Consumers ‘more likely to use agents and take package holidays in 2021’

More consumers are likely to use travel agents and take package holidays next year.

The prediction came from Abta while revealing six key travel trends for 2021 as the industry seeks to emerge from the shadow of the global health crisis.

Travel experts and packages are expected to play an important role in helping people feel more confident to travel in the coming year.

New research by the travel association found that consumers are 20% more likely to use a travel professional now than before the pandemic, with two in five citing the security of a package holiday (41%) and the travel professional’s up-to-date advice (40%) as the main reasons.

The reassurances provided by a package is becoming increasingly important to customers, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they booked for the financial protection, up from 19%, and almost one in five (19%) saying they wanted to be looked after in case something goes wrong, up from 16% earlier in the year.

A recent rise in the number of people looking to book a holiday over the coming year is also revealed, with 62% of people saying they hope to buy an overseas break abroad in the next six months, compared to 52% who said the same in August.

Two distinct types of traveller are starting to emerge for 2021 – those keen to return to familiar favourites and those looking to indulge in bucket list trips.

Just a third (32%) of people said they would be likely to visit a country they had never been to before next year, compared to 45% who said so last year.

Spain, France, the US, Italy and Greece make up the top five destinations.

Booking trends from Abta members point to a similar trend with Turkey, the Balearics, Canary Islands, Greece, the Algarve and Florida among the most popular places for next sum­mer.

Bucket list trips such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking the Inca Trail and searching for the Northern Lights are also projected to be popular in 2021.

However, younger travellers are keen to get out and explore after months of lockdown this year, with 62% of 18-24-year-olds planning to spend as much or more on holidays next year, with one in five (22%) saying this was to take the trip of a lifetime.

An unwavering enthusiasm for cruise holidays, increased interest in trips embracing the great outdoors and growing demand for responsible tourism are among the other trends for next year, according to the data.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The severe restrictions that have been placed on international travel this year have clearly led to pent-up demand, with many people hoping to get away in the coming year.

“I’m delighted to see that an increasing number of holidaymakers plan to turn to travel professionals to help them book their much-deserved trips, which is testament to the immense efforts of our members to help their customers through this crisis, often in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

“There is no question that things are still really difficult for the travel industry. We are continuing to lobby hard on the need for the government to support the industry and the steps that need to be taken to open up travel.”

He added: “Members are reporting increases in enquiries and bookings for holidays next year, particularly following the positive developments around a vaccine, although these levels of bookings are far below where they would be normally.

“Through our report ‘Six trends for travel in 2021’ we want to inspire holidaymakers to think about their travel plans for the next year and encourage them to book with confidence with an Abta member.”

Abta’s six trends for travel in 2021:

  1. Embracing old favourites
  2. Ticking off the bucket list
  3. An increasing desire for country escapes
  4. Committed cruisers
  5. The peace of mind of a package and expertise
  6. Rebuilding with sustainability at the heart.

Top 10 overseas destinations people plan to visit in 2021:

  1. Spain (33%)
  2. France (19%)
  3. US (17%)
  4. Italy (16%)
  5. Greece (14%)
  6. Portugal (9%)
  7. Germany (8%)
  8. Croatia (5%)
  9. Netherlands (4%)
  10. Australia (4%)

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