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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 guide on money transfers to find the best deals for you and your family when travelling abroad.
- In 2022, UK residents took an estimated 71.8 million trips overseas, 375% more than in 2021.
- UK residents made an estimated 16.5 million trips to Spain in 2022, making it the most popular destination for outbound tourism.
- In 2022, the estimated number of business trips has more than halved (-114%) compared to 2019, going from 9 million in 2019 to 4.2 million in 2022.
- UK residents spent an estimated £60 billion overseas in 2022.
- 58% of Brits plan their next holiday during work hours.
- In 2020, 62 million jobs were lost in the travel and tourism sector globally.
Total annual amount of trips taken by UK citizens each year
Outbound tourism has fallen since the start of the pandemic in 2020, with travel restrictions and health concerns holding many travellers back.
Travel is still down 23% compared to its peak, going from 93.1 million trips in 2019 to 71.8 million in 2022. However, compared to last year, UK residents took 52.7 million more trips in 2022 than in 2021, a 375% increase despite the cost of living crisis.
|Year||Number of visits abroad from the United Kingdom|
How many Brits are going abroad this year?
Two-thirds (66%) of Brits are planning to put at least some money towards going on holiday abroad in 2023, according to our survey, while 27% were not planning to spend money on holidays abroad or were only planning to go on holiday in the UK.
What are the UK’s top travel destinations?
Spain tops the list, with an estimated 16.5 million visitors from the UK in 2022. France is second with 7 million UK visitors while Greece follows closely behind with 4.2 million visitors.
The top ten destinations for Brits are:
- 1. Spain: 16.5 million visitors
2. France: 7 million visitors
3. Greece: 4.2 million visitors
4. Italy: 4.1 million visitors
5. Portugal: 3.8 million visitors
6. USA: 3.3 million visitors
7. Rep. of Ireland: 2.8 million visitors
8. Turkey: 2.8 million visitors
9. Poland: 2.3 million visitors
10. Netherlands: 1.8 million visitors
|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||2.83|
|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||0.98|
|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||0.62|
|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||0.07|
|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||0.29|
What are the UK’s top destinations outside of Europe?
The top 5 most popular destinations for Brits in 2022 were all in Europe. However, an estimated 14.5 million UK residents have travelled outside of Europe in 2022. The top destinations included the US with 3.2 million estimated visitors followed by India with 1.3 million and the UAE with 1 million.
|Country||Estimated visits in 2022 (million)|
Why do UK residents take trips abroad?
Holidays are the most common reason for leaving the country, with UK residents taking an estimated 46.8 million trips to go on holiday in 2022. Visiting friends and family comes in second place followed by business trips, with 19.4 million and 4.2 million respectively.
All categories of travel struggled since the pandemic. However, business trips are trailing in the recovery. In 2022, the estimated number of business trips has more than halved (-114%) compared to 2019.
|Year||All visits||Holiday||Business||Visit friends & family|
Overseas spending by Brits
In 2022, UK residents spent an estimated £60 billion overseas compared to only £15.3 billion in 2021. Most spending was done on holidays (70%), followed by visits to friends and family (20%) and business trips (8%). Around 2% of total spending abroad came from trips with miscellaneous purposes.
|Type of trip||Billion £ spent in 2021||Billion £ spent in 2022*|
|Visit friends or relatives||5.2||11.7|
How do Brits plan their holidays?
Our survey 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 an estimated 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.
|Yorkshire and the Humber||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||Travel and tourism employees globally|
- Finder commissioned a nationally representative survey on planned holiday spending in June 2023 of adults aged 18 and older. A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.
- Finder commissioned a nationally representative survey on how Brits plan holidays in 2019 of adults aged 18 and older. A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region.
- Office for National Statistics (ONS)
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