Outbound tourism statistics

A summary of the travelling habits of the UK


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We analysed the most recent available data from the ONS to get some insight into the travel industry, as it stands today. Read on to see how many holidays people in the UK take, where they’re going, and how much they spend while they’re there. Don’t miss our handy travel guide to find the best holiday deals for you and your family along the way.

The latest facts and figures

In 2019, the average UK resident was abroad for a total of 9.8 nights, and spent £661 while there. In total, 72.6 million trips were taken, amounting to £48 billion spent abroad by tourists from the UK.

9.8 nights

spent abroad by the average UK resident in 2019

£48 billion

spent in total by tourists from the UK in 2019, 6% more than in 2018.

What are the UK’s top travel destinations?

Spain tops the list, with 15.62 million visitors from the UK in 2018. France is second, with 8.56 million. Italy is next with almost half that number, at 4.33 million visitors. The full top ten list can be seen below.

Travel trends of the UK

Generally speaking, this country’s residents are taking more holidays, and spending more of their hard-earned pounds while away.

Travelling trends during the coronavirus

The UK government has advised Brits to avoid all but essential travel, which is naturally resulting in less tourism and fewer jobs within this sector. Consequently, airlines, hotels, restaurants, and many other tourism-dependent companies have closed temporarily or even gone into administration. 75.2 million positions within the tourism industry are predicted to be made redundant globally, with 1 million of those being located in the UK. In Europe, Germany is set to be the most affected country with 1.6 million jobs being made redundant, while the worst affected continent is Asia, where 49 million jobs are at stake.

The lack of tourism during the corona pandemic could potentially hit the world economy hard, as the sector brings in 10.4% of the global GDP. This could make a loss of $1.6 trillion in total. The most devastating economic impact is predicted in the Asia Pacific, as tourism was estimated to bring in a huge £650 billion, and £440 billion to Europe.

Region Loss in profits
Asia Pacific £650 billion
Europe £440 billion
US/Canada/Mexico £455 billion
Middle East £52 billion

The yearly number of trips abroad rose slightly in 2019

In 2019, UK residents took 72.6 million trips overseas in total. That was an 1% increase from 2018, or 1 million more visits. The number of trips had been steadily increasing for years, having gone up by 29% (or 16.2 million trips) from 2012 to 2017, as can be seen in our chart below. The average length of trips has also decreased to 9.8 nights, from 10.4 in 2018. While the length of trips decreasing, the number of trips is increasing and as a consequence the total amount spent by Brits has also increased in 2019, by 8%.

Number of trips abroad from the UK 2012-2019
Year Total visits abroad
2019 72,610,000
2018 71,733,383
2017 72,772,096
2016 70,814,780
2015 65,719,911
2014 60,081,883
2013 57,792,474
2012 56,537,596

1.2% more

trips were taken abroad in 2019 compared to 2018.

The average spending per trip abroad (in pounds) is increasing

Despite Brits taking less trips abroad in 2018 than in 2017, the total amount spend increased by 1%, to £45.4 billion. This means the average spend per trip was £633, £17 more than in 2017 and £15 more than in 2016.

Total amount spent each year by UK tourists
Year Avg. spend per visit Spend per day Total spend
2019 £661 £67 £48 billion
2018 £633 £65 £45.4 billion
2017 £616 £60 £44.8 billion
2016 £618 £60 £43.8 billion
2015 £594 £57 £39.0 billion
2014 £591 £58 £35.5 billion
2013 £597 £57 £34.5 billion
2012 £573 £55 £32.4 billion

Top 10 travel destinations from the UK

The UK’s favourite destinations have remained largely unchanged since 2012, Spain remains the UK’s most popular tourist destination but the number of visits did fall by 2% from 2017, the first time this number has fallen since 2009. Among the top 10 most visited countries Poland experienced the biggest change from 2017 to 2018, with the number of visits falling by 7%. Explore the tables below for more information.

Location Number of visits
Spain 15.62 million
France 8.56 million
Italy 4.33 million
USA 3.47 million
Republic of Ireland 3.22 million
Portugal 2.82 million
Germany 2.81 million
Netherlands 2.72 million
Poland 2.47 million
Greece 2.47 million
Location Number of visits
Spain 15.87 million
France 8.86 million
Italy 4.16 million
Republic of Ireland 3.42 million
USA 3.40 million
Germany 2.91 million
Portugal 2.87 million
Poland 2.67 million
Netherlands 2.66 million
Greece 2.38 million

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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