Going on holiday is a priority for the majority of people in the UK, new data collected by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) shows, as 77% of people surveyed took a holiday in the UK or abroad over the last 12 months. ABTA’s Holiday Habits report shows that of those trips, 39% of people said they took a holiday which was rolled over from during the pandemic; 74% reported taking a trip which was a new booking.
According to the report, 45% of people took a trip abroad over the last 12 months, which could come as a surprise given that the world is experiencing a cost of living crisis, with high inflation, and rising energy bills. Considering travel was heavily restricted before March 2022 – authorities in the UK lifted travel restrictions that month – the numbers reflect the strong commitment people have to going abroad.
The removal of UK travel restrictions in March 2022 saw people return to their beloved overseas holiday.Mark Tanzer, CEO ABTA
The Holiday Habits report is based on research with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people which we have conducted each summer since 2011. Each data set relates to people’s holiday habits in the 12 months prior to that summer and what their travel plans are for the year ahead. The latest study was carried out from 16 to 30 August 2022 and has captured how people traveled in the 12 months prior to that in total as well as in two six-month segments: September 2021 to February 2022 and March 2022 to August 2022
The recovery of the overseas holiday market was led predominantly by young people and families, who were most likely to have traveled abroad in the last 12 months. This is similar to patterns seen before the pandemic, though the difference between younger and older age groups has become more pronounced. Older people have been a little more hesitant about traveling than younger age groups since 2020, due to higher concerns around catching Covid-19.
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, it seems people are as eager to enjoy a holiday abroad as they were last year, but consumer confidence has not yet returned to 2019 levels, when 7 in 10 people were planning to travel overseas. As far as UK breaks are concerned, with more options for overseas trips available, last year’s spike in enthusiasm for domestic holidays is leveling off. Outbound travel is forecast to grow by 15% over the next five years, outperforming most other parts of the UK economy.
The top 10 most visited countries over the past year includes the usual European favorites of Spain, France, Italy and Greece, as well as a new entry from New Zealand, which has rocketed up from 27th place in 2019, to 9th place in 2022.
Beach holidays just pipped city breaks as the nation’s favorite type of holiday, as holiday makers jumped at the first chance to enjoy some sun, sea and sand abroad. More people opted for a countryside break this year, compared with 2019, and all-inclusives were just shy of pre-pandemic levels. Half as many people took a multi-destination trip than before the pandemic, perhaps due to differing entry requirements between countries overseas.
2. Impact of higher cost of living
ABTA’s research shows that holidays remain a spending priority for the year ahead, though many people acknowledge they will need to make some changes to their plans in order to meet the rising cost of living. Underlining strong commitment from the public to their holidays, people say they are more likely to cut back on non-essential spending elsewhere, such as eating out and other leisure activities, before reducing their spend on holidays. And those who said that the cost of living will have an impact on their holiday plans are more likely to take fewer holidays, opt for cheaper travel options or cut down on what they do when on holiday, rather than not go away at all.
These concerns around the rising cost of living are also feeding into people’s holiday spending intentions, with this being the main reason for people planning to spend less on their holidays next year compared to this year. However, a significant proportion of people (31%) are planning to spend more on their holidays next year, many with a view to catching up on trips they’ve missed out on: 37% of this group are are planning to go on more holidays, while 30% say they haven’t traveled as much recently due to Coronavirus.
3. Sustainability concerns
Sustainability is a priority for the travel industry and is also a firm fixture in many people’s minds when thinking about their holidays. The break from travel, caused by Covid-19, has only made sustainability more important, with 54% of people saying the travel industry should operate in a greener way than it did before the pandemic.
Holiday makers are more likely to see it as the travel company’s responsibility to make their holidays sustainable, rather than themselves. That said, a similar proportion would like advice from their travel company about how they can make better choices, showing in both cases the value in travel businesses talking to their customers about sustainability.
Two in five people now saying they are likely to choose one company over another based on a better environmental / sustainable record, which is particularly prevalent among those aged 44 and under (average of 51%). Similarly, people are increasingly prepared to pay more for a holiday with a company which has a better environmental and social record than others – 38%, up from 19% in 2011.