There have been a few rumblings about the Top Cities blog I posted yesterday – and not just online. Some of my friends have asked me (and with good reason) how it could be that more of our customers are searching for hotels in places like Leeds and Bristol than in hotspots of world travel like Rome and Dublin.
To start with, let’s clarify: I was over-simplifying when I said that the Top Cities list represented our most searched for destinations – these cities/urban areas are the ones our customers have spent the most money on too and I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that London is at the top of this list.
Regarding our local towns – many of which have unfairly poor reputations as far as tourist destinations go – preceding glamorous overseas ones in the rankings, there are a number of ways we can interpret this. For starters, the high positioning of some destinations is clearly due to a business/convenience factor. For example, hotels near Gatwick Airport and in Hounslow (near Heathrow) ranked considerably higher in our top 100 than Berlin, Nice and Dubai.
But for me, the most obvious reason is the economic climate. Many studies are telling us that Brits will holiday at home this summer for several reasons, including lower household incomes due to redundancies and the weakness of sterling against the euro and the dollar. So surely it makes sense that local destinations will be more popular this year than foreign ones, no matter how strong their cultural draw may be?
The same works the other way round too. People I know in France and Spain have been telling me for years that they would love to see more of the UK – but that it is simply too expensive. The weakness of the pound means that loads of people who live in the eurozone – not to mention those in the US – are now able to come over and enjoy our sights for less than they would have one or two years ago.
As for the reader who was incredulous that Bournemouth or Bristol might rank higher than Munich and Venice – you might be interested to know that while Bournemouth and Bristol are nestled comfortably in our top 20 for the financial year so far, Venice and Munich are outside the top 100! I’m sure this will change as the year continues but I’m heartened to see people turning to local cities for breaks this year. Let’s hope we don’t forget them as the economy starts to recover!