2010 cheers up holiday firms after 10% fall this summer

The travel industry has seen a 10% drop in overall summer bookings this year, but is looking at a more robust season in 2010 with figures so far showing a rise in average spend per booking.

The data comes as industry association ABTA holds its annual conference this week.

Specialist research company GfK Ascent-MI says that all-inclusive holidays regained their appeal in 2009 with sales up 18% for the season. They accounted for 22% of all bookings.

But the number of booked cruises dropped 9%, in line with the market, and budget holidays also lost their appeal, with 1.3 million passenger bookings lost for the under-£600 vacations sector.

Holidays sold by direct channels also lost a chunk of their value with average prices down £3.

The winter season looks set to be the hardest hit by the recession with cumulative bookings down 20% while direct bookings have fallen 25%. Bookings made through the high street are holding up in terms of average spend.

Looking to next year, GfK Ascent MI says August bookings are 15% up on the same period in 2008 and average spend is up £27 per booking.

The cruise market seems to be bouncing back, with bookings up 29% so far and eight-to-13-nights holidays increasing their appeal, accounting for 11% of bookings.

Managing director of the research company Sarah Smalley says: “The key is to recognise profitable trends early.”

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