiday.

“After the pandemic and restrictions on travel, many have wanted to upgrade their experience…as consumers proactively catch up on missed tourism experiences,” says the report.

The report notes: “Consumers unaffected by economic downturns are likely to continue opting for luxury destinations.

The report cites United States consumer data from MMGY which suggests that the cost of living is having more of an effect on households with annual incomes under $50,000.

However, those earning more indicated a “high likelihood” of future travel.

Nonetheless, the report warns that some of the post-pandemic drivers of travel demand may have “gone into reverse in recent months”, posing a risk to continued expansion.

It points to persistently high costs and the recovery of sterling and the euro, which is making the purchasing power of the US dollar weaker in Europe.

The price of jet fuel is significantly higher than at the start of the year, putting pressure on air fares.

Consumers’ personal disposable income is also under pressure as their own transport and other living costs rise.

Despite these headwinds, the report notes: “Higher costs have not yet been a significant deterrent to growth and travellers appear willing to pay higher prices.”

“We are witnessing a remarkable resilience as people are still prioritising travel and many are seeking ‘affordable luxury’, such as higher rated accommodation or premium economy and business cabins instead of economy”, says Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director at WTM London.

Meanwhile, the travel industry continues to face supply side problems, amid geopolitical events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and staff shortages still affect many markets because large numbers of workers switched to other sectors during the pandemic. 

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Travel

Baros Maldives appoints new PR agency in the UK

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR Agency in the UK
Maldives is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year

Global independent marketing and communications agency, FINN Partners, has been appointed by Baros Maldives and Milaidhoo Maldives to lead on PR and digital services, in the United Kingdom.

FINN Partners communications strategy will focus on tactics that will generate coverage and awareness to showcase the independent, locally and family-owned properties, highlighting what sets them apart from other resorts in the Maldives. 

“With the UK being an important market for us, we look forward to working with FINN Partners to help build brand awareness in the UK for both Baros and Milaidhoo Maldives, by bringing to life the uniqueness of each property and what sets both resorts apart from other luxury resorts in the Maldives,” says Visha Mahir, Chief Operating Officer at Universal Resorts Management.

Maldives is home to 176 resorts and over 800 guesthouses. According to  the Ministry of Tourism, the country is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year.

“Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s an honour to be representing Baros Maldives, ‘The Maldives Icon’. We very much look forward to communicating the private island resorts truly authentic Maldivian offerings to media. We are also excited to showcase how Milaidhoo Maldives, set in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, embraces a contemporary way of living the Maldivian heritage and culture complemented by a wide range of curated meaningful experiences on offer to guests in addition to exceptional cuisine, personalised service, and attention to detail,” says Debbie Flynn, Managing Partner and Global Travel Practice Leader, FINN Partners.

The FINN Partners UK Travel portfolio also includes destinations such as Italy, Greater Palm Springs, The Bahamas and brands including Travelzoo, Intrepid and Accor. 

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Travel

Searches for ‘quiet life’ soars by 530%

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a female solo traveler in a mountain trip
The quest for a more serene lifestyle is on the rise, a recent report by Pinterest reveals | Photo: Artur Voznenko

Searches for enigmatic destinations are rising as travellers crave places promising a blend of wonder, adventure and the unexplored, according to a recent Pinterest Summer 2024 Travel Report.

With over one billion travel-related searches and over 10 billion travel saves in one year, the platform has become a source of inspiration for those planning a future trip.

8 out of 10 weekly Pinterest users turn to Pinterest when planning their summer escapades. Since last year, searches for ‘travel vision board’ and ‘packing guide’ have skyrocketed by 210% and 480% respectively as travellers curate their bucket lists and gear up for unforgettable journeys. 

However travellers are not looking only for adventurous things to do while on vacation.

The quest for a quieter, more serene lifestyle is on the rise, with searches for ‘quiet life’ soaring by 530% according to a report by Pinterest. As the longing for simplicity has extended to travel, since 2023, searches for ‘quiet places’ and ‘calm places’ have increased by 50% and 42% respectively. Pinners are searching for digital detox travel: many sought-after nature destinations offer a respite from the constant buzz of connectivity and digital distractions, providing a much-needed break. Solo travel emerges as a liberating choice, granting individuals the freedom to craft their itinerary, pace and priorities without compromise. Whether basking in the tranquillity of a secluded beach or meandering through serene countryside landscapes, these experiences contribute to self-care and overall well-being. Increase in specific searches include solo travel (up +35%), glamping aesthetic (+260%), Cabin in the mountains (+180%), Village vibes (+145%), Island life (+30%), and searches for national parks, which increased +250% since last year.

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Travel

Britons holidaying abroad are getting more value for money

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A elderly British couple holidaying abroad.
Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 popular currencies over the past 12 months | Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

Strong currency performance puts more cash in pockets of Britons holidaying abroad

Rising rates for sterling mean holidaymakers can look forward to getting more for their money in the vast majority of holiday destinations this year, according to new exchange rate analysis by Post Office Travel Money for its regular Holiday Money Index survey of currency rates and sales trends.

Sterling has strengthened in value against 21 of Post Office Travel Money’s 25 bestselling holiday currencies over the past 12 months but the amount by which Britons can hope to benefit varies quite significantly from one destination to another. While Britons can expect to receive 3.8 per cent more than a year ago when changing their pounds into euros and 5.5 per cent more US dollars, they will get far more for their money when visiting Turkey, Kenya and Japan.

The Exchange Rate Monitor, published as part of the Holiday Money Index, reveals that Britons visiting Turkey will currently get around 73 per cent more liras for the pounds than a year ago – the equivalent of almost £211 extra on a £500 currency purchase. This rises to 113.5 per cent – or £266 extra – over two years.

Sterling has also gained almost 21 per cent in value against the Kenyan shilling and 15.7 per cent against the Japanese yen compared with a year ago. Although the dramatic fall in value of the Egyptian pound reported in last year’s Holiday Money Index has bottomed out, it is still 6.3 per cent weaker than last March. Cumulatively, this means visitors will receive around £234 (88 per cent) more on a £500 currency transaction now than two years ago.

There have also been sizeable sterling gains against the currencies for a trio of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers – Prague (Czech Republic: +12.7 per cent), Thailand (Thai baht: +9.9 per cent) and South Africa (South African rand: +9.2 per cent), while Britons visiting friends and family in Australia will get 8.5 per cent more holiday cash for their pounds.

Only four currencies – the Polish zloty, Mexican peso, Costa Rican colon and Swiss franc – have gained ground against sterling. The pound’s biggest fall of 4.3 per cent year-on-year has been against the Polish zloty, although this is eclipsed by two year losses of over 20 per cent against the Costa Rican colon and Mexican peso.

Sterling’s current buoyancy against most leading holiday currencies – including the euro and US dollar – provides a great incentive for Britons considering trips abroad in the coming months. Most currencies have weakened against the pound in the past year, and many of these are for destinations that traditionally offer the cheapest prices for meals, drinks and other tourist staples. Good examples of this range from Turkey and the Czech Republic in Europe to Kenya, Thailand and Vietnam further afield,” says Laura Plunkett, Head of Travel Money at Post Office.

The latest analysis of currency sales by Post Office Travel Money, which accounts for one-in-four of all UK foreign exchange transactions, reveals that sales of 16 of its 20 bestselling currencies have risen over the past 12 months (February 2023-January 2024). It also observes that many of these currencies are continuing to show marked growth in 2024 to date.

Reviewing sales for January 2024, Post Office Travel Money reports that Caribbean currencies have seen the most dramatic year-on-year growth among its 20 bestselling currencies. In particular, it found that East Caribbean and Barbados dollar purchases rocketed by 103 per cent and 64 per cent respectively in January – outperforming growth levels by rival destinations in the Far East.

However, taking at the year as whole, seven Far Eastern currencies dominate the top 10 chart of Post Office Travel Money’s currencies showing the greatest levels of growth. The biggest percentage sales increase was for the Chinese yuan, which recorded a spectacular 573 per cent year-on-year rise, albeit against very low sales the previous year when visits to China were off limits.

The euro and US dollar remain by far the most popular holiday currencies, topping the chart for the past year as they have consistently done – and a sales increase of nine per cent in January made the euro the 10th fastest growing currency for that month.

Demand for aspirational destinations is also particularly strong. Both the Australian dollar, third in the Post Office bestsellers top 10, and New Zealand dollar, ninth in the table, have built on the exceptional currency growth seen a year ago when Australia and New Zealand re-opened to international visitors.

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