Donald Martin & Son Reports Decline in Traffic to Britain
“Travel to Britain dropped 5 percent in July despite -- actually, because of -- the Olympics (which opened July 27),” according to the monthly newsletter on trans-Atlantic travel from Donald N. Martin & Son. Traffic from the U.S. and Canada was down 9 percent, according to provisional figures from VisitBritain. A decline was not unexpected; most previous Summer Olympics host countries have reported that Games-related traffic sags. For the year, U.S. traffic to Britain is still up 4 percent; overall traffic is up 1 percent.
VisitBritain launched a new wave of promotions to exploit the momentum of the Olympics, seen by a vast global TV audience. The office acknowledged the drop-off in arrivals during the Games themselves (August figures may be even worse than July’s), but promised “to market the hell out of it and strike while the iron is hot.” Past Olympics host countries have frequently failed to roll out campaigns before the buzz had evaporated.
In the 14 cities targeted worldwide before the Olympics (including New York and Los Angeles), research found that 75 percent of recent travelers would now consider a holiday in Britain. That image campaign reached more than 90 million people, VisitBritain said.
The £13.5 million follow-up effort, a partnership with British Airways and other travel interests, includes a seven-month run of ads in National Geographic magazine, advertorials in Time Out magazines in select cities, and a new video, “Memories are GREAT,” positioned on consumer websites around the world. On offer are specific packages and prices. Target countries include the U.S., India, China, Japan and the Middle East.
U.S. travel to Europe barely rose in July, up only 0.8 percent for the month, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce. That compared to an increase of 4.7 percent for the first two months of the peak season. Thus U.S. visits finally began to reflect the low-growth trend of overall trans-Atlantic traffic. Overall trans-Atlantic traffic was flat in August for the fifth consecutive month, with the leading carriers that are charted by Donald N. Martin & Company reporting an average increase of 0.4 percent. The carriers reduced capacity by an average 0.1 percent and maintained a high average load factor of 88.2, down only slightly from June’s average 88.9.