31 Oct

Demand for holidays holding strong according to ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits report

  • Value-driven market boosts popularity of package holidays and travel professionals.
  • A growing trend for all-year-round travel could see May and June the most popular times for travel in the next 12 monthsi

ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits report, published today (31 October), shows strong demand for – and confidence in taking – overseas holidays, despite ongoing pressure from the cost-of-living squeeze.

In the 12 months to August 2023, 52% of the UK population went on a holiday abroad and took an average of 1.4 holidays abroad each, in line with typical pre-pandemic levels over the last 10 yearsii. This appetite for travel looks set to remain strong into 2024, as almost two-thirds (64%) of people say they plan to take a trip overseas in the next 12 months. 

The report shows that people are making price-driven decisions about their travel plans due to the rising cost of living – and they’re turning to package holidays and travel professionals to make the most of their budget. 

Of those who took a foreign trip in the last year, 61% went on a package holiday, with the price the main motivation for choosing this way to book. Those saying they booked a package because it was the best value option for the price rose to 42% compared with 34% last year while a third (33%) said they booked a package because they wanted an all-inclusive holiday, up from 28% who said the same last year.

Competitive pricing was also among the top reasons for booking with a travel professional. Of the 35% of people who booked a holiday abroad with a travel professional in the last 12 months, those citing value for money as their reason for doing so was up considerably, to 38% from 26% last year.

ABTA’s data also shows holidays will remain a spending priority for the year ahead compared with other sectors. People are planning to cut back on other non-essentials, such as eating out (57%), leisure activities (46%) and clothes, shoes and accessories (42%) before cutting back on their holidays (34%).

The majority of people (51%) are planning to spend the same amount of money on holidays this coming year as during the last 12 months, with a significant proportion instead planning to spend more (28%). 

But, although the findings show that many people plan to go on holiday keeping to the same sort of budget, most (72%) say the cost of living will affect their travel plans. To keep their holiday dreams alive, customers will adopt a range of cost-cutting tactics, like taking fewer holidays (22%), booking cheaper accommodation (21%) and eating out less on holiday (17%) to make sure they get that all-important break. 

The search for value for money might explain a growing trend for all-year-round travel. ABTA’s data suggests that May and June will be the most popular months for overseas breaks in the year ahead, with 21% of people planning to travel in those months, just ahead of October (19%) and just slightly ahead of the traditional peak months of July (17%) and August (17%)iii. Many ABTA members have extended the seasons in some destinations, such as Turkey and Greece, and added capacity in the shoulder season. 

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive at ABTA – The Travel Association, said:

“Over the past 12 months, household budgets have continued to be stretched by the rising cost of living while travel has been hit by a variety of challenges – including wildfires and an unprecedented air traffic control outage. 

“Despite this, people’s commitment to their holidays, and their confidence in travel, remain strong. This is due in no small part to the hard work and tenacity of our members, who have worked tirelessly to find the best value break for their customers' budgets and supported them when things haven’t quite gone to plan.

"For the first time, our Holiday Habits report includes a Travel Confidence Index, which will allow us to measure more accurately people’s confidence levels. This gives us a greater understanding of the degree to which external factors like economic challenges or large-scale disruption affect people’s overall confidence to travel.”

ABTA’s Holiday Habits 2023-24 report can be downloaded at abta.com/holidayhabits2023-24.

Notes to editors

ABTA is a trade association for UK travel agents, tour operators and the wider travel industry. We’re the largest travel trade body, with over 4,600 travel brands in membership who have a combined pre-pandemic annual UK turnover of £40 billion. We work closely with our members to help raise and maintain standards and build a more sustainable travel industry, and provide travellers with advice, guidance and support.

Our members sign up to a code of conduct and commit to agreed service standards and fair trading. When you need clear travel information, and accurate and impartial advice relating to your trip, we’re here for you. When you book with an ABTA member, reliable advice comes as standard. This means that booking with our members brings peace of mind.

ABTA also offers services to help you on your travels – ABTA Travel Insurance and ABTA Travel Money.

All this together means we help you travel with confidence.

All statistics cited in this release are from ABTA’s Holiday Habits research for 2023, conducted in the last two weeks of August 2023 by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people. The research looks at people’s holiday habits in the 12 months to August 2023 and what their travel plans are for the year ahead. Any references to ‘the last year’ or ‘the last 12 months’ refer to September 2022 to August 2023, with ‘in the year ahead’ and ‘the next 12 months’ referring to the 12 months from September 2023.

See below for two charts from page 4 of Holiday Habits 2023-24 showing the percentage of people taking holidays in the past 12 months (2013-2023) and the average number of holidays taken in the past 12 months (2013-2023)

See below for a chart from page 20 of Holiday Habits 2023-24 showing when people are planning to travel abroad in the next year (September 2023 – August 2024)