18 Mar

New ABTA research shows confidence is on the up as UK travel rules lift

57% of people now have a holiday abroad booked during the next 12 months with holidays to Egypt increasing in popularity the most.

As the UK’s COVID-19 travel requirements come to an end today, new research from ABTA – The Travel Association reveals how people are planning to capitalise on their new-found freedoms.

The findings show 57% of people have a holiday abroad booked for the next 12 months[i],  up from 44% in October 2021. These figures are close to levels seen before the pandemic, and it’s clear that confidence to travel is on the rise as restrictions ease.

Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey remain firm favourites for UK holidaymakers heading overseas but ABTA’s analysis of people’s travel intentions this year – compared to pre-pandemic, reveals other destinations are climbing up the popularity list.

When comparing people’s travel intentions from 2019 to this year, the number of people planning to travel to Egypt is up by 87%, followed by Malta (+51%), the United Arab Emirates (+31%), Portugal (+30%) and Mexico (+26%)[ii].

All these destinations promise sunshine, sandy beaches and a multitude of things to see and do, while also welcoming UK holidaymakers with either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a negative Covid-19 test – or no vaccination or testing requirements at all as is the case in Mexico.

The removal of COVID-19 travel measures in the UK today follows the steady relaxation of testing requirements since the start of the year, making the process of heading off abroad much easier and cheaper. Now, passengers, whether vaccinated or not, will no longer need to take any tests on return to the UK or complete a Passenger Locator Form, so holidaymakers can enjoy every last moment of their long-awaited break.

Although there has also been a relaxation of travel rules in many destinations, most still have some sort of COVID-19 entry requirements, so it is important that people check this before they travel. ABTA Members are on top of the latest COVID-19 rules and can advise customers of what they need to do.

Help with the navigating the remaining COVID-19 rules is the reason why many people are turning to travel agents and tour operators when planning and booking their holidays. ABTA data show people are now 39% more likely to book with a travel professional than before the pandemic, primarily for their guidance with COVID-19 travel requirements (47%), and broader travel expertise (40%)[iii].

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive at ABTA – The Travel Association said:
“It is a landmark day for holidaymakers and the travel industry. From now on people can enjoy their holiday up to the last minute without having to think about any paperwork or tests on their return to the UK.

“While we’re not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, our research clearly shows that consumer confidence is returning, and things are looking up for the industry.

“We’re encouraging anyone who is thinking of booking a trip this year to speak to an ABTA Member, who will not only advise on the best destination and arrangements to suit the customer’s need but also keep the customer up to date on any changes they need to be aware of, so they can book and travel with confidence.”

As travel continues to open up, ABTA advises holidaymakers to regularly check the latest requirements for their destination at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

ABTA has comprehensive advice for travelling during the pandemic at www.abta.com/readysteadytravel.

ABTA has around 4,000 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined pre-pandemic annual UK turnover of £40 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the UK public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.


Notes to editors
[i] ABTA consumer sentiment research conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) at the end of February 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 500 consumers.

[ii] This dataset compares responses from two ABTA consumer trends surveys, conducted in July 2019 and August 2021. Fieldwork was conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers.

[iii] ABTA consumer sentiment research conducted by The Nursery Research and Planning (www.the-nursery.net/) at the end of February 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 500 consumers.