Spain remains the top destination for UK holidaymakers, a new study that examined people’s travel habits over the past four decades has revealed.
Over 13.6million Brits headed to the country in 2018, up from 6.7million 25 years ago, when it was also the most popular holiday hotspot.
The research found that visits to Mexico have also jumped. They are up 3,500 per cent since 1994. In that year only 18,778 British holidaymakers went to the country compared to 676,734 in 2018.
Spain remains the top destination for UK holidaymakers with over 13.6million Brits heading to the country in 2018. Pictured is the popular Costa del Sol
The research has been carried out by Abta, the UK travel trade association for tour operators and travel agents, which analysed the International Passenger Survey (IPS) air travel figures.
It also showed trips by Brits to Bulgaria have doubled in the past 25 years, with the increase set to continue with bookings for summer 2019 up 16 per cent on last year.
Croatia has also grown in popularity with only 4,757 UK holidaymakers in 1994 compared to 486,162 last year.
The study also found that there is still a strong market for traditional package holiday destinations, with almost 25million visits by Brits to Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta combined to last year. That’s a big increase from just over 13million holidaymakers in 1994.
Abta notes that today’s holidaymakers are branching out and going much further afield due to increased capacity in the airline industry and more fuel-efficient aircraft that have put long-haul trips within reach of more UK travellers.
When package holidays first became popular the Balearics, the Italian Riviera, Belgium (especially Blankenberge), Austria, Switzerland and Germany were the most booked destinations, according to Abta experts.
The analysis also found that while UK travellers remain firmly committed to package holidays – the type of trip and how they holiday has changed significantly.
Abta says that despite the emergence of other types of travel, half of the holidays people take each year are package breaks – a figure that has held steady since 2014.
A study by Abta found that while UK travellers remain firmly committed to package holidays, the type of trip and how they holiday has changed significantly. Pictured is a poster for package holidays to Spain in 1963
A collection of holiday brochures dating back to 1989. Abta points out that package holidays have changed a great deal over the years
However, the travel association points out that the first package holidays are a far cry from today’s getaways.
It says travel companies have responded to holidaymakers’ changing preferences – offering packages that include tailor-made trips, tours that take people off the beaten track, adventure holidays, river and ocean cruises, well-being breaks and all-inclusives.
Holidaymakers also have the chance to personalise their package – upgrading transfers, choosing their own room and even booking a specific sun lounger.
Abta says that interviews with its members reveal customers now often want to be the first to visit a destination or particular resort, whereas back in the 1970s many people chose a holiday location based on where their friends or family had been.
Two planes stand on the apron in a vintage shot at London Luton Airport. Today’s holidaymakers are branching out and going much further afield due to increased capacity in the airline industry and more fuel-efficient aircraft
The flight and cabin crew from a Thomson Airways flight pose for the camera. Abta says travel trends of the past such as packing tea bags, cereal, cleaning products and tinned food for their holiday abroad, as well as confusing prosciutto for raw bacon, have become a lot less common
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: ‘The UK continues to be a nation in love with the foreign holiday as tens of millions of people head abroad each year.’ Pictured is a vintage image of a Thomson Airways flight
Holidaymakers now have the chance to personalise their package – upgrading transfers, choosing their own room and even booking a specific sun lounger. Pictured are crew from Thomson Airways
Similarly, a package holiday was often sold with the promise of a ‘home-from-home’ – the UK but with better weather – but many UK holidaymakers are now keen to experience the best of the local culture.
Travel experts also told Abta that as people have become more seasoned travellers and the UK restaurant scene offers a wider range of cuisines – trends of the past such as packing tea bags, cereal, cleaning products and tinned food for their holiday abroad, as well as confusing prosciutto for raw bacon, have become a lot less common.
Travel experts today say a holidaymaker is more likely to have a suitcase full of tech than tins, as travellers head off on their holidays equipped with cameras, tablets and high-end headphones.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: ‘The UK continues to be a nation in love with the foreign holiday as tens of millions of people head abroad each year, with package holidays still dominating a large proportion of the travel market. But how we’re holidaying now is quite different compared to the package breaks of the 1970s.
‘Holidaymakers’ tastes are continually evolving, and the travel industry is adapting to the changing demands of customers. Whether you want a two-week cruise around the Caribbean, a cultural city break to Cadiz, a tailor-made trip to Mexico or seven days in the Costa del Sol, all of these options can be provided via a package holiday.
‘With the introduction of the new Package Travel Regulations last year, more travel arrangements this summer are likely to be package holidays – offering customers the best form of protection.
‘If you haven’t arranged your summer holiday this year, now is a good time to explore your options and book – whether that’s visiting a popular destination or somewhere new – holidaymakers will find that there are still good value breaks available this summer.’