Sterling Slump and Tourist Trouble Spots Do Not Deter Resilient Brits

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Surprising sales trends from Hayes & Jarvis reveal that neither sterling's slump against most currencies nor the temporary troubles in some of the world's most popular destinations are deterring British holidaymakers from booking long haul holidays.

There has been a definite trend towards late bookings this year, with most long haul destinations significantly outperforming their sales for the past couple of years

Surprising sales trends from Hayes & Jarvis reveal that neither sterling's slump against most currencies nor the temporary troubles in some of the world's most popular destinations are deterring British holidaymakers from booking long haul holidays.

Instead Hayes & Jarvis reports holiday bookings up by more than 50 per cent in countries that have experienced more than their fair share of trouble in recent months, most notably Thailand and Sri Lanka. However the long haul specialist admits that the biggest gains are coming from late bookings, with clients keen to take advantage of some of the heavy discounts available on packages for travel within the next 12 weeks.

"There has been a definite trend towards late bookings this year, with most long haul destinations significantly outperforming their sales for the past couple of years," said Hayes & Jarvis Head of Commercial, Niel Alobaidi.

"Kenya stands out as the best seller - bouncing back well from the riots that damaged its tourism prospects in 2008 - but Sri Lanka and Thailand are also selling very strongly with sales up by more than 50 per cent in recent weeks. Of course the common denominator for these three destinations is that they are always competitive - but tactical discounting by hoteliers keen to attract business has helped to make them unbeatable value at the moment," he said.

Alobaidi points to the resilience of destinations like Thailand and Sri Lanka, which might have expected to suffer after they hit the headlines with anti-government protests and an escalation of the civil war with the Tamil Tigers. "We did see a short term blip in bookings for Thailand but these bounced back very quickly to make it one of our best performing destinations and, like Sri Lanka, it has seen a boost to late bookings recently as customers look to switch from Mexico."

More of a concern has been the sluggishness of the forward booking market but Alobaidi says that this is beginning to come back as the economy shows signs of green shoots and confidence returns to the holiday market.

Most surprisingly, while sterling may have slid by more than 23 per cent against the US dollar in the past year, Hayes & Jarvis says that early transatlantic bookings have never been so buoyant. "People are booking really early to secure the best deals in the USA and this applies not just to New York but to Las Vegas and Orlando as well. Despite the lower exchange rate for the pound from this time last year, the US dollar still represents great value and clients appear determined to make those traditional pre-Christmas shopping breaks to New York. As a result we are almost 60 per cent up year on year on winter bookings," said Niel Alobaidi.    

Best Selling Late Booking Destinations

1. Kenya                        
2. Sri Lanka
3. Bali
4. Thailand
5. China

Best Selling Early Bookers

1. New York City
2. Las Vegas
3. Orlando
4. Maldives
5. Mauritius

Late Deals for June:

ALL INCLUSIVE KENYA: Departing 13th June, seven nights at the three-star Diani Sea Lodge costs only £699 per person for an all-inclusive package including Kenya Airways flights from London Heathrow.

BARGAIN BREAK IN SRI LANKA: Departing 22nd June, eight nights at the four-star-plus Eden Resort & Spa on Beruwela beach costs just £499 per person - saving 34 per cent. The package includes B&B accommodation and return flights with Kingfisher Airlines from London Heathrow.

Book Early For The Best Autumn Packages:

AFFORDABLE MALDIVES: Departing 6th October, seven nights at Bandos, a lively four-star resort with live music, a spa and a range of sports including deep-sea fishing and a dive centre, costs £745 per person. The package includes B&B accommodation and Qatar Airways flights from London Heathrow. Book by 31st May.

BARGAIN BREAK IN THE SUNSHINE STATE: Departing 26th November, a seven night room only package at three-star Monumental Movieland, located opposite the Wet 'n Wild Water Park on Orlando's International Drive, costs £579 per person and includes BA flights from London Gatwick.

STAY AT ONE OF THE BIG APPLE'S LANDMARKS: Departing 2nd November, a three-night break at a New York institution, the New Yorker Hotel, costs £579 per person. The package includes room only accommodation at the three-star hotel and BA flights from London Heathrow.

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David Peiris

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