Vacation travel behavior in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

Holiday or vacation travel is one of the most prominent segments of the tourism sector in the United Kingdom. Until 2020, UK holidaymakers were taking over 50 million trips abroad a year, more than for any other travel purpose. Many travelers also vacation domestically besides holidaying abroad, with almost half of UK residents surveyed in 2019 saying they took holidays both abroad and domestically in the last year.

What are the most popular holidays for UK tourists?

City breaks have been popular among holiday travelers from the UK for many years, after budget airlines opened the market for short breaks to European cities. Brits however are largely sun seekers, with demand for beach holidays still high. For longer vacations (of four nights or more), UK travelers often choose countries in Europe with warmer climates. Spain continues to rank as the most visited holiday destination abroad, followed by France and Italy in 2019.

Many residents also opt to holiday at home. UK adults take an average of two ‘staycations’ per year. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) on travel also made it more likely for holidaymakers to stay at home for their break in 2020, although it’s yet to be seen whether it will cause this average to increase.

Holiday booking behavior

Attitudes towards booking travel in the UK mainly focus on finding the best value deals, whether as a package or by booking travel components independently. The shift away from booking through traditional high street travel agents to online agencies has led digital travel bookings to become the norm. Although it is easier than ever to book directly with service providers via the internet, online travel agencies still prove to be worthwhile for consumers; value and trustworthiness are two of the biggest reasons for consumers to choose online travel agencies such as Expedia instead of going to directly to providers, similar to the reasons they would choose to use a traditional travel agent. Many traditional companies that began on the high street, such as TUI and First Choice, now also operate online and are still popular for package holiday customers. Budget airlines such as Easyjet and Jet2 however seem to have taken advantage of value conscious consumers, offering flight and accommodation package deals via their own holiday businesses - EasyJet Holidays and Jet2 Holidays.

What does the future hold for the travel market in the UK?

Following the disruption of COVID-19 to the travel industry, the holiday travel market in the UK is still expected to recover, even in the cruise category, which was among the hardest hit by the virus. Sustainable travel also continues to be an important trend across Europe, with many UK travelers paying more attention to the impact regular flights abroad has on the environment. Brexit also remains a concern, as the implications of the UK’s exit from the European Union will not be fully seen until the end of the withdrawal period in 2021.

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Vacation travel behavior in the United Kingdom

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