The vibe from abroad: Where will the Brits be travelling in 2011?

What a year for travel 2010 has been; it began with the unprecedented closure of European airspace when that Icelandic volcano erupted, strikes by airline staff, the collapse of tour operators and subsequent vulnerability of independent and uninsured travellers, and came to a pitiful year-end when some major European airports were exposed for the weak link they are in the international travel chain when the weather gets bad.

But 2011 can only be better, can’t it? TripAdvisor’s annual travel trends survey that sampled 6 000 users has revealed that Brits are hesitantly positive about their travelling prospects, with 1 in 10 planning to holiday more often this year. The great British “staycation” also looks to be on the wane, with just 38% of those surveyed planning to stay at home for their holiday compared with 45% last year. Volunteering and adventure travel are set to rise in popularity, and long-haul travel is fighting its way back against the dominance of European city breaks, mid-haul sun-seeking and new destinations.

However, a note of caution here: The UK economy is not out of the woods yet; 2011 is widely expected to a tough year with more public sector job cuts, tax increases, a VAT increase on January 4, increased inflation and cost of basic foodstuffs, transport and fuel.

The sector the hardest hit will be the middle classes where households will be as much as £3 000 worse off. Brits will either be holidaying on plastic or throwing caution to the wind in desperation to get away from the doom and gloom. And then there is that royal wedding in April, and if latest reports are to be believed, travel agents have seen a surge in enquiries by Brits keen to get away – and not stay at home and drink tea with the neighbours at the many street parties that are a traditional feature when a royal does something momentous.

Where they are planning to go is not clear, but this must be an opportunity for Cape Town. Some likely destinations include:

Turkey: This destination continues to enjoy incremental growth from the UK market, as it sits outside the euro zone and can offer better value for money and reliable summer sunshine. Istanbul is set to become the world’s boom city in 2011, so expect even more travellers visiting the country for city breaks now as well as the traditional summer sun breaks.

New Zealand: With 66% of Brits planning to travel long-haul next year, according to TripAdvisor, 25 000 are forecast to head to the other side of the world for this autumn’s Rugby World Cup. As part of the biggest tournament in the country’s history, hundreds of events are being staged, including performances by Kiri Te Kanawa in Auckland and the transformation of Cathedral Square in Christchurch into a mini rugby pitch. There will be farmers’ markets, new wild food menus at hundreds of restaurants on the South Island, oyster festivals, and a wine festival bringing together more than 50 wineries in the Marlborough region.

Jordan and Morocco: Low-cost airlines have already opened up North Africa and given those seeking “a taste of Africa” the opportunity to do so over a long weekend, promising year-round sunshine within three hours flight time and at a reasonable cost. When easyJet begins its flights to Jordan in March, the expectation is that the destination will enjoy “the Morocco effect”.

South America: No travel review is now complete without a South American destination or hotel. Products tend to be in the luxury range, with exotic and eco-travel top of the list. Expect this to continue and build the closer we get to 2014 for the next FIFA World Cup™ and 2016 for the Olympic Games.

What is very much in South Africa’s favour in 2011 is the noticeable change in the manner and tone of reports now posted by the media since the World Cup. The tone now seems more measured, more grown-up. Some would say it shows a grudging respect for a country that hosted a highly successful World Cup and has seen the majority of fans return home with nothing but praise and good reasons for friends, colleagues and family to travel to South Africa, especially Cape Town, at a date in the future.

I wish you all a busy and prosperous travel year ahead.

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