However, in contrast to the rise in visitor numbers, the average spend per visit has fallen year-on-year. The average spend per visit in Q2 was 6% (£35) lower at £553 (£76 per night) compared to £588 (£81 per night) last year and equates to a £281m drop in income for the UK economy.
The majority of tourists visiting the UK are from the USA and Europe where economies have performed poorly over the last twelve months. While this has not been enough to prevent people vacationing abroad, it has impacted on the amount people are prepared to spend when on holiday.
This has led to a rise in the number of tourists booking private holiday rental accommodation instead of hotels. The number of private holiday rental bookings in the UK has risen by nearly a tenth (8.5%) over the last five months. The average UK holiday room rent is now £55 per night compared to a hotel room which currently averages at £83 per night.
Radek Dobrolecki, director of WhereToSleep.co.uk comments: “Despite the gloomy economic outlook, holidays are still incredibly important to people. Individuals are reluctant to cut out their annual vacation altogether and are instead looking for ways to cut costs when abroad. Similarly, homeowners are on the lookout for ways of making a little extra money to help cover costs and more and more are choosing to rent out their spare rooms or entire properties on a short-term basis to holiday-makers. These are much cheaper than hotels on average and give travellers the opportunity to experience living away from the traditional tourist traps.”
A similar pattern has emerged among UK tourists travelling abroad. In Q2 2011 there were 5.2% more visits abroad by UK residents compared to the same period in 2010 (14.4m compared to 13.7m), but UK tourists spent less per visit than the previous year. On average, UK tourists spent £548 per trip (£52 per night) compared to £586 (£53 per night) last year with the cost of holiday accommodation being the key area of cost reduction. In an independent One Poll survey of 2,000 UK holidaymakers, 50.6% of respondents said the cost of accommodation was the most important factor when deciding where to stay; this is in contrast to the 18% who said cleanliness was most important.
Radek Dobrolecki continues: “For many, the cost of accommodation has become a deal breaker when it comes to holidaying abroad and these travellers are crying out for cheaper alternatives to expensive hotel rooms. In some of the most popular travel destinations private holiday lets are up to 65% cheaper than the average hotel room rate so there are enormous savings to be made as well as experiencing something a little different when travelling abroad.”
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