07 Jan

ABTA reveals most popular destinations for 2022 as travel testing requirements ease

Spain is expected to lead bookings, with Canada and Turkey newly in the top 10

With foreign travel now much easier thanks to the removal of pre-departure tests today[i], ABTA – the Travel Association has revealed the top 10 destinations that people are planning to visit this year, with travellers craving a mix of far-flung, bucket list destinations and firm favourites closer to home.

Number one on people’s travel wish list is Spain, with 29.3% of respondents saying they plan to visit in 2022[ii]. Offering sun, sea and sand aplenty, Spain has long been the UK’s favourite holiday destination and usually attracts over 18 million of us each year.

Moving up to second place – and topping the list of long-haul destinations – is the USA, which reopened its borders to UK tourists in November 2021. Almost 1 in 5 (18.1%) people plan to travel there this year, with New York and Florida among the most popular destinations.

Two further long-haul destinations that are rising in popularity are Australia (5.1%) and Canada (4.5%), both up two places from last year to eighth and ninth respectively. Offering breath-taking landscapes, incredible wildlife and cosmopolitan cities to explore, their increased popularity points to two trends ABTA expects to see in 2022 – people catching up on travel by booking a holiday of a lifetime and taking the time to reconnect with family and friends abroad (see Travel in 2022 report).

The classic European holiday havens of France (17.8%), Italy (16.4%) and Greece (10.1%) round off the top five, all promising world-renowned culture and gastronomy as well as lots of options for a sunshine-filled beach getaway during the summer months.

While Portugal (8.7%) and Germany (8.2%) remain the sixth and seventh most popular locations, Turkey (4.0%) has moved up two places to the tenth most popular destination this year. This increased popularity could be due to the exceptional value for money it currently offers UK holidaymakers as the Turkish lira has fallen considerably against the pound.

The relaxation of the UK’s testing requirements today will make travel more accessible – from 7 January fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to take a pre-departure test when returning to the UK. The day two test will change from PCR to lateral flow on 9 January. To help people book and travel with confidence, ABTA is advising holidaymakers to book with an ABTA Member for expert advice and guidance.

With research showing people are 30% more likely to use a travel professional now than before the pandemic, primarily for their guidance with Coronavirus travel requirements (47%) followed by the security of a package holiday (46%)[iii], ABTA expects to see more customers turning to travel professionals to book their long-awaited trips this year.

Graeme Buck, Director of Communications at ABTA – The Travel Association said:

“January is typically when people start to plan their holidays for the year ahead, so we’d encourage anyone who is thinking of booking a holiday to speak with an ABTA Member.

“Whether they’re looking to visit one of these popular destinations or somewhere else entirely, our Members are experts at finding the best holiday for their customers – and at a competitive price.  

“They’ll also be there to look after their customers every step of the way, from doing all the research to keeping them up-to-date with any restrictions or changes they need to be aware of, so they can book and travel with confidence.”

ABTA has put together comprehensive advice for travelling during the pandemic at www.abta.com/readysteadytravel. Travellers should also regularly check the travel advice pages for the country they intend to visit at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to ensure they can meet the latest entry requirements.


Notes to editors
The top 10 overseas destinations people plan to travel to in 2022 (and their change in ranking compared to last year) are:

  1. Spain (29.3%) =
  2. USA (18.1%) +1
  3. France (17.8%) -1
  4. Italy (16.4%) =
  5. Greece (10.1%) =
  6. Portugal (8.7%) =
  7. Germany (8.2%) =
  8. Australia (5.1%) +2
  9. Canada (4.5%) +2
  10. Turkey (4.0%) +2

[i] From 04.00am on Friday 7 January, fully vaccinated passengers are no longer required to take a pre-departure test when travelling to the UK.
[ii] ABTA consumer trends survey from a nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers related to holiday booking habits and future travel plans. Fieldwork was conducted in the last two weeks of August 2021 by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/).
[iii] ABTA consumer sentiment research conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) in October 2021, with a nationally representative sample of 500 consumers.

About ABTA
ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 70 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence. The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members.

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA has around 4,000 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined pre-pandemic annual UK turnover of £40 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the UK public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.