11 Oct

The foreign holiday is back – new ABTA Holiday Habits report reveals how much

ABTA has published its Holiday Habits 2022 report – which looks at how people travelled over the last 12 monthsi and covers the first real opportunity people had to take an overseas break since March 2020, when COVID-19 brought international travel to a standstill. The report also looks at people’s holiday plans for the year ahead, taking into account – among other things - the rising cost of living.

The report reveals that the UK’s love affair with overseas travel is back – with 45% of people travelling abroad in the 12 months to August 2022, equivalent to 70% of people who took a foreign holiday in 2019ii. It is a significant proportion of people given that UK travel restrictions were lifted only in March 2022, and rules have eased at varying rates in destinations.

As well as overseas trips returning, the year has seen high demand for travel professionals and package holidays. 

More people booked with a travel professional this year than in 2019 (36% compared with 34%), with a notable rise in demand from young families and young people. More than half of those with young familiesiii (54%), and 25–34-year-olds (55%), booked in this way, both an increase on 2019 (36% and 38% respectively). Of all those choosing to book with a travel professional, the ease of booking was their main motivation (44%), followed by having someone to help and support if something goes wrong (35%).

Packages were the most popular way to travel on an overseas holiday, with almost two-thirds (63%) of holidaymakers taking this type of trip. Being the best value option for the price (34%), having everything taken care of (29%) and booking an all-inclusive holiday (28%) were the top reasons why people took a package holiday. 

The report also reveals that the pandemic will lead to longstanding changes in how holidaymakers organise their travel, with many taking steps to bring extra reassurance to the process. These include taking out a good travel insurance policy (71%), paying closer attention to terms and conditions (63%) or making sure they book with an ABTA Member (61%).

Looking ahead to next year – foreign travel is here to stay, with 61% of people planning to head abroad in the next 12 months. Despite the increasing pressures on household finances, holidays remain a spending priority, with people more likely to cut back on non-essential spending elsewhere, such as eating out (55%), leisure activities (48%) and clothes, shoes and accessories (40%), before they’ll cut back on their holidays (35%).

That said, many people do expect to make some changes to their travel plans to meet the rising cost of living. The top three ways people plan to reduce their holiday costs are by taking fewer holidays (36%), opting for cheaper travel optionsiv (28%) and eating out less while away (23%), while only 14% of people say they won’t go away at all – which drops to just 4% of those who travelled in the last year. 

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said:

“The lifting of the UK’s travel rules this year unleashed a surge in overseas holidays, with almost twice as many people travelling abroad in the six months from March to August 2022 (38%), than in the previous six months (21%). Given how much these restrictions had dampened demand, it’s quite remarkable to see foreign holiday taking already reaching 70% of 2019 levels, which was in itself a bumper year for travel, in such a short space of time.

“We now face an uncertain year ahead given the cost of living challenges, but ABTA’s research suggests that we should continue to see an increase in foreign holidays next year and, encouragingly, many of our Members have also been reporting a high level of demand for bookings. 

“As our Holiday Habits 2022 report shows, people have found comfort in the security of booking a package holiday and accessing the expertise of travel professionals. It remains to be seen whether this will continue as a firm trend in 2023 but, if it does, it may prove a rare positive legacy of the pandemic for ABTA Members.”

ABTA’s Holiday Habits 2022 report can be downloaded at abta.com/holidayhabits2022.

Notes to editors

i When referring to last 12 months, we are referring to the period of data capture: September 2021 – August 2022.
ii  64% of people took a foreign holiday in the 12 months to July 2019 (source: ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2019).
iii ‘Young families’ refers to those living in a household with at least one child under 5.
iv ‘Cheaper travel options’ refers to examples such as flying economy or with a budget airline.

About the research

All statistics cited in this release are from ABTA’s Holiday Habits research for 2022, conducted in the last two weeks of August 2022 by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers. The research relates to people’s holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2022 and also reveals people’s travel plans for the 12 months from September 2022.

About ABTA

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 3,900 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. We’ll help you understand your level of financial protection, and what to do next, in the unlikely event that an ABTA Member goes out of business. So whatever happens, when you book with an ABTA Member, reliable advice comes as standard.

This means that booking with our Members brings peace of mind. Together with our Members, we help you travel with confidence. www.abta.com.