British Holidaymakers Appear Oblivious to Brexit

British Holidaymakers Appear Oblivious to Brexit

Whilst the leaders of the travel industry are getting hot and bothered about Brexit, fearing long queues at passport control, a lack of agreed regulations governing flights between Britain and the EU and enormous difficulties hiring staff, British holidaymakers appear oblivious to their concerns, reveals research release today (Monday 5th November) at World Travel Market London.

New research from ForwardKeys – which analyses more than 17 million booking transactions a day – has been specially commissioned for the opening of World Travel Market London. It reveals that, as of the beginning of October, forward air bookings by Brits for 2019 summer (defined as April to September) to EU destinations are ahead by 5.7% compared to the same point last year.

By comparison, British bookings to destinations beyond the EU are currently 28.5% ahead. One year ago, the growth rate of forward bookings to non-EU destinations was 4.3%.

Year-on-year growth of bookings made for summer trips
  UK to the EU UK to destinations beyond the EU
Comparable bookings made for 2019 summer +5.7% +28.5%
Comparable bookings made for 2018 summer +5.7% +4.3%
Forward bookings from the UK to the EU vs. the worldwide destinations excluding the EU for trips during summer months April-September 2019 vs. 2018 vs. 2017. Bookings were made by 30 September 2018 vs. 2017 vs. 2016.

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “When we interrogate the flight booking data, looking at trends in the UK outbound market, the best description is ‘business as usual’ or if anything, the future looks brighter!”

For the 2018 summer holiday season (Apr-Sept), 28% of trips by British travellers to the EU were booked more than six months in advance, 32% were booked during the first quarter of the year, and 40% were booked during the season itself.

Therefore, whilst it is too early in the booking cycle to predict reliably how good the holiday season will be, the initial indications are positive.

Olivier Ponti continued: “We do not see anything much in the data to confirm a ‘Brexit effect’ on people’s booking behaviour for EU destinations currently. However, January is traditionally a very important month for holiday bookings, so if there is still no Brexit deal by then and consumers start panicking, the outlook could rapidly start to look very different.”

Looking back on the year to October, outbound travel from the UK grew by 3.2%. Besides the World Cup in Russia, which attracted many British soccer fans, the winning destinations were in the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa. Those destinations that were troubled by security fears, terror attacks, and UK Government travel bans three years ago are, at last, growing again in 2018. Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey registered impressive growth rates and a gain in market shares, at the expense of Spain, Portugal and, to a lesser extent, Italy. The fastest growing destinations for British travellers in 2018 were all non-EU countries.

Year-on-year changes of numbers of British arrivals in the destination

January-September 2018

Popular non-EU destinations Popular EU destinations
Turkey +57.5% Spain -1.8%
Egypt +42.3% Greece +11.2%
Tunisia +461.9% Italy +2.2%
Portugal -0.7%


Ponti added: “The Aviation industry started its 2018/19 winter season last week and total available seats on the scheduled flights between the UK and the EU increased by 3.4%, compared to the previous winter season. This appears to be a vote of confidence in the market – particularly when, by contrast, capacity over the summer was 0.5% less than summer 2017.  As for next summer, seat capacity provides no clear picture yet, because at least two main airlines operating between the UK and the EU are currently hesitant to share their schedules with the industry.”

Paul Nelson, WTM Portfolio Press & PR Manager, said: “Although consumer confidence appears to be undented, many of our exhibitors have seen Brexit as a massive cloud on the horizon for more than two years and time is running out fast. The warning from ForwardKeys about the crucial January booking period should urge politicians to seal a deal as soon as possible, to ensure that consumer confidence is maintained and that travellers can continue to cross the borders between the UK and Europe seamlessly.”

ForwardKeys Opens up the UK
5 November (10:30 – 11:30)
Press Conference Theatre – International Media Centre – ME580


About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises six leading B2B events across four continents, generating more than $7 billion of industry deals. The events are:


WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. About 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating about £3.1 billion of travel industry contracts. Next event: 5-7 November 2018 – London.


Travel Forward is a new travel technology event co-located with WTM London 2018 and part of the WTM portfolio of events. The inaugural Travel Forward conference, exhibition and buyer programme will take place on 5–7 November 2018 at ExCeL London, showcasing next-generation technology for travel and hospitality.


WTM Latin America attracts about 9,000 senior executives and generates about US$374 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 8,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. Next event: 2-4 April 2019 – Sao Paulo.


WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: 10-12 April 2019 – Cape Town.


Arabian Travel Market is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2018 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, with representation from 141 countries over the four days. The 25th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. To find out more, please visit:

Next event: 28th April-1st May 2019 – Dubai.


About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events business, enhancing the power of face-to-face through data and digital tools at more than 500 events a year, in more than 43 countries, attracting more than seven million participants. Reed’s events are held in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.


About Reed Travel Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism events organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether they are global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have more than 35 years’ experience in organising world-leading travel exhibitions.


More information, please contact:

Paul Nelson – WTM Portfolio PR Manager


T: +44 (0)20 8910 7032/ M: +44 (0)79 1955 5510


Natalia Hartmann – WTM Portfolio PR Executive


T: +44 (0)20 8439 5535/ M: +44 (0)74 0336 7331



About ForwardKeys

ForwardKeys analyses more than 17m flight booking transactions a day, drawing data from all the major global air reservation systems and selected airlines and tour operators.  This information is enhanced with further independent data sets, including flight search and official government statistics, plus data science to paint a picture of who is travelling where and when. ForwardKeys’ analytics are used by travel marketers, retailers, hotels, destination marketing organisations (DMOs), financial institutions, car rental companies, tour operators, online travel agents (OTAs) and other traveller-focussed businesses worldwide to monitor and anticipate traveller arrivals from a particular origin market at a specific time.  This analysis enables parties to anticipate the impact of events, better manage their staffing levels, fine tune supply requirements, adjust and measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and anticipate future market trends.


For further information, please contact Sophie Luis, on +44 (0) 20 7112 8556 or David Tarsh, on +44 (0) 20 7602 5262.

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World Travel Market brings the travel industry together through world leading events, content and digital tools, that make it easier for you to find personal and business opportunities and do more effective business.

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