29 Jul

Holiday greetings by post

ABTA research finds no amount of gadgets and technology can replace the personal touch of a postcard

  • 130 million postcards predicted to be sent this summer, with over 28 million in the UK alone
  • Most Brits (53%) said they prefer to receive a written postcard than a text, email or SNS message
  • Londoners are biggest postcard senders, sending an average of 3.83 per person a year. Belfast sends the least sending an average of 1.63 per person per year
  • Postcard keepsakes: 26% of Brits keep all the postcards they receive
  • Brits send cards from unusual UK holiday destinations like Reading as much as exotic places like Australia and the Caribbean
  • Women are generally more proactive at keeping in touch when they’re away

Research of 3000 UK adults released today from ABTA has found that while many of us think we couldn’t survive without technology while on holiday, more than a third (35%) polled switch off their mobiles and other communications devices when they’re away.

Although 71% use text messages to keep in touch with friends and family at home, nearly two thirds (59%) prefer to send postcards. 32% use email and 22% send their own version of a picture postcard via a photo message. 

The survey found that recipients of messages from abroad appreciate the personal thought that goes into a handwritten card much more than a quickly typed note.  Most people (53%) said they prefer to receive a hand-written postcard than a text message, SNS message or email.

People most enjoy knowing their loved ones were having a good time. 39% said they like to hear how friends/family are doing, 22% said receiving a postcard makes them feel very happy, and 13% said they like to receive things in the post.
55% of respondents said that sending postcards is an important part of British and family travel culture.

Donna Dawson, psychologist, said: “Picture postcards will always beat emails, texts and SNS messages, because they are something that you can hold in your hand and observe close up, utilising both the senses of touch and vision, and thus triggering the pleasure-centres of the brain more quickly. They also create a stronger emotional response than the newer methods of communication, and tie in with a long and sentimental history of traditional seaside holiday postcards."

“A postcard becomes a souvenir of a person or persons at a particular time and place, as well as a physical reminder that someone has gone to the time and trouble of selecting, writing and posting you something. And in these technologically fast-moving times, that is something to be treasured.”

This week it’s expected that another 1.8 million Brits will jet off overseas to sunnier climes.  Postcards of all sorts, from picturesque landscapes to famous sites and comical beach scenes will be in demand as people search out appropriate cards to send home.

Royal Mail figures predict that more than 100 million postcards are expected to be sent this summer from the top holiday destinations overseas, the most popular of which are:

Destinations estimated postcards to be sent from May - October
Spain 16.2 million
France 10.08 million
Italy 3.46 million
USA 3.24 million
Greece 3.06 million
Portugal 2.52 million
Ireland 2.02 million
Turkey 1.8 million
Netherlands 1.44 million
Cyprus 1.36 million

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA, said: “Postcards are integral to British travel culture no matter where we are in the world. They provide an intriguing and very personal glimpse into someone else’s experiences away from home and travellers can’t resist telling their friends and family at home what a great time they are having without them!”

“To ensure you have holiday experiences to make your loved ones jealous, book with an ABTA Member as they can provide the best deals and the highest levels of protection, service and quality.”

Brian Lund, Editor of Picture Postcard Monthly Magazine, said: “Postcards are a Great British tradition and it’s wonderful that people have such affection for them still, whether they’re travelling abroad or at home.

The range of destinations for travel has broadened over time, as has the variety of postcards depicting these locations. Postcards continue to be a great way to share our tales of travels with people elsewhere in the world.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail said: ''The postcard is thought to have been created in 1894 when Royal Mail first allowed them to be sent through the post. Not only can a postcard be kept and re-read, it carries a feel good factor for the recipient. Picking up a pen and writing to someone still means more to people as it takes thought  and effort and shows loved ones you care”.

For further information or to arrange interviews with Donna Dawson, psychologist, please contact Nicola Andreasen at Paratus Communications on 0207 404 6691 / email: nandreasen@paratuscommunications.com

  • Survey statistics taken from a OnePoll survey of 3000 adults commissioned July 16th-20th 2009.
  • Figures regarding numbers of people travelling abroad this summer and in previous years supplied by ABTA
  • Figures regarding numbers of postcards to be sent in the UK and abroad supplied by Royal Mail.
  • Figures regarding number of postcards sent from each overseas location based on survey result that 60% of people will send 3 postcards on their summer holiday and calculated using ABTA’s figures for the number of people travelling to each location.