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Tourism's coming home

01 January 2000
Tourism's coming home

New research from NOP, carried out exclusively for Caterer & Hotelkeeper, establishes that the British Isles is still the single most popular holiday destination for British adults.

Just under half the 1,000 people interviewed by NOP during the third week of June this year had either already booked a holiday or were definitely intending to go away for at least six days in July, August or September. Of this total of holiday-makers, four out of 10 will take a summer holiday in the British Isles this year.

One in 10 of the adult British population has already booked a holiday in the UK, but a similar number are still to confirm their destination details, although they will definitely stay in the UK. This means that at least nine million inhabitants, plus their accompanying children, will be on their way to British resorts and beauty spots this summer, and half that number are still in the market for a holiday.

England will take the lion's share of domestic tourism, with 73% of UK holiday-makers planning to visit, compared with 13% going to Scotland, and 9% to Wales. The Channel Islands and Northern Ireland each attract 5% of holiday-makers, and 1%, about 100,000, are going to the Isle of Man.

UK holidays are particularly popular among families with children. Adults with children under 15 will account for four out of 10 adult British holiday-makers, although they represent 31% of all adults, and one-third of all holiday-makers.

But there is a shortfall in the youngest age group, the 15- to 24-year-olds. They make up only 11% of people holidaying in the UK, although they represent 17% of the population. This age group has a slightly more marked propensity to take a summer holiday than do average adults, who make up 19% of all holiday-makers. Foreign destinations, particularly Continental Europe, are more attractive to the under-25s than the domestic equivalent.

Another significant shortfall is among the most upmarket consumers, the ABC1 social group. These more affluent people are more likely than others to be taking a summer holiday, but less likely to stay in the UK. The 45% of the population in the ABC1 grade range represent 54% of summer holiday-makers but take only 42% of the stay-at-home holidays.

Types of holidays planned

Camping/caravanning and self-catering are the two most popular sorts of UK holidays, each type chosen by three out of 10 holiday-makers, and both types are particularly attractive to families with children. One-quarter of vacationers will stay in serviced accommodation, 15% in a hotel on a full- or half-board basis, 2% in hotels on an accommodation-only basis, and 7% in a boarding house or B&B.

All-in holidays are planned by 18% of all customers, 10% in a holiday camp and 8% on a package holiday. Cruising or boating accounts for 3%. The remaining 16% will stay with friends or relatives, but will still probably be in the market for entertainments and eating out.

Eight out of 10 self-catering holidays and two-thirds of package holidays had already been booked before the NOP survey took place in June.

But only one-third of people who base their holidays on hotel accommodation had made a definite booking, and the boarding house/B&B sector is even more dependent on late reservations - 85% of the people who intend to use this type of accommodation have yet to choose and book.

Sources of information used when choosing a UK holiday

The brochure is the most widely used source of information about holidays in the British Isles - 45% of intending holiday-makers have already consulted a brochure, and another 15% expect to. Brochures are a major factor in the choice of package holidays, self-catering accommodation and holiday camps - at least three-quarters of clients for these types of holidays use them in their selection.

Although travel agents are less important in the domestic than the foreign holiday market, one-quarter of domestic travellers used a travel agent as a source of information - as distinct from booking - for their UK holiday this summer, and half as many again intend to seek their advice. This compares favourably with the one-fifth of all domestic holiday-makers who get information from one of the UK tourist boards.

More customers use newspaper advertising than any other medium. Three out of 10 holiday-makers will consult newspaper advertisements, compared with one-fifth who use magazine ads. Teletext has a strong presence in this market, reaching one-quarter of customers, almost twice as many as television advertising.

Magazine advertising is particularly relevant to people booking hotel-based holidays - 20% of hotel customers used magazine ads when choosing their holiday, and another 23% intend to, more than twice as many as for any other sector. Magazine advertising also has a higher profile among the most affluent target market, the ABs.

The NOP findings point to the usefulness of appearing in the magazines now, to attract late summer bookers.

The research highlights the importance of personal experience and recommendation in the UK holiday trade. Forty-three per cent of holiday-makers are returning to a destination, or even the same hotel, that they have used before; another 10% will be swayed by their past experience. Three out of 10 people have taken up a recommendation from a friend or relative, and nearly one-fifth think that they are likely to follow the same path.

Together, these factors emphasise the importance of customer satisfaction, the most solid foundation for building a business.

NOP Research Group interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults using its Weekend Telephone Omnibus

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