Britons spent more money abroad this summer, but stayed closer to home

Nov 15, 2012 1:14 pm

Skift Take

The last minute rush by Brits to cram in a vacation before it was too late this year led to shorter trips and the willingness to spend more before the season was complete.

— Samantha Shankman

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More Britons have been overseas this year, but foreign arrivals have fallen, according to new figures.

Spending by British holidaymakers rose by seven per cent this summer, compared with the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Its research also indicated that many Britons delayed their summer holidays until after the Olympic Games. The number of overseas trips taken during September rose by five per cent to 6.49 million, while the total number of trips made during the three months of July, August, and September rose by just one per cent.

“Brits gave up waiting for the sun to appear and searched for a rain-free break beyond the UK,” said Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays. “Last minute bookings saw a marked increase with holidaymakers starting to turn their backs on staycations, and early sales of foreign holidays in 2013 are already encouraging.”

Fewer Britons took a long-haul holiday this summer, according to the research. Visits to North America fell by three per cent, and trips to other non-European destinations by two per cent. Rising Air Passenger Duty, which is paid by all air passengers departing from Britain, and which hits long-haul travellers the hardest, may be a factor behind the trend.

Britons have spent an estimated £26.5 billion abroad so far this year, an increase of five per cent on last year.

Meanwhile, the number of visitors to Britain fell by four per cent between July and September, despite the apparent draw of the Olympics.

Spending by those visitors, however, rose by six per cent.

Sandie Dawe, VisitBritain’s chief executive, said: “These figures offer us an ideal platform to create a golden tourism legacy going into 2013 and beyond.

“These encouraging numbers mean that visitors are on track to spend more in the UK than we initially forecast.”

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