The pictures of forlorn travellers amidst the chaos that engulfed Heathrow’s brand new 5th terminal on its opening day and the UK’s weakening currency may lead to more people visiting Brighton.
With dozens of flights cancelled and thousands of travellers departing without their luggage, the pictures of Heathrow’s £4.3bn T5 terminal beamed across the world were a PR disaster for airport operator BAA and airline British Airways.
They have also brought into sharp relief an increasingly common experience for many air passengers which, while not as extreme as T5, is one of crowded airports, unacceptable delays with poor information and worries about baggage not ending up in the same destination as the traveller.
Business travel agent Carlson Wagonlit has reported that following the problems at T5 they have been inundated with requests to find alternative mean from travellers expecting to fly in the next two weeks to UK destinations. Almost half were switching to rail.
Over 80% of flights in the UK are leisure journeys but if the start and end of the journey is not particularly leisurely many people may choose to cut back on their flights abroad and look closer to home for their second or third holiday of the year.
Sustainable tourism bodies realise that the public are unlikely to give up flying altogether so they urge us to “fly less and stay longer” which makes those UK destinations accessible by sustainable transport an attractive second holiday proposition for the environmentally minded.
Add to this the fact that the strength of the Euro has made any European destination a markedly more expensive prospect than this time last year (the £ has lost 18% of its value against the Euro since last summer) and we could see the start of a national tourism bonanza. It may be too late for this year because people tend to book their holidays somewhat in advance but if summer weather in the UK is reasonable in 2008, many people may be revisiting their options for 2009.
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