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Opportunities for optimism? – An insider’s view, Friday 26 May 2023

2023 has already been an eventful year in the travel sector. In his latest commentary, Matt Purser – Director of the Firebird Partnership – finds reasons to be positive.

As we slowly inch towards summer and the anticipated peak season for many travel businesses, the industry continues to be cautiously optimistic.

“After years of upheaval, consumers were wanting confidence”

Coming out of the pandemic there was a belief there would be some pent-up demand for outbound travel – but was that based on hope rather than reality?

Adding to the uncertainty was the fact that many consumers undertook staycations during the pandemic. After discovering and enjoying the UK, would more now be inclined to stay in Britain rather than travel abroad?

The January booking period proved to be successful. At the same time there was a sense that many were still holding off booking due to the credit crunch. After years of upheaval, consumers were wanting confidence that their trip would take place as planned.

In March and May 2023 we saw three small US banks fail. Although most UK residents were unaffected by this, the news has still impacted consumer confidence: some speculate we could be heading towards more business failures in future.

“There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic”

The latest UK consumer spending report from Barclays showed growth in the leisure market, with travel and travel agents enjoying strong numbers. Given the growth shown in the same report for airlines, it seems unlikely this success is all down to staycations.

Indeed, results issued by publicly-listed businesses such as Jet2, TUI, EasyJet and LoveHolidays show strong growth too. Meanwhile, we are hearing from clients that the lead time between booking and departure is growing.

With GBP fairing slightly better against the Euro and USD over the past month, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Long may it continue.


Matt Purser is a Director of the Firebird Partnership, and has worked in travel since 1989, beginning with ATOL at the Civil Aviation Authority. There he was instrumental in scoping out regulatory changes to protect consumers. In 2005, he set up the Travel Trade Consultancy (TTC) and helped grow it from a start-up to a million-pound-turnover business. Matt is an expert for the Finance & MI and Regulatory modules of Firebird’s Foundations for Growth programme.

Learn all about the programme, and get in touch with Firebird, at

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