By Humphrey Carter

THE threat of war in the Gulf and reprisals by terrorists is not going to put the resilient British off travelling and going on holiday this year. New research conducted by MORI for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found that 79 per cent of people who have taken a trip by plane in the past two years have either booked or intend to book an overseas holiday this year. The survey has discovered that 33 per cent have already booked a holiday. A further 29 per cent said that they intended to book and that the prospective war and terrorism would not affect their travel plans, while 17 per cent said that they intended to take a holiday but the war and the threat of terrorism would make them delay their decision. A further two per cent said that although they normally go on holiday overseas, they will probably take a holiday at home in the United Kingdom this year and four per cent said that they do not plan to go on holiday anywhere because of the proposed attack on Iraq. The research is the latest in a series of surveys ABTA has commissioned about holiday trends and attitudes. ABTA chief executive Ian Reynolds said yesterday “there is no doubt from these surveys that the desire for travel and for holidays (in the UK) remains strong, despite the political climate. “Previous experience with the last Gulf War found that although bookings dropped during hostilities, they returned after the cease fire and demand fell only by four per cent in 1991 overall,” he added. On the day the ITB Berlin travel fair opens in Germany under a cloud of doom and gloom with sources for the Balearic delegation to the fair admitting this year's event is “going to be a tough one,” Britain's resilience to war and global instability will serve to ease the Balearic tourism industry's fears for the summer season. Spain and the Balearics are still the most favourite holiday destinations in the United Kingdom.

German holiday bookings down 14%

Start Amadeus, the marketing arm of Madrid-based global reservations firm Amadeus, said yesterday German holiday bookings were down 14.5 percent last month on a year ago. “The decline over the previous year widened in February,” Start Amadeus, which estimates it handles around 85 percent of flight bookings in Germany, said at the start of the International Tourism fair in Berlin. Bookings were down 12 percent in January. Demand for travel has taken an additional knock from the threat of war in Iraq. “Iraq, Iraq, Iraq,” Start spokeswoman Dorothea Hohn said. “There is almost no other theme in public discussion. And therefore, people aren't booking holidays at the moment.” Germany remains the most important single market for Europe's leading travel firms TUI and Thomas Cook, which is jointly owned by retailer KarstadtQuelle and German airline Lufthansa. TUI, the world's biggest travel firm, said yesterday bookings have almost come to a halt. Its chief executive is due to give further details at the International Tourism fair today. Start said that among business travellers the year-on-year drop in demand widened slightly in February to 8.8 percent from eight percent in January.


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