Package holidays continue to “dominate” the UK overseas holiday market, according to the latest research from Abta.
A study into UK holidaymakers’ travel habits over the past few decades found that packages still account for half of all holidays despite the emergence of other types of travel.
This proportion of package holidays has also “held steady” since 2014, with Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer predicting a rise in 2019 following the introduction of the new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs).
“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,” added Tanzer.
“With the introduction of the new PTRs last year, more travel arrangements this summer are likely to be package holidays – offering customers the best form of protection.”
Tanzer also stressed that it was a “good time” for consumers to book a break for this summer with “good value breaks available”.
The report found that the number of visits to major package destinations – Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Malta – almost doubled from 13 million in 1994 to around 25 million in 2018.
Spain continues to lead the way as Britons’ most popular destination with 13.6 million UK visitors last year, compared with 6.7 million back in 1994.
Over this period, Mexico has seen a 3,500% increase in UK holidaymakers, rising from under 19,000 in 1995 to 677,000 last year. Trips to Bulgaria have doubled to 341,000 over 25 years – a growth trend that is set to continue in summer 2019 with bookings up by 16% year-on-year.
Abta also points out how UK holidaymakers’ tastes have changed over the past four decades – consumers are now looking for more of an “authentic” experience from their overseas travel, rather than the “home-from-home” they sought in the 1970s.
After interviewing members, Abta found today’s customers wanted to be “the first” to visit a destination or stay in a particular property. Back in the 1970s, holidaymakers were more likely to choose a destination or hotel based on “where their friends or family had been”.
UK consumers have also become more adventurous in their culinary tastes with the days of them packing essential items such as teabags, cereal and tinned food to take on holiday now “a lot less common”.
Abta said holidaymakers were now more likely to fill their cases with a range of technology including cameras, tablets and headphones.
Tanzer added: “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.”