Gap Widens Between Holiday “Haves” And “Have-Nots”

Research from ABTA reveals that the volume of holidays booked by Brits has increased, but this is being driven by just three quarters of the population.

ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2015 shows that the average number of holidays taken per person increased slightly from 3.0 holidays last year to 3.2 holidays this year. However, the total number of people taking a holiday fell slightly from 80 per cent last year to 77 per cent in 2015.

This decline in the number of individuals who said they took a holiday is a continuation of a wider trend seen over the last five years. In 2011 90 per cent of the U.K. population said they took a holiday, 13 per cent more than this year.

Continued pressure on household finances appears to be the key reason behind the decrease in holidaymakers with the biggest cuts in holidays coming from those with the tightest budgets.

In 2011, 95 per cent of those classified as social grade A1, and 81 per cent of those classified as social grade E, said they took a holiday. In 2015, 95 per cent of those in social grade A still took a holiday but just 49 per cent of those in social grade E took a holiday.

Affluent holidaymakers also appear to be taking more holidays per person, suggesting that they are one of the driving forces behind market growth. Those classified as social grade A took an average of 8.0 holidays per person last year, up from 7.4 holidays per person in 2011.

Those people classified as social grade E took an average of 1.7 holidays per person in 2015, approximately half the 3.0 holidays they took in 2011.

The overseas market appears to have benefitted most from the increase in the number of holidays taken per person. In 2014 holidaymakers took an average of 1.2 overseas holidays; in 2015 this had changed to 1.5 overseas holidays, with a particular increase in the number of overseas holidays of 7+ nights.

The increase in foreign breaks may be partly attributed to the strong pound against a range of foreign currencies, in particular the Euro, against which it reached an eight year high in July 2015. It may also be an indication that household finances and consumer confidence are recovering after the recession.

The number of domestic holidays taken per person has fallen slightly in the past year, which may be partly attributed to a market correction after the credit crunch. In 2009 the number of domestic holidays taken reached record highs according to VisitEngland.

While numbers have dipped slightly since 2009 they are still much higher than they were before the financial crisis hit in 2007/8, suggesting that the staycation is still a popular option.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said: “The travel industry has seen a steady return to growth in recent years following the credit crunch and worldwide economic crisis. It is very encouraging to see optimism and growth with many people choosing to take more holidays, particularly longer overseas breaks. However, some people are clearly still feeling the pinch and are either cutting back on the number of holidays, or not taking a holiday at all. This suggests the “long-tail” of the recession is still having an impact on people’s ability to afford at least one holiday a year.”