We’re holidaying abroad again, says ABTA. Where?

Brits are holidaying abroad again, following the pandemic which hit travel companies hard. And Spain is still the favourite destination, says travel association ABTA.

In the year to August, 45 per cent took a holiday overseas – not as high as pre-Covid, but many ABTA members are reporting that bookings are looking good. There is, of course though, concern that the cost of living crisis could hit the industry again, says the Holiday Habits report released at ABTA’s annual convention in Marrakech.

A third of people say they will cut back on the amount they spend on going away because of the rising cost of living. But, not before they try to slash spending on meals out, day trips and shoes and clothing.

The top 10 countries visited in the past year are: Spain, France, USA, Italy, Greece, Germany, Portugal, Cyprus, New Zealand and Austria. After Covid restrictions were lifted, families clearly travelled to be reunited, as New Zealand rocketed from 27th place in 2019 to ninth!

So, what do we like… sun, sea and sand, it appears. Beach holidays pipped city breaks although people took more breaks in the countryside than they did three years ago. The disruption to holidays during the pandemic has resulted in people wanting peace of mind. More are booking with a travel professional, buying a package holiday and all-important travel insurance.

The report also revealed that holidaymakers believe companies should try to reduce carbon emissions and are more conscious of the impact of air travel and cruise ships. More than a third of people say they have been on a cruise and younger people are keen to take to the waves. Almost two thirds of young families say they would like to go on a cruise in the future.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “The lifting of the UK’s travel rules this year unleashed a surge in overseas holidays, with almost twice as many people travelling abroad in the six months from March to August 2022 (38%), than in the previous six months (21%).

“Given how much these restrictions had dampened demand, it’s quite remarkable to see foreign holiday taking already reaching 70% of 2019 levels, which was in itself a bumper year for travel, in such a short space of time.

“We now face an uncertain year ahead given the cost of living challenges, but ABTA’s research suggests that we should continue to see an increase in foreign holidays next year and, encouragingly, many of our members have also been reporting a high level of demand for bookings.

“As our Holiday Habits report shows, people have found comfort in the security of booking a package holiday and accessing the expertise of travel professionals. It remains to be seen whether this will continue as a firm trend in 2023 but, if it does, it may prove a rare positive legacy of the pandemic for ABTA members.”

ABTA’s Holiday Habits 2022 report can be downloaded at abta.com/holidayhabits2022