ABTA has published its Holiday Habits 2022 report – which looks at how people travelled over the last 12 monthsi and covers the first real opportunity people had to take an overseas break since March 2020, when COVID-19 brought international travel to a standstill. The report also looks at people’s holiday plans for the year ahead, taking into account – among other things – the rising cost of living.

The report reveals that the UK’s love affair with overseas travel is back – with 45% of people travelling abroad in the 12 months to August 2022, equivalent to 70% of people who took a foreign holiday in 2019ii. It is a significant proportion of people given that UK travel restrictions were lifted only in March 2022, and rules have eased at varying rates in destinations.

As well as overseas trips returning, the year has seen high demand for travel professionals and package holidays.

More people booked with a travel professional this year than in 2019 (36% compared with 34%), with a notable rise in demand from young families and young people. More than half of those with young familiesiii (54%), and 25–34-year-olds (55%), booked in this way, both an increase on 2019 (36% and 38% respectively). Of all those choosing to book with a travel professional, the ease of booking was their main motivation (44%), followed by having someone to help and support if something goes wrong (35%).

Packages were the most popular way to travel on an overseas holiday, with almost two-thirds (63%) of holidaymakers taking this type of trip. Being the best value option for the price (34%), having everything taken care of (29%) and booking an all-inclusive holiday (28%) were the top reasons why people took a package holiday.

The report also reveals that the pandemic will lead to longstanding changes in how holidaymakers organise their travel, with many taking steps to bring extra reassurance to the process. These include taking out a good travel insurance policy (71%), paying closer attention to terms and conditions (63%) or making sure they book with an ABTA Member (61%).

Looking ahead to next year – foreign travel is here to stay, with 61% of people planning to head abroad in the next 12 months. Despite the increasing pressures on household finances, holidays remain a spending priority, with people more likely to cut back on non-essential spending elsewhere, such as eating out (55%), leisure activities (48%) and clothes, shoes and accessories (40%), before they’ll cut back on their holidays (35%).

That said, many people do expect to make some changes to their travel plans to meet the rising cost of living. The top three ways people plan to reduce their holiday costs are by taking fewer holidays (36%), opting for cheaper travel optionsiv (28%) and eating out less while away (23%), while only 14% of people say they won’t go away at all – which drops to just 4% of those who travelled in the last year.

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 2022 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.”


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