Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Thu July 14 2016

More Britons Traveling Domestically after Terror Attacks, Brexit Vote

Destination & Tourism | Josh Lew | July 14, 2016

More Britons Traveling Domestically after Terror Attacks, Brexit Vote

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A new informal survey by the U.K. website Vouchercodes shows that a majority of Britons will stay home or travel domestically this year instead of spending their vacation on the continent.

The survey said that 51 percent of people will stay in Great Britain instead of traveling abroad. This is a seven percent increase in the number of domestic travelers compared to 2015. 

Terrorism fears are still high

There are a couple of reasons for the rise of domestic travel in the U.K. Terrorism fears are certainly at an all-time high. Attacks in Brussels, Paris and, recently, Istanbul, have put travelers all across Europe on edge. The U.K. is no exception. 

The Euro 2016 soccer tournament, thought to be a major target for terror groups, went off without a hitch in France. This could raise the confidence level for some travelers, but with three major headline-grabbing attacks in Europe in the last year alone, fear obviously still plays a role in some travelers’ decision to stay home. 

READ MORE Brexit: When the Unimaginable Happens 

Other factors at play

But terror fears are not the main reason for the shift towards domestic tourism in the U.K. After attacks in Tunisia and Egypt last year, British travelers simply shifted their focus to other destinations that were still deemed safe. More went to Cyprus and the Canary Islands, for example. These destinations still have safe images this year, so there must be other reasons contributing to the desire to travel domestically.  

The pound is falling

The main keywords for the U.K.’s domestic traveling trend are “value” and “cost.” 

The British pound has fallen since the Brexit vote. English travelers cannot get as many Euros as the used to on the foreign exchange market. Dirt cheap package vacations for Greece or the Balearics aren’t as attractive, in terms of cost, as they once were. 

Eighteen percent of the VoucherCodes survey respondents said that they could not afford to travel abroad this year. An additional 16 percent said that they thought traveling domestically would offer a better value than traveling to other countries. According to the survey, the biggest reason for traveling domestically was simply exploring more of the U.K. Thirty-two percent of respondents answered in this (rather vague) way. 

A silver lining for tourism industry in the U.K.?

Brexit, the forex markets and ongoing terrorism fears have created a kind of perfect storm. While much of the focus has been on the potential drop in outbound travel, the domestic market could actually benefit from the current trends. Not only are more British tourists going to places like Cornwall, Bath and the Lakes District, but travelers from the United States are looking at the U.K. as a real option thanks to the now-favorable dollar-to-pound exchange rate. 

In the past, England has been very expensive for Americans, with the exchange rate once rising to nearly $2 per pound. Things will seem much cheaper now that the rate is down to $1.32 per pound (as of this writing). 

So U.K. destinations could start to see more visitors as both international and domestic tourists look to the U.K. for value vacations.

Wait and see

Now that the dust has settled a bit after the shock of the Brexit vote, it is clear that markets and pundits had a knee-jerk reaction to the surprising result. A total exit from the EU, and all the changes that will come with it, is still a couple of years away. 

Some of the more level-headed British travelers have decided to let things calm down before they make any travel decisions. Five percent of the survey takers said that they were going to hold off on booking a vacation until the economy calms down.  

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