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Vacation travel behavior in the United Kingdom - statistics & facts

Holiday or vacation travel constitutes one of the most prominent segments of the tourism industry in the United Kingdom. Before the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the revenue of the travel and tourism market in the UK - including spending on hotels, package holidays, vacation rentals, and cruises - amounted to approximately 36.4 billion U.S. dollars, but this figure dropped by roughly 67 percent in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 containment measures. According to Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook, after reaching around 18 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, it is forecast that revenue in this market would then rise steadily over the following years, peaking at over 46 billion U.S. dollars in 2026. Alongside the substantial reduction in revenue, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vacation travel behavior is also reflected within the number of overseas holidays taken from the UK which fell dramatically from 58.7 million in 2019 to only 14.2 million in 2020. Similarly, the health crisis caused the total domestic tourist expenditure in Great Britain to decline by nearly 58 billion British pounds over the same period.

What are the most popular travel destinations for UK vacationers?

The UK is ideally situated to take advantage of a range of internationally renowned overseas and domestic holiday destinations. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain was reported to be the leading holiday destination visited by UK residents, with over 15.8 million visits made by UK travelers to the European country for holiday purposes that year. Whilst the travel bans adopted during the health crisis hit international tourism hard, in an August 2021 survey investigating the intended travel destination of UK vacationers in 2022 roughly 29 percent of respondents indicated that Spain would once again be their preferred destination of choice. On the other hand, according to a July 2021 study focusing on the preferred domestic travel destinations of UK vacationers, the South West was the favorite region for domestic holidays, chosen by 37 percent of respondents.

Holiday booking behavior

When looking at the preferred methods to book overseas holidays in the UK, a survey undertaken in October 2021 suggested that online travel agencies (OTAs) were the most popular choice, with 37 percent of respondents claiming to use this channel. However, although OTAs were the favorite booking methods among people aged 25 to 54 years, the greatest share of respondents over 65 instead preferred to book their holidays abroad through a high street agency or tour operator. Meanwhile, when asked about the providers used to book a package holiday in the United Kingdom in 2021, 28 percent of UK respondents to Statista’s Global Consumer Survey mentioned to rely on TUI, while a quarter indicated Jet2 Holidays.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 39 most important statistics relating to "Vacation travel behavior in the United Kingdom (UK)".

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