08 Oct

UK holidaymakers reveal a taste for globetrotting

Europe remains the top choice, but more are travelling to the East Med and long-haul destinations

ABTA’s 2019 Holiday Habits report reveals the top destinations UK holidaymakers have been to over the past 12 months, and where they are planning to go in the year ahead – and while there is still a strong market for traditional short haul destinations, today’s travellers are branching out and going further afield. 

Europe remains the number one choice for British holidaymakers travelling abroad, with 84% visiting the continent in 2019 – despite seeing a small drop since last year (87%). Furthermore, four of the five top countries people visited in the past year are in Europe (Spain – 38%, France – 23%, Italy – 17% and Germany – 15%).  

Spain continues to be the most popular destination for UK holidaymakers, with more than a third taking a trip there this year and 15% ahead of the second most popular destination (France – 23%). However, the latest market data for package holidays shows bookings to Spain for summer 2019 slightly down on last year following several years of significant growth. 

Market data shows that bookings to Turkey, Tunisia, Bulgaria and Egypt are all up significantly on summer 2018, suggesting that some people who may have enjoyed several years of holidaying in the Western Mediterranean are now also branching out to other destinations. 

Germany features in the top five destinations holidaymakers have been to in the past 12 months, ahead of other popular destinations such as Greece (13%) and Portugal (11%), which came seventh and eighth. 

More than 2.8 million holidaying Brits visited Germany last year, up from 2.3 million in 20141, and much of its popularity can be attributed to the variety of exciting cities it has to offer, including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne, which are all easily accessible through low cost, short haul flights. The increase in people travelling to Germany can also be attributed to growth in the popularity of experience-led and river cruise holidays.

Back at home nearly three quarters (72%) of people have taken a UK based holiday in the last 12 months, up 4% on the previous year (68%), highlighting the continued demand for domestic trips. Of these holidaymakers, those aged 18-24 years old were the most likely (77%) of any age group to have taken a staycation in the past year, up 10% on 2018. ABTA Members have reported that popular countryside and coastal locations include: Norfolk, The Lake District, Devon, Cornwall and Bournemouth. 

The continued trend for long-haul travel is notable, supported by affordable flights and more fuel-efficient aircraft putting long-haul trips within reach of more UK travellers. There’s been a 10% increase in the number of people saying they visited Asia this year (25%), up from 15% in 2018.

Meanwhile, North America has seen a 4% rise in the last 12 months compared to 2018 (26%, up from 22%), with one in ten people visiting Caribbean destinations such as Barbados (14%), Cuba, Bahamas, Antigua and the Dominican Republic (10%). Almost one million UK tourists visited The Caribbean last year, an increase of 200,000 since 20141

When it comes to younger travellers (18-24 year olds) Asia has seen a considerable rise in interest in the past 12 months (29% vs 16% in 2018), with Singapore (28%) being their most visited destination in the region (vs 16% average). There was also a notable increase in this age group travelling to Africa, up from 6% in 2018 to 11% in 2019. Meanwhile, in North America, Cuba was one of the most popular destinations, with 22% of 18-24 year olds visiting (vs 10% average). 

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 70% of holidaymakers say they are planning to travel abroad, with Spain coming out on top once again (28%), followed by the USA (19%) and France (16%). At the same time, more than half (56%) say they intend to travel in the UK next year with 58% of people over the age of 65 planning a domestic trip. 

Victoria Bacon, Director of Brand and Business Development, said: 
“UK holidaymakers love to travel and it’s clear to see that while they enjoy their trips closer to home, they are also choosing to explore more destinations further afield. 

“Europe has once again proven very popular for holidays this year and looks set to remain the preferred choice for Brits seeking some time away in the year ahead. North America and Asia are also appealing to more UK holidaymakers, particularly among younger travellers.”

Top 5 UK holidaymaker destinations

Past 12 months

Next 12 months

Spain - 38%

Spain - 28%

France - 23%

USA - 19%

USA - 18%

France - 16%

Italy - 17%

Italy - 15%

Germany - 15%

Greece – 13%


For further information, contact:

020 3117 0596 or press@abta.co.uk
Tom Sommerfelt, Senior Media Relations Executive, tel: 020 3117 0531
Emily Jones, Media and PR Manager, tel: 020 3117 0592

Out of Hours:  Contact the Duty Press Officer via: 020 3693 0183
Web: www.abta.com
Twitter: @ABTAtravel

Notes to editors

1 Office for National Statistics data: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/leisureandtourism/datasets/ukresidentsvisitsabroad

The full 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.

ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 65 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence. 

The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members. 

We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

ABTA has more than 4,300 travel brands in Membership, providing a wide range of leisure and business travel services, with a combined annual UK turnover of £39 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member means and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com.