Released just four days before the end of the year, the UK “Travel Trends 2016” report by ABTA (formerly the Association of British Travel Agents) is, for U.S. travel suppliers and receptive tour operators, a mostly encouraging portrait of the tour and travel industry landscape for the coming year. Even the downside to the report on travel by UK residents for the coming year might benefit the USA: that is, there is some concern over safety and security in the wake of terrorist attacks and activity in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, which just might make some British travelers seek out the United States, which is still perceived as a safe destination.
Poring through the 26-page “Trends,” we found very little that was discouraging, in fact, with the possible exception that slightly fewer Brits plan to travel at all in 2016, but this seems to have more to do with domestic travel in the UK than it does for travel abroad. Following are the key points that we culled from the report.
—During the summer travel period (July 2015 to September 2015), UK residents’ visits abroad rose by 9 percent compared with the corresponding period a year earlier and they spent percent more during this period.
—The most popular overseas destinations in 2015 for British holidaymakers were: Spain, France, the USA, Italy, Portugal, Greece, The Netherlands, Turkey, Ireland and Belgium.
—ABTA research shows a particular increase in the number of overseas holidays of 7+ nights … from 1.2 in 2014 to 1.5 in 2015
—The average number of holidays taken per person increased slightly from 3.0 holidays in 2014 to 3.2 holidays this year.
—However, the number of people cutting back on holidays, or not taking a holiday at all also increased: the total number of people taking a holiday fell slightly from 80 percent in 2014 to 77 percent in 2015.
—The outlook for 2016 is cautiously positive; economic recovery seems set to continue and almost a quarter (23 percent) of the population are expecting to spend more on their holidays in 2016, up slightly from 20 percent who said the same this time last year, according to ABTA research.
—Long-haul holidays are no longer the preserve of the intrepid traveler. According to TUI UK, its Thomson and First Choice holidays have seen a 350 percent increase in long haul customers over the last ten years with an 800 percent increase in families taking long-haul holidays.
—Early indications from industry figures show the number of overseas holidays booked to date are up 9 percent year-on-year.
—A third (33 percent) of people aged 16-24 and 28 percent of people aged 25- 34 are planning to spend more on holidays in 2016.
—Almost one in five people (18 percent) say they will travel to a country they have never been to before in 2016, compared to 9 percent who said this last year.
—Nearly a quarter (23 percent) says they will try a new resort or city (even if they have visited the country before) compared to 10 percent who said this at the end of 2014.
—All-inclusives also look to cement a strong position, with one in five people (20 percent) saying they may take an all-inclusive holiday in 2016
—ABTA Members have reported an increase in people seeking bespoke or tailor made holidays and 6 percent of people are planning to take a tailor made tour or holiday in 2016. This type of holiday is most popular with people aged 25-34 and over 65.
—The younger generation that is driving a trend towards more active holidays. Sixteen percent of 16-24 year olds and 13 percent of 25-34 year olds plan to take an activity or sporting holiday in 2016.
—Data from the research firm GfK reveals a 5 five percent increase in family bookings