How much of an impact will the economy have on 2009 holidays?

That’s question that many in the travel trade would dearly like to know the answer to but, as always with such questions, it’s not possible to get a really definitive answer to it in advance.

Holidays and vacations are discretionary expenses which means that they’re among the first to be cut back on when times get tough and this seems to be one of those particular times. However, many people don’t want to skip a vacation so what you could see in this area are people taking shorter vacations, downgrading the accommodation that they stay in, and probably using local or short-haul trips rather than heading for long haul destinations.  We’ve already noticed that this year with the poor exchange rate encouraging Americans to book via a hostel site rather than via a hotel booking site and that will likely become much more common in the coming year.

Added to the problem of getting the money saved or available on credit is the exchange rate problem for overseas holidays. We’ve seen the pound/euro rate moving from around 1.30 to more like 1.00 in a very short period of time ie a holiday from the UK to Europe has risen in price by around 30% even if the base price remained the same (which, of course, it rarely does). Throw in hikes in price from the airlines and that means a substantial rise in the cost of your holiday.

So what will the outcome be? Well, on our listing sites we’ve seen the traffic drop around 80% compared to the same period last year which implies a very substantial drop in bookings in 2009 for many people. Notable too is the increase in the number of adverts we’re taking onboard which implies that the owners are ramping up their advertising early presumably because they’ve had fewer than usual booking enquiries. However, even if both those indications are pointing towards much lower bookings in the year to come it could be that people are simply postponing their bookings until the economic picture clears up.

In reality I suspect that there will be a lot of last-minute bookings in 2009 but that overall there will be a lot fewer people going on holiday which could mean some great discounts on the more expensive holidays if you’re prepared to wait. Unfortunately, it’ll also mean that your choice will be much more limited in 2010 as many travel related businesses will be closing up in the coming year.

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