‘Catch-up’ travellers predicted for 2022

Overseas visits forecast to be lower than in 2019 – but twice as many travellers say they would pay more for a sustainable holiday

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 24 November 2021 14:04 GMT
<p>Minority interest: only one in six British people travelled abroad in the past year, to destinations such as Albufeira in Portugal</p>

Minority interest: only one in six British people travelled abroad in the past year, to destinations such as Albufeira in Portugal

Half the British public say holidays are more important to them than before the coronavirus pandemic – and a similar proportion (46 per cent) plan to spend more on their trips.

But the survey, conducted by Abta, the travel association, also reveals that slightly fewer UK citizens – 61 per cent – intend to go abroad than the 64 per cent who went away in 2019. In the past year, only one in six (16 per cent) of British people have been abroad.

Booking trends from Abta members, including Jet2 Holidays and Tui, suggest a significant number of people are trading up. The association says holidaymakers are “upgrading from a three to a four-star hotel, extending their stay from 10 to 14 nights or opting for a more expensive destination altogether”.

Abta says 37 per cent of respondents intend to visit a new country – five per cent higher than when the same question was asked in 2020.

The proportion who are likely to book with a travel professional has risen by 30 per cent since 2019. Almost half (47 per cent) say they want expert guidance on Covid travel requirements as the main reason, with 46 per cent seeking the security of a package holiday.

Abta’s chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “We still need the government to continue working towards making travelling abroad simpler.

“But, after a turbulent couple of years, and assuming there are no unexpected developments to come with coronavirus, the signs are that an increasing number of people will be taking a long overdue overseas holiday next year.

“If so, we seem to be at the first stage of a meaningful recovery for the sector.”

Of those who did travel abroad in the past year, 61 per cent went to see family and friends. In a normal year, the proportion is only 25 per cent.

The percentage of travellers saying they are prepared to pay more for a holiday with a company that has a better environmental and social record has doubled from 19 per cent in 2011 to 38 per cent today.

But at the Abta Travel Trends event, Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2, said: ““Everyone talks about it and wants to be sustainable but not if it affects them.

“One large airline has a voluntary carbon offsetting scheme and only one per cent of customers take it up.”

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