UK consumers’ travel intentions unchanged since autumn

Uncertainty about the restrictions on outbound travel had little impact on UK consumers’ intention to take overseas holidays this year ahead of last week’s government decision to drop Portugal from the green list.

Exclusive research for Travel Weekly undertaken in early May found demand for overseas holidays at the same level as last autumn with almost one third (31%) of adult respondents ‘likely’ to take a holiday or short break abroad in the next 12 months and one in six (16%) ‘very likely’.

The figures were identical to those in a survey completed in early November, but substantially down on the proportion pre-pandemic who expected to take overseas holidays. When respondents were asked the same question in October 2019, more than half (53%) said they were likely to have a holiday abroad and 33% ‘very likely’ – double the rate last month.

There was a decline in the proportion undecided between late last year (21%) and this May (16%) and a rise to 53% in the proportion unlikely to travel overseas in the next 12 months – 23 percentage points up on the figure in October 2019 – suggesting more than half the UK population are ruling out an overseas holiday not just this summer but for winter 2021-22 and much of spring 2022.

The survey found a sharp variation by age, with younger age adults showing greater intention to travel.

Almost half (46%) of those aged 25-34 and 41% of 16-24-year-olds said they were likely to take a holiday abroad compared with one third (34%) of those aged 35-44 , one quarter (24%) of respondents aged 45-64 and one in five (21%) of those 65 and over.

In line with these results, parents with children showed a much greater intention (42%) than those without (26%) to take a holiday abroad.

The intention rates by age broadly matched those of six months earlier, but with a four point rise among 16-24-year-olds and a three point fall among those aged 35-44.

Not surprisingly, the research found a rise in the proportion intending to take UK domestic holidays from 45% late last year to 52% this May – with a sharp increase among younger adults. There was an increase of 11 percentage points to 50% among 16-24-year-olds and a 13 point rise to 66% among those aged 25-34.

Strikingly, two thirds (65%) of parents with children said they were likely to take a domestic holiday last month, nine points up on six months earlier.

But the figures remain well down on pre-pandemic rates of intention to take domestic holidays. In October 2019, 67% of UK adults surveyed on behalf of Travel Weekly said they were likely to take a holiday or short break in the UK – up 15 percentage points on last month.

The research by Service Science and Kantar was conducted online among a sample of 1,278 respondents on May 4-6.

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