Despite dealing with the disruption wrought by the collapse of Thomas Cook, the nation’s oldest tour operator, ABTA still had time last week to release its annual Holiday Habits report, which analyzes the activity of the UK travel marketplace over the past year, and had the following to say, in sum:
—Britons are still firmly committed to their holidays – with 88 percent of people saying they took a holiday in the last 12 months, up slightly from 86 percent last year.
—The average number of holidays people went on also increased, rising to 3.9 breaks a year – and for the first time since 2011 the average number of holidays taken abroad, 1.9 is now nearly as high as the average number of UK breaks (2.0).
—Almost two thirds (64 percent) of people took a foreign holiday in the 12 months to July 2019, an increase of 4 percent since last year and 11 percent more than five years ago. However, people have cut back on what they spend before they go on holiday and while they are away.
—Compared to 2017, people are spending a combined £98 less before and while away on a short overseas break and £94 ($115) less on a longer overseas break. This shows that, while people are still booking and taking holidays, they are looking to make their money go further by reducing costs before and during their trip.
Following are some of the key tables on British travel behavior from the ABTA Holiday Habits report.
Where are people going? Long haul travel is increasingly popular for Brits, notes the Holiday Habits report. Twenty-five percent. of people said they flew to Asia—a 10 percent increase from 2018 (15 percent) and a 4 percent rise in those who went to North America (26 percent compared to 22 percent). Six percent of people went to South America—with nearly twice as many 25-to-34-year-olds visiting this year (13 percent, up from 7 percent). The top destinations within South America were Mexico (72 percent), Argentina (29 percent) and Chile (20 percent). There was also a notable increase in the number of 18-to-24-year-olds traveling to Africa, up from 6 percent in 2018 to 11 percent in 2019.
What types of holidays have been booked? City and beach breaks continue to be the nation’s top two favorite types of holiday, with most people taking at least one of the two in the past 12 months (68 percent combined).
The number of people taking beach holidays remains consistent with last year—41 percent compared to 40 percent in 2018, whereas city breaks have seen a decline in popularity. While they are still UK holidaymaker’s favorite type of holiday, the number of people taking one in the past 12 months (46 percent), is a slight decrease from last year (48 percent) and 7 percent down since 2017 (53 percent).
Whilst classic holiday types, such as beach breaks are still very popular, people are diversifying their choices and increasingly taking experience led breaks, with the option of ‘getting away from it all’ also being a strong motivation for some holidaymakers.
—Online booking figures have remained steady over the past two years (83 percent vs 81 percent in 2018 and 83 percent in 2017).
—Research reveals 16 percent of people who book a holiday online now seek additional support—such as using a live chat service or speaking with a travel professional via social media—suggesting that people are increasingly seeking a variety of ways to get travel insights and expertise to support their online experience.
—While people are increasingly using social media as a method of interacting with travel professionals, the reliance on social media to provide holiday inspiration and information has fallen this year (3 percent for both social media posts of friends and family—13 percent to 10 percent and brands/ influencers – 9 percent to 6 percent).
—At the same time, there have been increases in the number of people preferring to consult travel company websites or travel professionals (36 percent vs. 32 percent and 17 percent vs. 14 percent in 2018 respectively). This suggests an increasing wariness of social media as a source of information perhaps reflecting higher awareness of ‘fake news’ and fake reviews
—The preferred method for booking a holiday abroad is through a holiday booking website (44percent) – up from 41 percent in 2018.
—The next most popular methods are directly through a service provider (42 percent), which has seen a drop since last year (47 percent),
—Third is through a travel company or travel agent (39 percent). Interestingly, there has been a 5 percent increase in people aged 35-44 booking via a travel company or travel agent, with two-fifths (40 percent) of this age range doing so in the past year.
—Almost twice as many people book their holiday abroad through a travel company or travel agent than for a UK holiday (39 percent vs 20 percent).
—As with last year, for domestic holidays people still prefer to book through a holiday booking website (47 percent) or directly with the service providers (46 percent), with the figures remaining the same for both.
A Summary and Outlook:
—Holidays continue to be a spending priority for people, in spite of ongoing political uncertainty. There has been a slight increase in positive sentiment about holiday spending.
—More than a quarter (27 percent) of people plan to spend more on their holiday in the year ahead, up from 25 percent who said the same last year.
—The number of people (14 percent) who plan to spend less is consistent with last year and 2017.
—The 18 to 24-year-old age group have the strongest feelings about holiday spend: 38 percent say they’ll spend more next year, while 17 percent intend to spend less.
—The main reasons people are planning to spend more are to secure the destination of their choice and to take the trip of a lifetime. Of the 14 percent of people who intend to spend less, the main reasons cited are they took a major trip last year (24 percent) and lack of confidence in the economy (23 percent).
—Research was conducted in late July 2019 and shows that people’s attitudes to the impact of Brexit on travelling abroad have seen few significant changes since last year. Opinion continues to be divided on the degree to which Brexit might impact holidays, although costs represent the biggest concern: 51 percent say they’re worried it will be more expensive to go on holiday after the UK leaves the EU
Destinations People Are Planning to Travel to in The Next 12 Months: Looking ahead, Europe still tops the list of places people plan to travel to in the next 12 months – just slightly ahead of the UK (57 percent vs. 56 percent) – with both destinations seeing a small drop since last year (61 percent vs. 59 percent).
The top countries people are planning to go to are:
Spain (28 percent)
USA (19 percent)
France (16 percent)
Italy (15 percent)
UK (14 percent)
Greece (13 percent)
The top continental destinations (UK excluded) people are planning to visit are:
Europe (57 percent)
North America (16 percent)
Asia (11 percent)
Australia/New Zealand (6 percent)
Africa (4 percent)
South America (4 percent)
Arctica/Antarctica (1 percent)