Package holidays back in vogue as recession-struck families seek value as well as sun


According to ABTA, almost half the Britons holidaying abroad in 2012 opted for package deals. 48% chose a foreign package this summer, an increase of 6% on 2011 and of 29% on 2010.

Package holiday - ABTA

The travel body's statistics suggest that while families remain keen to travel abroad, they also want the value for money and financial security of packages which combine hotels and flights.

Other figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that recently Britons have taken fewer holidays, decreasing from an average of 3.82 per person in the 12 months to September 2011 to 3.5 in the year to September 2012.

The popularity of package holidays – estimated by ABTA to be some 60% in the 1970s – declined as internet booking became more common. According to the ONS, 56% of European holidays in 2000 were packages, dropping to 39% by 2007.

The figures also found a rise in domestic holiday packages. Vacations such as coach tours and rail breaks increased to 23% in 2012 compared to 12% in 2011 and 14% in 2010.

The number of consumers booking separate travel and accommodation as 'DIY' holidays has slightly decreased. 39% of respondents said they had booked a foreign trip themselves in 2012, 4% less than in 2011.

ABTA stressed that customers now have the guidance of star ratings and an easy booking process. Head of communications Victoria Bacon said consumers also value the "security and cost-effectiveness" of package holidays.

"At the same time the market has also evolved to offer greater choice to holidaymakers. It's no longer just a week in Benidorm," said Ms Bacon.

"The market is now very sophisticated, with packages to cater for every taste and budget – whether you want 2 weeks all-inclusive in the sun, a cruise around Asia or an adventure holiday in South America."

According to ABTA, the number of people booking an overseas holiday through a high-street agent rose slightly, from 25% in 2011 to 27% in 2012.

Nick Harris, Head of Travel Law at Simpson Millar commented: "It's vital that consumers are aware of the difference between package and DIY holiday as it's only if you book a package holiday that you are covered by the Package Travel Regulations 1992 which mean you are entitled to compensation back in the UK if there are problems with your holiday due to accidents or illness at hotels abroad."

"Always check before booking e.g. if you paid one price for the whole holiday it is probably a package holiday if the items and costs are listed separately it could be a DIY package holiday which is not the same and does not have the same regulatory cover."

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