01 Oct

ABTA reveals Winter Holiday Trends 2013/14

One in five will take a break with winter sun and city breaks most popular

One in five (19%)* people are planning to take a winter holiday this year with one in five (21%) still undecided, according to new research from ABTA – The Travel Association. Amongst those planning a break, winter sun remains the most popular type of holiday but city breaks and ski holidays have both increased in popularity.

Table 1.1 – Winter holidays to be taken by those planning a break

  2013 2012
Winter Sun 40% 39%
City break 39% 31%
Skiing/ snowboarding 15% 10%
Don't know 2% 9%

The research also shows a steady hold in numbers going away from 2012 where 21% had a holiday planned with 19% undecided.

Winter Sun

Two in five (40%) of those planning a holiday will be heading for some winter sun, this type of break is most popular with older age groups with six in ten (59%) of 55-64 year olds taking a winter sun holiday.

The Canary Islands are this year’s favourite destination for British winter sun seekers who will also be heading to the southern Mediterranean, particularly Greece, Malta and Tunisia. Further afield, the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean and Mexico make for excellent long haul escapes and Dubai is popular with families. 

City Breaks

Winter city breaks have seen a jump in popularity with four in ten (39%) of those taking a winter holiday planning a city break this year compared to three in ten (31%) in 2012. This increase in winter city breaks is being driven by younger holidaymakers; almost half (48%) of under 35 year olds planning a winter holiday are taking a winter city break this year compared to a third (33%) in 2012.

It’s not surprising that these breaks are proving popular as winter can be a great time to wrap up and explore cities. Most will be less crowded with shorter queues for museums and top attractions, plus it will be easier to get a table at popular local haunts. Many cities also come into their own in the winter months with cosy bars and restaurants and outdoor markets: popular destinations include Amsterdam, Bruges, Prague, Berlin and New York.

Combining a city break with a Christmas market has also become increasingly popular recently as a way to get into the festive spirit and do a spot of shopping. Favourite European destinations include Frankfurt, Paris and Vienna, whilst the outdoor markets in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh are popular in the UK.

Winter sports

Following excellent snow conditions across Europe last year, winter sports holidays have seen a boost in popularity with 15% of those taking a winter holiday planning to take one, an increase from 10% in 2012. ABTA estimates that approximately a million Brits will be hitting the slopes this year. Skiing and snowboarding holidays are most popular amongst the 16-24 year olds, nearly half (44%) of those taking a winter break will be heading for the slopes.

ABTA Members are also reporting demand for resorts that offer additional activities with winter sports enthusiasts keen to do more off the slopes such as yoga, spa treatments and cookery classes.

Resorts in France, Italy and Austria remain the most popular destinations but budget travellers will also be heading for emerging ski destinations in Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Plus all eyes will be on Russia as Sochi gears up for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Top 5 ski resorts for Brits
1. Espace Killy (France)
2. Trois Vallées (France)
3. Sauze d’Oulx (Italy)
4. Kitzbuhel (Austria)
5. St Anton (Austria)
(Source: Ski Club of Great Britain)

For travellers heading to the slopes, ABTA has plenty of winter sports tips.

ABTA, Head of Communications, Victoria Bacon said: “Winter can be a great time for a holiday as there’s no other season where such a range of holidays are so easily available to British holidaymakers. It’s no wonder that taking a break at this time of year is consistently popular whether people are seeking sun, snow or a city break.”


*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2013. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2013.