Drive American

Published on Thursday, June 13, 2019

Packages still dominate UK holiday market

Package holidays continue to dominate the overseas UK holiday market, according to ABTA research out today.

Half of the holidays people take each year are packages, a figure that has held steady since 2014.

But, the research, based on interviews with ABTA members, highlighted big differences between the package holidays of today compared to those in the 1970s.

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 already been.

A package holiday in the 1970s was often sold with the promise of a 'home-from-home', but today many UK holidaymakers want to experience a different culture.

In the early days of package holidays, the most popular destinations were the Balearics, Italian Riviera, Belgium (specifically Blankenberge), Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

While there is still a strong market for traditional package holiday destinations today - almost 25 million visits were made to Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta combined last year, a big increase from just over 13 million in 1994 - today's holidaymakers are branching out and going further afield.

UK holidaymaker visits to Mexico in 1994 stood at 18,778 whereas in 2018 visits were up by 3500% to 676,734 - more than the number of visits to Malta (559,677).

Trips to Bulgaria have doubled since 1994 and it looks set to continue to increase its share of visitors, with bookings for summer 2019 up 16% on last year.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer 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 trip 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."

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