June 16, 2009 / 3:39 PM / 10 years ago

Crisis dents European holiday plans: survey

PARIS (Reuters) - Fewer Europeans plan to head away on holiday this summer but the recession seems to have done next to nothing to Italian appetites for vacation, a survey published on Tuesday shows.

The number of Europeans planning to leave home for a holiday dropped three percentage points to 64 percent this year from 2008, with the French cutting back most, according to the survey by polling agency Ipsos, which contacted 3,500 people in seven countries.

Budget-wise, British tourists, hit also by a decline in the exchange rate of the pound, expect spending to fall considerably more than holidayers in other countries, according to the survey, conducted between February 16 and March 27, Ipsos said.

The percentage of people planning a holiday of at least four nights dipped three percentage points on average but the fall for the French was eight points, far more than in any of the other countries surveyed — Italy, Britain, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Germany.

Italians topped the vacation table with 76 percent planning a break away this summer, down just one point from last year. However, Italians had a bigger preference than all others for holidaying in their own country.

The average vacation budget, at 2,066 euros across countries surveyed, will be down six percent this year. But for Britons it will decline 14 percent, more than twice as much as those with the next biggest drop, France and Spain, down six percent.

Again, Italians appear to be cutting back less, with holiday budgets there seen dropping four percent from 2008, the survey results showed.

While the impact of the economic crisis may be considerable, Europeans seemed largely indifferent when planning holidays, especially on transport choice, Ipsos said in a statement.

“They tend to live with the crisis wherever that is still possible, rather than radically change their lifestyle,” said the statement.

The economy of the 27-country European Union as well as the 16-country euro zone within the EU is forecast by the European Commission to shrink 4 percent this year while the jobless rate is expected to rise roughly 50 percent.

Some economists believe low inflation will nonetheless help to offset the toll by supporting consumer spending power.

For more on the holiday survey, click on the link below. here

Reporting by Brian Love; editing by Stephen Nisbet

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