Outbound tourism statistics

Where do Brits go on holiday? We summarise the latest outbound travelling habits of UK residents.

We analysed the most recent outbound tourism statistics to get some insight into the travel industry as it stands today. Read on to see how many trips abroad people in the UK take, where they’re going and how much they spend while they’re there. And don’t miss our handy travel guide to find the best holiday deals for you and your family.

The latest facts and figures

  • In 2021, UK residents took 19.1 million trips overseas, 79% less than in 2019 (93.1 million).
  • The most popular destination for Brits was Spain, with 4.23 million visiting in 2021.
  • The total amount spent overseas in 2021 was £15.4 billion.
  • 58% of Brits plan their next holiday during work hours.
  • In 2020, 62 million jobs were lost in the travel and tourism sector globally.
  • In 2021, Brits spent 18 nights overseas on average, compared to 10 nights in 2019.

What are the UK’s top travel destinations?

Spain tops the list, with 4.23 million visitors from the UK in 2021. Portugal is second, with 1.6 million UK visitors. Greece follows closely behind with 1.3 million visitors. The full list of the most popular British destinations can be seen below.

Region 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021
Spain 12.11 11.35 11.82 12.24 12.84 13.57 14.3 15.94 17.65 17.93 18.13 4.23
France 10.51 10.53 10.62 10.42 10.49 10.65 10.52 10.03 10.64 10.85 10.35 1.59
Italy 2.82 2.63 2.77 3.07 3.3 3.51 4.12 4.63 4.9 5.29 5.11 0.85
USA 3.54 3.92 4.07 3.74 3.83 4.2 4.4 4.38 4.44 4.94 4.81 0.55
Rep. of Ireland 4.05 3.83 4.27 3.72 3.77 4.06 4.51 4.68 4.58 4.7 4.79 1.06
Netherlands 2.01 2.05 2.24 2.26 2.32 2.54 2.98 3.14 3.12 3.36 3.57 0.35
Greece 1.99 1.85 2.19 2.05 2.03 2.22 2.6 2.72 2.71 2.91 3.44 1.13
Germany 2.33 2.51 2.73 2.79 2.93 2.91 3.16 3.25 3.58 3.63 3.38 0.51
Portugal 1.91 2.08 2.2 2.13 2.33 2.48 2.9 3.09 3.27 3.32 3.31 1.16
Poland 1.66 1.64 1.68 1.82 1.92 1.99 2.32 2.7 3.06 2.94 3.23 0.94
Turkey 1.72 2.01 1.83 1.63 1.56 1.65 1.76 1.21 1.45 1.75 2.29 0.35
Belgium 1.54 1.66 1.8 2.07 2.01 2.19 2.05 1.9 2.06 2.09 2.1 0.19
India 0.96 1.04 1.14 0.98 1.08 1.13 1.19 1.23 1.36 1.47 1.61 0.37
Switzerland 0.94 1.06 1.03 1.05 1.16 1.06 1.13 1.2 1.19 1.32 1.35 0.17
Romania 0.16 0.18 0.22 0.22 0.29 0.41 0.56 0.88 1.16 1.23 1.29 0.63
United Arab Emirates 0.61 0.59 0.67 0.7 0.77 0.9 0.95 1.09 1.31 1.14 1.29 0.02
Cyprus 1.06 1 1.08 0.94 0.77 0.71 0.74 0.93 1.02 0.88 1.05 0.25
Hungary 0.25 0.31 0.33 0.35 0.39 0.44 0.58 0.72 0.77 0.73 0.92 0.17
Malta 0.39 0.49 0.52 0.52 0.59 0.62 0.56 0.72 0.6 0.8 0.84 0.23
Morocco 0.33 0.35 0.37 0.43 0.54 0.55 0.65 0.55 0.68 0.77 0.81 0.12
Czech Republic 0.47 0.42 0.45 0.41 0.42 0.38 0.51 0.6 0.69 0.63 0.78 0.1
Pakistan 0.43 0.5 0.43 0.5 0.47 0.46 0.49 0.63 0.74 0.73 0.77 0.27
Canada 0.52 0.5 0.54 0.47 0.46 0.55 0.53 0.66 0.68 0.78 0.76 0.12
Austria 0.76 0.7 0.62 0.62 0.71 0.63 0.67 0.91 0.7 0.7 0.73 0.08
Bulgaria 0.27 0.25 0.33 0.34 0.33 0.38 0.34 0.48 0.6 0.69 0.72 0.21
Mexico 0.21 0.35 0.34 0.34 0.52 0.5 0.6 0.56 0.63 0.84 0.69 0.09
Other Caribbean 0.65 0.67 0.66 0.57 0.58 0.5 0.59 0.72 0.71 0.74 0.57 0.15
Australia 0.49 0.55 0.51 0.47 0.51 0.55 0.55 0.53 0.58 0.48 0.55 0.01
Norway 0.28 0.27 0.32 0.35 0.4 0.37 0.43 0.45 0.4 0.45 0.53 0.07
Thailand 0.39 0.42 0.47 0.47 0.5 0.51 0.57 0.59 0.56 0.58 0.52 0.03
Denmark 0.35 0.31 0.39 0.41 0.42 0.46 0.55 0.64 0.57 0.56 0.52 0.11
Sweden 0.39 0.39 0.46 0.42 0.36 0.36 0.47 0.5 0.47 0.53 0.52 0.11
Lithuania 0.13 0.16 0.22 0.23 0.21 0.27 0.3 0.38 0.44 0.44 0.51 0.17
South Africa 0.4 0.47 0.43 0.45 0.38 0.41 0.44 0.44 0.48 0.48 0.49 0.03
Fly/cruise (stay onboard) 0.68 0.7 0.63 0.55 0.6 0.62 0.6 0.72 0.55 0.46 0.47 0.04
Tunisia 0.38 0.46 0.41 0.43 0.5 0.5 0.3 0.05 0.03 0.2 0.38 0.02
Japan 0.14 0.13 0.11 0.12 0.13 0.17 0.18 0.18 0.21 0.23 0.36 0.01
Jamaica 0.21 0.23 0.27 0.22 0.16 0.26 0.25 0.26 0.21 0.32 0.36 0.09
Hong Kong (China) 0.16 0.2 0.19 0.24 0.18 0.2 0.2 0.21 0.26 0.36 0.34 0.02
Nigeria 0.14 0.15 0.16 0.19 0.18 0.19 0.21 0.24 0.25 0.22 0.27 0.14
Slovakia 0.16 0.13 0.1 0.16 0.13 0.16 0.2 0.24 0.21 0.22 0.23 0.06
Finland 0.17 0.13 0.17 0.15 0.21 0.24 0.23 0.23 0.21 0.32 0.22 0.13
Russia 0.14 0.12 0.17 0.17 0.18 0.18 0.16 0.15 0.23 0.16 0.21 0.04
Sri Lanka 0.14 0.15 0.14 0.15 0.13 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.2 0.2 0.21 0.03
Barbados 0.09 0.1 0.1 0.12 0.04 0.08 0.14 0.14 0.17 0.12 0.21 0.09
Rest of the World 0.04 0.23 0.31 0.21 0.21 0.21 0.21 0.21 0.2 0.21 0.2 0.03
Israel 0.14 0.13 0.13 0.12 0.12 0.13 0.13 0.12 0.17 0.13 0.2 0.03
Egypt 0.81 0.77 0.6 0.49 0.48 0.36 0.36 0.14 0.23 0.25 0.17 0.06
Brazil 0.09 0.12 0.12 0.15 0.13 0.15 0.16 0.11 0.14 0.12 0.14 0.02
New Zealand 0.13 0.17 0.16 0.14 0.13 0.14 0.16 0.14 0.19 0.14 0.13 0.07
Luxembourg 0.07 0.12 0.07 0.1 0.12 0.1 0.08 0.09 0.1 0.07 0.09 0.01

The total annual amount of trips taken by UK citizens each year.

Due to the pandemic, UK residents took significantly fewer overseas trips in 2020 compared to 2019. However, in 2021, trips overseas continued to decrease.

In 2021, UK residents took 19.1 million trips overseas. This is 4.7 million less than in 2020. In 2019, trips overseas were at their height (93.1 million visits in total). That’s 2.5 million more visits than in 2018.

Year Number of visits abroad from the United Kingdom
2009 63.5
2010 64.7
2011 67.5
2012 66.8
2013 69
2014 72.2
2015 77.6
2016 81.8
2017 87.2
2018 90.6
2019 93.1
2020 23.8
2021 19.1

How many trips are taken by Brits each year on average?

Despite the number of holidays showing a decrease from 2019 due to the pandemic, the average time spent overseas has increased. In 2021, we went away for 18 nights on average, compared to 10 nights in 2019.

Holidays have increased from 9 nights in 2019 up to 11 nights in 2021. Slightly longer in duration, business trips on average last 13 nights. This is a much longer stay compared to 2019 when business trips lasted just over 5 nights.

Total World 2017 2018 2019 2021
Holiday 9.3 8.9 8.7 10.8
Business 6 5.8 5.3 13.2
Visiting family & friends 14.6 14 13.6 24.8
Miscellaneous 11.1 13 12.8 29.6
All visits 10.4 9.9 9.7 17.6

The average spend per trip by Brits abroad each year

The total amount spent overseas in 2021 was £15.4 million. As expected, this is a stark decrease from 2019. In 2019, the total amount spent overseas was £62.3 billion, a 7% increase from 2018.

Total World 2017 2018 2019 2021
Holiday 36,940 39,700 43,360 7,951
Business 6,475 6,861 6,256 1,497
Visiting friends or relatives 9,434 9,778 10,497 5,116
Miscellaneous 1,577 1,789 2,212 882
All visits 54,426 58,128 62,325 15,446

How do Brits plan their holidays?

Our survey in 2019 showed that over half (58%) of Brits plan their next holiday during work hours. The average employee spends 29 minutes planning getaways every week, which amounts to more than 3 working days a year of holiday shopping. That’s equivalent to a bonus long weekend you might not have accounted for. On a national scale, this is costing UK businesses £180 million in wages per week or £9.3 billion annually. And the numbers stack up, with 125 million working days lost on holiday planning across the UK.

Interestingly, Londoners spend the most time at work planning holidays, at 39 minutes a week, 34% higher than the national average. People in East Anglia are significantly less guilty of this behaviour, averaging 21 minutes per week.

Region Minutes
Scotland 28
Northern Ireland 28
North East 32
North West 30
Yorkshire and the Humber 24
East Midlands 27
West Midlands 32
Wales 26
East England 21
London 39
South East 28
South West 24

The impact of the pandemic on travel and tourism

During the pandemic, the UK government advised Brits to avoid all but essential travel. This naturally resulted in less tourism and fewer jobs within this sector. In 2020, just 271 million people were employed across this sector globally, a sharp decrease from the 333 million people employed in 2019. However, 18.2 million jobs were recovered in 2021.

The lack of tourism during the coronavirus pandemic hit the world economy hard, as the sector brings in 10.4% of the global GDP.

Year T&T employees globally
2019 333 million
2020 271 million
2021 289 million

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