10 Oct

Brits take more holidays in past 12 months than at any point since 2011

A savvier breed of holidaymaker emerges

New research* from ABTA reveals that the average number of holidays taken per person per year has grown to 3.8, an increase of 0.4 on last year. This is the highest number of holidays taken per person in the last five years and almost equal to numbers seen in 2011 (3.9). The average number of overseas holidays is at its highest, 1.7 per year, having dropped to 1.4 in 2016. Breaks in the UK have remained steady after a very successful 2016.

ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2017* also reveals that, in the 12 months to August 2017, 87% of Brits took a holiday either at home or abroad. This is the largest proportion of the UK population taking a holiday since 2011, and maintains the significant growth from 2015 when only 77% did so.

Brits getting savvier about holiday spending

Following the soaring popularity of Western Mediterranean destinations in the past two years, and a weaker pound impacting spending power abroad, it appears that a savvier breed of holidaymaker has emerged.Whilst people are taking more holidays, they are thinking more carefully about how they spend their money and planning ahead to get the holiday they want.

Over a quarter (26%) of holidaymakers are booking earlier, up from one in five (22%) in 2016. Cheaper prices/better deals was given as the number one reason for doing this by 59% of early bookers, followed by more chance of availability (46%).

Spend whilst on shorter breaks overseas has decreased to £285 per person from £301 in 2016. However, on longer breaks overseas, it has increased slightly by 9% from £537 last year to £586 this year.

There has also been a significant increase in people planning to spend more on their holidays in the next year. Almost a third of people (31%) are planning to spend more, a notable increase on last year (24%) and the number one reason is to ensure they get their first choice of destination. 

Only 14% of people expect to spend less, compared to 16% last year, whilst just under a half (47%) expect to spend the same. Millennials are the group most likely to spend more, with 39% of those aged 25-34 and 34% of 18-24 year olds stating this.

The survey also asked people what impact they thought Brexit might have on their holiday-taking over the next 12 months. Despite confusion, with only one in five (19%) people feeling well-informed about the implications of leaving the EU on their holidays, British holidaymakers are committed to holidaying overseas, with almost two-thirds (63%) still planning to travel to Europe in the next 12 months.

City breaks stay on top but the beach makes a comeback

City breaks overtook beach holidays to become the nation’s favourite holiday type in 2014, a position they have held since then. Over half the population (53%) have taken one in the past 12 months, and similar numbers are planning to take one in the next 12 months.

The number of people taking a beach holiday fell last year to 38%, following changes to Foreign Office advice to Tunisia and Sharm el Sheikh as well as stretched capacity in the Western Mediterranean.  However, this number has risen to 41% in 2017, as travel companies have sought to add capacity in popular destinations. Nearly half (47%) of people are planning to take a beach holiday in the next 12 months, suggesting this trend may continue.  

North West and West Midlands booming

The increase in holiday-taking is being fuelled outside the capital, with every region in the country increasing its holiday-taking with the exception of Wales, the North East and London, which has seen a noticeable drop in the number of holidays taken. People in the North West have taken the most holidays in the last year, followed by those in the West Midlands, Scotland and the the East Midlands. People in the North East have taken the fewest holidays per person, followed by London and Northern Ireland.

In the North West, people took 3.2 holidays per person in 2016, a number which has jumped to 5.6 in 2017 while in the West Midlands the average was 4.5 holidays per person in 2017, up from 3.6 in 2016. A different picture can be seen in London where, in 2016, people took 4.4 holidays per person – well above the national average of 3.4. However, in 2017, this number has fallen to 3.0, much lower than the national average of 3.8.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “Despite a year when people’s spending power has been squeezed, it is clear that British people still value their holidays immensely, and it is encouraging to see holiday-taking at home and abroad increase.  Britons are responding to more challenging market conditions by planning ahead and managing their holiday budgets carefully and that bodes well for the year ahead. Our research also suggests that, although there is confusion around the impact of Brexit on travel, most people still intend to travel to Europe in the 12 months ahead, so it is clear the British love affair with holidaying in Europe continues.”

Table 1.1 – Britons taking a holiday 2013-17

Type of holiday 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
No hols 17% 20% 23% 14% 13%
UK only 31% 27% 23% 30% 30%
Abroad only 13% 12% 13% 15% 15%
Both UK and abroad 39% 41% 41% 41% 42%

Table 1.2 – Average number of holidays per person 2013-17

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
UK holidays 1.9 1.8 1.7 2.0 2.1
Abroad holidays 1.2 1.2 1.5 1.4 1.7
Total 3.1 3.0 3.2 3.4 3.8

Table 1.3 – Average number of holidays per person 2017 by region

  s.East London S.West N.East N.West Yorkshire West Midlands East Midlands East Scotland Wales N. Ireland
UK holidays 2.1 1.4 2.3 1.9 2.4 2.1 2.7 2.5 2.0 2.2 2.1 1.4
Abroad holidays 1.6 1.7 1.5 1.0 3.2 1.5 1.8 1.3 1.4 1.7 1.4 1.7
Total 3.7 3.1 3.8 2.9 5.6 3.6 4.5 3.8 3.4 3.9 3.5 3.1


To find out more, download the Holiday Habits Report 2017: www.abta.com/holidayhabits2017  

10 October 2017

*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2000 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2017. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2017.

**PwC’s UK Economic Outlook, July 2017