The proportion of Brits taking a holiday away from home rose to 86% in the 12 months to August, nine percentage points up on last year, according to research for Abta.
The association’s Holiday Habits Report 2016, released at the Travel Convention in Abu Dhabi, suggested holiday numbers this year were at their highest since 2011 when Abta launched its annual survey.
More than half (56%) of respondents in the online survey took a holiday abroad in the past 12 months, up two percentage points on 2015 and four points up on 2013.
The average number of overseas holidays per person remained broadly stable at 1.4, but Abta reported “a surge” in the numbers taking a domestic holiday and identified this as “the main driver of growth”.
The proportion taking a UK holiday rose to 71%, on a par with the Olympics year of 2012 and up from 64% in 2015, with the average number of UK holidays per person rising from 1.7 to two.
The study found 41% of respondents took at least one holiday overseas and one in the UK, the same as last year and the year before, 15% took solely an overseas holiday – up two percentage points on 2015 – and 30% only a UK holiday, up seven points.
City breaks were by far the most-popular choice in the 12 months, taken by 53% of holidaymakers against 38% choosing a beach holiday – down from 50% last year.
Abta attributed the beach holiday decline to Tunisia’s closure to UK tourists, restrictions on flights to Sharm el-Sheikh and the fact that “some resorts in the Western Med [were] stretched to capacity over the summer”.
The research found almost half (45%) of respondents likely to visit a country new to them in the coming 12 months, and 54% likely to visit a new resort.
It also found 25% of those planning a holiday intend to book all-inclusive accommodation, up from 18% in the last 12 months, and almost one in four (24%) planning to spend more on holidays in the next year – significantly outweighing the 16% who intend to spend less.
Abta director of brand and business development Victoria Bacon said: “The big increase in people likely to visit a new resort or destination could be linked to capacity in the Western Med. Late bookers found it difficult to get the holiday they wanted at the price they wanted this year.”
Chief executive Mark Tanzer added: “It’s heartening to see holidays are still a priority for most people, despite the high profile events over the past 12 months.
“Our research suggests a positive outlook towards holiday taking next year, although I would add a note of caution given the uncertainties around the Brexit negotiations.”
Abta’s Holiday Habits Report is based on an online survey of 1,962 UK consumers by research firm Arkenford in August.