Adapting to the Changing Face of British Holidaymakers

british holidaymakers

Roastin’…Bakin’…Boilin’…Swealterin’… Fans of Sexy Beast will remember Ray Winstone’s character Gal and his ‘Brit Abroad’ stereotype well. But are British holidaymakers still staying out too long in the sun of the Costa del Sol, or have habits changed? Let’s find out.

A recent report from the Office for National Statistics recently published a review on travel trends in the UK covering the mid-90s to 2016. For HND Travel and Tourism students, the report is particularly relevant, with changes moving in line with cultural and demographic shifts. Those looking to create their own ventures or get ahead professionally will have plenty food for thought.

Brits Travel More and Less

One of the biggest shifts highlighted in the report was the decrease of two-week holidays. Instead, one-week holidays have become much more common and are now the most popular length for British holidaymakers. By contrast, 1996 saw 7 and 14 night holidays sitting around the same mark of 5 million trips. This seems to indicate that Brits value quantity of destination over the length of stay. Indeed, the number of holidays taken since 1996 has increased by 68%. Less in length but certainly more in quantity.

This trend of decreased length of holidays seems intrinsically tied to the rise in budget airlines. As the Guardian reported: “throughout the 80s and 90s, EU leaders relaxed their rules to create a common aviation area across Europe, allowing low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryanair to enter the market.” Flight availability and price appears to have attracted a new generation of holidaymakers who are shaping the statistics: “Younger travellers make the most of their holiday allowances by taking lots of small trips throughout the year,” reported the Telegraph.

Certainly, the aggressive marketing of short-haul flights has had an impact on British travel habits. The idea of encouraging these short-yet-often trips seems apparent when one considers that a company like easyJet makes “£8 profit per seat”. Flying many planes and filling each seat is imperative for a budget airline’s success. Through availability, price and marketing, budget airlines have shaped British travel habits.  

Another factor influencing this rise in shorter trips appears to be workers’ attitudes to taking holiday. A report from found that 40% of British workers don’t take their full holiday allocation. Work pressures see a decrease in overall holiday taken, with cultural influencers reducing Brits’ likelihood of taking a two-week trip. With perceived job instability high in workers’ minds, taking a two-week trip could feel too risky.

Overnight Visits Down

Day trips outside the UK are also down by more than 75% since 1996, according to the report. The Guardian reported that this might be down to the termination of duty-free sales within the EU in 1999, resulting in fewer day trips from Dover to Calais. It may also indicate a rise in what’s been dubbed ‘bleisure travel’. The combination of work trips with a personal holiday is apparently on the rise and remains somewhat of an untapped market for those in the tourism industry. Around 43% of US business travel is converted in Bleisure travel, according to a report by Expedia Media Solutions.

Cruising to Victory

Fewer babies and better healthcare are causing noticeable shifts in Brits’ holiday habits. Thanks to an ageing population, cruise holidays have risen significantly since 1996. As the Guardian reported “cruises are now four times as popular as they were 20 years ago.

What do you see as the next major change for British holidaymakers?

Interested in a career in Travel and Tourism? Get in touch with a course adviser today and find out where an HND in Travel and Tourism can take you.


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