08 Oct

More Brits heading off on holiday

Research shows people are taking more holidays but on a tighter budget

  • 88% of the population took a holiday, the highest figure since 2011
  • Foreign-holiday taking at its highest level for years
  • Cost-conscious Brits cut back on spend before and during a holiday
  • Families taking the most holidays

Whether making the most of a great choice of good value breaks or escaping the political doom and gloom, more Britons headed off on holiday in the 12 months to late July 2019, according to ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits Report.

Nearly 9 in 10 of us (88%) took a holiday this year1, the highest figure since 2011.

Holidays abroad, particularly longer holidays of seven nights or more, are proving especially popular. The number of foreign holidays of 7+ nights has increased to an average of 1.1 per person in 2019, up from 1.0 in 2018 and 0.7 in 2016. More than six in ten Brits (64%) took a foreign holiday in the 12 months to July 2019, up from 60% the previous year, and the highest figure since 2011.

Competitive market creates choice and value

Customers have been making the most of a great range of excellent value holidays and destinations. More than half the population (51%) took a package holiday abroad during the year, with value for money the number one reason for picking a package.

Mainland Spain, the Canaries, the Balearics, Greece and Turkey are the nation’s favourite overseas package destinations, while France, North America and Italy feature as favourites among holidaymakers taking a variety of types of holiday.

However, other destinations have proved popular this year, creating competition for Western Mediterranean favourites. Good value package destinations including Egypt, Turkey and Bulgaria have seen double digit growth, according to industry data2. Long haul travel is also booming, with a quarter (25%) of people saying they visited Asia alone, up from 15% in 2018.

Families are fuelling the growth: families with older children (5+ years) took an average of 5.6 holidays during the year – half in the UK and half overseas. Younger families (children under 5) took an average of 3.9 breaks.

Customers cutting back on holiday spending and changing when they book

Despite taking more holidays, UK holidaymakers are looking to make their money go further by cutting their spending before and during their holidays. Compared to two years ago (2017), people are spending on average £98 less before and whilst away on a short overseas break and £94 less on a longer overseas break. Spending is also down for shorter and longer holidays in the UK.

ABTA Members have said that some customers are leaving it later or taking longer to book this year, and the research supports this. Nearly one in five people (19%) said they left it later to book, rising to nearly a third of young families (32%). However, a fifth of people (22%) also said they booked earlier than normal, showing that people are adapting their booking behaviour - booking later or earlier in a bid to get the best deals: the number one reason they give for booking earlier or later is to secure a better deal or cheaper prices (38%).

Package holidays proving popular

More UK holidaymakers have taken a package holiday in the past 12 months, according to the research. More than half of people (51%) took at least one overseas package during the year, up from 49% in 2018. The popularity of the package is partly being driven by the value for money they provide – nearly one in five (18%) took an all-inclusive holiday, for example, up from 15% in the previous year. The other top reasons for picking a package are having everything taken care of and convenience. The variety of packages now available, with the ability to personalise their booking or even design a completely tailor-made experience, is ensuring this type of holiday is maintaining its appeal among UK holidaymakers. According to ONS (Office of National Statistics) figures, the package holiday has enjoyed five consecutive years of growth since 2014.3

Outlook for the year ahead

Looking at holiday plans for next year, travel is still a spending priority. More than a quarter of people (27%) plan to spend more on their holiday in the year ahead, up from 25% who said the same last year. The number of people who plan to spend less (14%) is consistent with the past two years.

Seven in ten people (70%) are planning a trip abroad in the next 12 months. Europe still tops the list of destinations people most wish to visit, with 57% saying they plan to take a trip there. The UK is the second most popular option at 56%. Just over half of people (51%) say they are concerned about the impact Brexit will have on the cost of their holiday, however this has fallen since last year when 54% said they were concerned.

Value for money looks set to be a strong driver of holiday choices in the year ahead: 21% of people say they plan to take an all-inclusive in the next 12 months. Experience-led breaks also look set to be popular – 16% of people are planning a multi-destination trip, 14% are planning a ‘lakes and mountains’ trip and 5% an adventure or activity holiday.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said:

“The British public’s appetite for taking holidays has continued unabated in the past 12 months. This has partly been due to the wide variety of excellent value for money options available this year, and also because holidays are a priority when it comes to discretionary spend.

“Rather than cutting back on the number of holidays, people are looking to save money in their holiday budget in other ways – spending less before and while they’re away, and changing when they book to find better deals.

With seven in ten people planning a trip abroad in the year ahead, it’s clear that holidays are set to remain a spending priority.”

For further information, contact:

020 3117 0596 or press@abta.co.uk

Emily Jones, Media and PR Manager, tel: 020 3117 0592

Sean Tipton, Media Relations Manager, tel: 020 3117 0513

Out of Hours: Contact the Duty Press Officer via pager: 07623 951 339

Web: www.abta.com

Twitter: @ABTAtravel


Notes to editors

1 In the year to July 2019

2 Data sourced from GfK’s Travel Insights service to August 2019. Travel Insights is a point of sale service measuring transactional booking data from tour operators and travel agents for outbound leisure travel from the UK. Data shows: Egypt (+21%), Turkey (+22%), Bulgaria (+20%) year on year.

3 ONS statistics show 2018 overseas package holiday visits of 18,172,000, up from 17,539,000 in 2017, 17,456,000 (2016), 16,676,000 (2015), 15,868 (2014).

ABTA’s full Holiday Habits Report is available to download from abta.com/holidayhabits2019.


Consumer research was conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (formerly Arkenford, specialists in leisure and tourism research) https://www.the-nursery.net/. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2,043 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2019. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2019.

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