Published on Friday, May 19, 2017

Record number of Brits went abroad last year

Last year saw a record number of Brits taking trips abroad, the highest for 10 years.

According to the latest ONS figures, there were 70.8 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2016, 8% more than in 2015.

It's the first time visits have surpassed the 2006 figure of 69.5 million and and a massive climb from 42 million in 1996.

The number of visits fell sharply in 2009 in the wake of the economic downturn but have increased every year since 2012.

Holidays were the most common reason for travel abroad in 2016, followed by visits to friends or relatives. Both of these markets are increasing.

Meanwhile the number of trips for business and miscellaneous reasons were fairly flat year-on-year.

Overall, UK residents spent £43.8 billion on overseas visits, 12% up on the previous year.

The average length of stay has remained constant since 2011 at around 10 nights.

Countries where visits tended to be shorter included Belgium (three nights) and the Netherlands (four nights) and holidays were the most frequent reason for visits to both these countries.

Visits were much longer to Bulgaria (14 nights, driven by holidays) and Romania (14 nights, mainly visiting friends and relatives).

Spain is still the most visited country by UK residents - 14.7 million visits in 2016, a jump of 13% from 2015 and a record total. Visits to Spain were mainly for holidays (88%).

Meanwhile, visits to Poland leapt by 19% to 2.4 million, of which 71% were to visit friends and family.

On the other hand, trips to France and Turkey decreased from 8.8 million to 8.5 million and from 1.5 million to 1.1 million, respectively.

Spain, France, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and the USA, in that order, remain the top five most popular countries for UK residents to visit, accounting for 49% of all visits abroad and approximately 46% of total spend abroad.

The ONS figures also show a record year for incoming visits to the UK. See story here.

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