Press team

    ABTA’s Travel Trends Report reveals major trends and 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ for 2018

    The demand for holidays is set to remain strong in 2018 according to a new report from ABTA, The Travel Association. Factors such as squeezed budgets, responsible travel and the desire to try new destinations are expected to impact travel trends over the next 12 months.  

    ABTA Travel Trends 2018, which is published today and based on market information and consumer insights, features the trends set to influence holidaymakers’ habits in the year ahead and reveals the 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ for 2018.

    The report highlights that despite wider economic issues, holidays are still a spending priority for UK consumers. New industry figures1 reveal that bookings for next summer are tracking 5% above last year, reflecting a growing trend for early booking as people look to take advantage of discounts and ensure they get their choice of destination or resort at the right price.

    Research also shows that three in ten people (31%) plan to spend an increased amount on travel next year, up 6% from last year2. Other industry reports confirm that people are prioritising travel, while cutting back on eating out and entertainment3.

    The stretched household budget is expected to see the package holiday secure its place as the most popular option for foreign breaks, as people seek to protect their holiday budget from a volatile pound. All-inclusive packages, ranging from active river cruises to beach resorts in the Eastern Mediterranean, are expected to do particularly well.

    The report also highlights that there will be an increase in low-cost long-haul flights on offer in 2018, allowing people to go further afield in fuel efficient aircraft without the extra cost and make the most of more competitive currencies.

    Money matters aside, responsible tourism - making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit - is set to be firmly on people’s radar when making choices around travel and destinations. Seven in ten people believe that travel companies should ensure their holidays help the local people and economy. Furthermore, holidaymakers are seeking new experiences, with almost a third (32%) expecting to visit a new resort or city in 20184.

    Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive commented:

    “Although household budgets are under pressure, the underlying demand for travel remains strong as savvy British holidaymakers are planning ahead and seeking the best value holidays and destinations.

    “While value for money will certainly influence many people’s holiday choices, others will also reflect on the impact their holiday has on local people and the community.

    “Popular TV programmes like Blue Planet II have put sustainability issues firmly in the spotlight, increasing awareness of the impact that large numbers of visitors can have on some of the world’s most popular destinations. We expect these factors to inform people’s choices about where and how they holiday next year, with a greater demand for holidays to a wide range of alternative destinations.”

    Key trends

    1. Responsible Tourism takes centre stage

    2018 looks set to be the year that responsible tourism takes centre stage. The majority of holidaymakers now say that they expect their travel company to act responsibly and the UK’s most watched show of 2017, Blue Planet II, has undoubtedly raised awareness of the human impact on the environment. Many tour operators, hoteliers and destinations have made positive progress in this area and we expect many more initiatives to follow in 2018.

    1. A taste for alternative destinations

    Concerns over the number of tourists in popular destinations have been around for a long time, and 2017 saw local residents in some cities protesting about the negative impacts of too many tourists. In 2018, more people are expected to go off the beaten track and seek out new and unusual travel experiences. Over a quarter (27%) of holidaymakers are planning to visit a country they’ve never been to before and almost a third (32%) are expecting to visit a new resort or city.

    1. Packages provides certainty

    Package holidays remain the single most popular booking option for foreign holidays, with over half (51%) of people taking one in the past 12 months. One of the main reasons for choosing a package is because it provides ‘the best value option for price’, and 2018 should see this trend continue as holidaymakers look to protect themselves against likely currency fluctuations.

    1. Low-cost long-haul opens up

    With a number of budget carriers such as Norwegian Airlines, WOW Air and Eurowings ramping up their low-cost long-haul offering to destinations further afield for a low price, increasing numbers of holidaymakers are taking advantage of this new flight option. With wider availability of new aircraft such as Boeing’s Dreamliner making longer journeys more attractive, comfortable and fuel-efficient, low-cost long-haul is expected to go mainstream in 2018.

    1. Luxury meets escapism

    Holidaymakers seeking a ‘once in a lifetime trip’ in 2018 could find themselves choosing between cutting edge space technology and the glamour of golden age rail travel. Holidaymakers with the budget can book a seat on one of the world’s first commercial flights to space on the Virgin Galactic, take an ‘air cruise’ on the Airlander 10, speed through the skies on the ‘Boom Supersonic’ or be transported to the 1920s by booking a ‘Grand Suite’ on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

    12 Destinations to watch

    Based on the best insider knowledge and market trends, ABTA has identified its 12 ‘Destinations to watch’ for 2018. These places have been chosen for a variety of reasons: they offer a unique travel experience, something special is going on in 2018, there is easier accessibility for British tourists or it’s a well-known destination with hidden gems. These are (in alphabetical order):

    • Argentina
    • Arizona
    • British Columbia
    • Germany
    • Malta
    • Montenegro
    • Nepal
    • New Zealand
    • Rwanda
    • St Lucia
    • Sweden
    • Turkey

    When booking your holiday in 2018, look out for the ABTA logo. By booking with an ABTA Member you can travel with confidence and access a range of support, protection and expertise should you need it.


    1. GfK’s Travel Leisure Monitor, October 2017
    2. ABTA Consumer Trends Survey, August 2017. Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2000 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2017. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2017.
    3. Deloitte Consumer Tracker, Q3 2017, accessible at: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/consumer-tracker.html
    4.  ABTA Consumer Trends Survey, August 2017