Press team

    British holidaymakers have continued to holiday abroad during the past 12 months, but opted for more city breaks and fewer traditional beach holidays, according to new research* from ABTA.

    Despite an extraordinary 12 months, which saw many countries impacted by challenging and high profile events - including several appalling terrorist attacks, an attempted military coup in Turkey and the Zika virus in parts of the Americas, Asia and the Caribbean - over half the population (56%) took a holiday abroad in the last year, a 2% increase on 2015. This reflects other market figures which show an increase in overseas holiday bookings for summer 2016 of around 5% year on year**.

    City breaks and Western Med lead the way

    Over the past 12 months, people have either been choosing to explore destinations closer to home or places they perceive to be safer, resulting in destination winners and losers. ABTA’s research shows that city breaks remain the nation’s favourite holiday type, with over half the population (53%) having taken one in the past 12 months and almost as many planning to take one in the next 12 months.

    The number of people taking beach holidays in the last year has fallen back to 2014 levels after a strong 2015. This is supported by other findings in the survey which show that the volume of longer overseas breaks (of 7 nights or more) decreased slightly this year after a very strong year in 2015.With Tunisia effectively closed to British tourists, Egypt visitor numbers falling due to restrictions on flights to Sharm, and some resorts in the Western Med stretched to capacity over the summer, the figures suggest British holidaymakers are willing to consider different types of holiday to the traditional two week beach vacation. 

    More people plan to try somewhere new in 2017

    With the Western Med a popular choice for the last two years, there has been a notable increase in people planning to visit somewhere new next year. Almost half (45%) of people stated they are quite likely or very likely to visit a country they have never been to before, compared to over a third (36%) who said the same thing in 2015. There has been a similar increase in people who are quite likely or very likely to visit a resort or city they have never been to before (even if they have been to the country): over half (54%) stated this in 2016 compared to 46% who said this last year.

    Table 1.1 – Numbers taking a city break and beach holiday 2012-2016







    City break






    Beach holiday






    All-inclusives on the rise as holidaymakers seek certainty

    Whilst 18% of people took an all-inclusive holiday in the last 12 months, a quarter (25%) are planning to take one in the next year. An increased interest in all-inclusive breaks may be due to holidaymakers looking for certainty over holiday budgets, and to protect themselves from a drop in the value of the pound following the EU Referendum result. This type of holiday is particularly appealing to young families, with 35% of this group saying they expect to go on an all-inclusive next year, compared to the average of 25%.

    Table 1.2 – Top ten types of holiday taken in the past 12 months

    City break


    Beach holiday


    Countryside break


    An all-inclusive holiday


    Lakes and mountains


    An adventure or activity holiday


    A cruise


    A trip to see a music event


    A train holiday


    Renting a private home/home swap/home stay/couch surfing


    Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, commented: “Following an extraordinary couple of years, it is not surprising to find world events impacting people’s choice of holiday type and destination. The travel industry provides a wide range of holiday destinations and holiday types, and people looking to try something new may find it helpful to discuss their holiday plans with a travel professional who can advise them on options available.”

    About ABTA

    ABTA has been a trusted travel brand for over 65 years. Our purpose is to help our Members to grow their businesses successfully and sustainably, and to help their customers travel with confidence.

    The ABTA brand stands for support, protection and expertise. This means consumers have confidence in ABTA and a strong trust in ABTA Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that holidaymakers remain confident in the holiday products that they buy from our Members.

    We help our Members and their customers navigate through today's changing travel landscape by raising standards in the industry; offering schemes of financial protection; providing an independent complaints resolution service should something go wrong; giving guidance on issues from sustainability to health and safety and by presenting a united voice to government to ensure the industry and the public get a fair deal.

    ABTA currently has around 1,200 Members, with a combined annual UK turnover of £33.07 billion. For more details about what we do, what being an ABTA Member or Partner means, and how we help the British public travel with confidence visit www.abta.com. 

    * Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 1962 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2016. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2016.

    ** GfK’s Travel Leisure Monitor