Jet-set Britain: Exploring Trends and Insights for Travel and Tourism in the UK in 2023
Is life a pendulum constantly swinging between the PTO (paid time off) you just had and the next PTO you’re going to request?
Luckily for you, the Appinio Hype Train is here to sweeten this in-between time.
The travel industry is an interesting one as it has seen its fair share of changes and challenges in recent years. From the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the growing awareness of sustainability concerns, there's much to unpack. We'll delve into the heart of these matters and provide you with a detailed look at how British travellers are navigating this dynamic landscape.
Appinio has surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1000 Brits, and investigated everything from travel frequencies and accommodation preferences to the burning questions about sustainability and the overtourism phenomenon. By the end of this blogpost, you'll have a comprehensive overview of the state of the UK's travel and tourism industry in 2023, and a wealth of statistics, facts, and insights to keep you informed and inspired.
Key takeaways from the Appinio Hype Train Report on travel & tourism
- Travel behaviour in 2023
British travellers adapted to post-pandemic conditions by embarking on more frequent and extended trips, including the trend of "revenge travel". However, the cost-of-living crisis led to reduced travel frequency and closer-to-home destinations due to inflation. Travel companions varied, with couples, solo travellers, and families. Off-peak travel gained popularity, offering quieter and more affordable experiences.
- Resurgence of domestic tourism
It's evident that domestic tourism in the UK has experienced a resurgence. British holidaymakers have been rediscovering the wonders of their home country, driven by factors such as Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis. The South West region, in particular, emerged as a preferred choice for staycations.
- Sustainability and climate-conscious travel
British travellers are starting to place importance on sustainability in their travel decisions. Many seem to be willing to pay more for climate-friendly options when travelling, i.e. paying more for accommodations. However, there is a reluctance to limit air travel, possibly due to short PTO and the desire for longer, more relaxing vacations.
💡 Ready for take-off? Then download the Hype Train Report for free!
Status quo of the travel & tourism industry in the UK
The travel and tourism industry is dynamic by nature and is constantly shaped by factors such as global events, evolving consumer preferences, and technological advancements. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has been struggling to find its footing, we could say, it got long covid.
The disruption of travel altogether and business-as-usual practices was so profound that issues emerged during the pandemic keep interfering with travellers till this day, so much that the amount of disturbances faced by holidaymakers in the summer of 2023 has been called unprecedented.
There was a notable decline in the number of Britons taking holidays during 2020 and 2021, but the situation luckily improved in 2022, Statista says.
When considering international travel, Spain, the United States, and France emerged as the top destinations for UK outbound travellers.
Conversely, the South West region of the UK emerged as the preferred choice for summer staycations.
Statista projected that the revenue in the Travel & Tourism market is to reach £32.22bn in 2023, and that revenue is expected to show a slow annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of -0.48%, resulting in a projected market volume of £31.61bn by 2027.
Travel behaviour of British holidaymakers in 2023
Yet UK holidaymakers are undeterred.
According to Ms. Lo Bue-Said (chief executive, Advantage Travel Partnership) for British newspaper The Independent: “Desire to travel among Brits has not abated. Summer from a trading point of view has been exceptional. We have seen significant business increases and some really exciting destinations.”
Of course, after years of restrictions and limitations, revenge travel, a.k.a. consumers finding travel more appealing than ever, resulting in countless people travelling for longer and more frequently, was to be expected.
However, misery loves company.
Once COVID restriction started to ease, the cost-of-living crisis reared its head and it forced Brits to change once again their travel plans.
The Appinio Hype Train Report shows that
- 40% (strongly) agree that due to inflation, they reduced the number of trips they made this year.
- 34% (strongly) agree that due to inflation, they chose holiday destinations closer to home.
Some consumers may need to wait a bit longer to book their revenge trips.
Domestic vs. international travel
The debate between domestic and international travel remains at the forefront of travel decisions.
Many Brits have been rediscovering the wonders of their home country, with domestic tourism experiencing a resurgence, especially to the windy beaches of the South West.
The reasons are multifaceted.
First of all, British citizens started to feel the effects of Brexit, then the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions came to be, followed by an energy crisis. To top it all off, there were shortages in travel and airport staff, plus strikes. Not the best start to a holiday, right?
No wonder 55% of Brits thought domestic travel was the safest option to enjoy some well-deserved PTO.
Nevertheless, international travel kept its allure.
Travellers seek adventures and sunshine abroad, as demonstrated by 45% of British holidaymakers having gone / going to international destinations.
The Appinio Hype Train data also show an interesting difference between age groups: Baby Boomers are the most likely to travel domestically (62%), while Gen Z the most likely to travel internationally (50%).
Long vs. short haul
The choice between long-haul and short-haul destinations is another important aspect of travel behaviour.
Is a weekend enough to unwind or are Brits packing anti-jet-lag remedies with them?
It looks like Brits seem to prefer long-haul journeys that offer the promise of far-flung adventures, cultural exploration, and new experiences (55%).
On the other hand, the convenience and cost-effectiveness of short-haul travel within the UK and/or Europe continues to captivate a significant portion of British travellers (45%).
The Appinio Hype Train data also show an interesting difference between age groups once again: Baby Boomers are the most likely to do short trips (52%), while Gen Z are the most likely to do long trips (60%).
Travelling in company
British holidaymakers exhibit diverse preferences when it comes to companionship during their journeys.
- Couples seeking romantic getaways are a substantial portion of travellers, 27% of British travellers do so. Baby Boomers are the most likely to travel with their significant other (39%).
- Only 18% of British holidaymakers travelled or will travel solo this 2023, Millennials seem the most likely to do so (21%).
- Group travel seems to be the least popular option, as only 16% had done so. Gen Z are the most likely to travel with a group (24%).
- Family vacations remain a cherished tradition for 39% of British travellers, 35-44 years-olds are the most likely to travel with family (45%).
Peak season vs. off-peak
Travel patterns in 2023 reflect a noteworthy trend where British consumers are increasingly looking beyond the traditional peak season.
While the summer months or school breaks continue to be popular for vacations, there's a growing appetite for off-peak travel.
Over one in two (57%) are more inclined to travel off-peak. This means that many travellers are exploring the charm of destinations during the quieter months, taking advantage of smaller crowds and often more affordable prices.
The way Brits book their trip has evolved, reflecting the digital age's influence.
Over the years, there has been a significant shift towards online platforms and apps for booking flights, accommodations, and activities. These platforms offer convenience, a wide range of choices, and often competitive prices, in fact nearly three quarters (74%) of UK travellers have been booking their accommodation online, both desktop and mobile.
However, traditional travel agencies still hold sway with a portion of the population (28%), especially for those who value personalised service and expert advice.
💡Need more insights to feed your roadmap to your holiday?
Brits’ accommodation preferences
Accommodation is a critical piece of any travel puzzle.
Will the bed be comfortable enough, or are the pillows as hard as your mum’s comments on your new haircut? Is the location nice and quiet, or would you need earplugs to be able to sleep? How are the vibes at the reception, is the staff helpful or are they scrolling on TikTok all day long?
These are all legitimate questions that every traveller asks themselves when booking an accommodation, hoping they haven’t been scammed!
Let’s deep dive into their habits and trends and understand what they are looking for.
When it comes to accommodation, British travellers display a wide spectrum of preferences.
- Traditional hotels continue to be a top choice for 70%, offering a combination of comfort and amenities.
- Resorts come in second (37%), followed by B&B at 33%.
- Vacation rentals like AirBnB or HomeToGo rank fourth at 31%, Baby Boomers are the most likely to prefer this option (39%) among all other age brackets.
When it comes to vacation rentals, vacation homes and cabins/cottages are the most popular choice (both at 50%), with cabins and cottages being a must for Baby Boomers at 58%.
Beach homes rank second (40%), but they are the go-to for Gen Z (59%).
Alternative lodging options
Beyond the conventional choices, travellers are increasingly embracing alternative and unconventional accommodations. Tiny houses, often nestled in picturesque natural settings, provide a cosy and minimalistic escape. Houseboats offer a unique way to stay right on the water, allowing travellers to drift off to sleep with the gentle sway of the waves.
These alternative options cater to those seeking an offbeat and memorable stay. However, these options are not often used by UK holidaymakers, 70% of them say they never used alternative lodging.
Despite looking like the cutest thing on earth, these accommodations often have limited space, making them less suitable for larger groups and extended stays. Comfort and amenities may not match traditional lodging, and accessibility, privacy, seasonal limitations can be factors to weigh. Safety, sanitation, and lack of standardisation are also concerns, while high demand during peak travel times may affect booking availability.
Factors influencing accommodation choices
The factors influencing accommodation choices are multifaceted.
- Budget considerations play a crucial role, 70% travellers seeking affordability and others willing to splurge for a luxurious experience.
- Location, proximity to attractions, and the ease of transportation are also key factors for 64%.
- 41% decide after careful research and take into account reviews and ratings.
- Comfort, of course, makes it to the top 5 with 39% looking for a comfortable and pleasant accommodation to relax after a day of exploration.
- One third (32%) look for the amenities like pools, gym or pet-friendly lodging, meaning that travellers are not satisfied with “just a place to sleep” anymore.
Willingness to pay for premium amenities
Many (36%) British travellers are increasingly willing to invest in premium amenities that enhance their overall travel experience. These amenities can include spa services, fine dining, private pools, and more. The willingness to pay extra for such features demonstrates a desire for a higher level of comfort and indulgence during their trips.
💡 Packing for your trip? Then don't forget to download the Hype Train Report for free!
Insights into Brits’ climate-conscious choices when travelling
Nearly two thirds (60%) of travellers are willing to pay a premium / additional fee to choose a more climate friendly travel option. The desire to minimise the carbon footprint of their journeys has become a driving force behind their travel decisions.
However, when asked exactly how they’d like to contribute to a more sustainable way of travel:
- 43% would be willing to pay higher prices for accommodations,
- 42% would be willing to pay higher prices for transport,
- 15% would be willing to pay higher city taxes.
Efforts to be more climate-friendly
As climate change awareness continues to grow, some British travellers are contemplating the need to limit their journeys for climate reasons.
One third (33%) state they have been trying to reduce the number of their trips in order to be climate-friendly, but the striking majority doesn’t think of refraining from travelling when and how much they want/can.
Willingness to limit travel for climate reasons
A small portion of travellers is willing to reduce their travel frequency or travel shorter distances to minimise their carbon footprint.
And, when asked whether they’ll be willing to travel only once a year by plane, British holidaymakers were split, with 51% saying they wouldn’t want to limit their air travel.
Interestingly, Gen Z and Millennials, two of the age cohorts most vocal about climate change and the need to tackle the climate crisis as fast as possible, seem the least likely to be wanting to limit their travel.
There’s clearly an age effect as the younger the respondents the less willing to give up on travel.
Could it be because, being still in their prime, they want to explore the world as much as possible before starting to experience mobility or health issues that could hinder their ability to travel?
All considered, it is clear that this unwillingness to limit their air travel goes deeper than not wanting to be climate friendly.
Consumers may not want to give up air travels for multiple reasons:
- PTO is often short, so having to spend more time travelling by train or car could actually shorten the holiday and dampen the relaxation effect a holiday is supposed to give
- For those living in one country but having family or business ties in another, air travel is often the most practical way to stay connected.
- Air travel opens up opportunities for adventure and exploration, allowing people to discover new places and create memorable experiences.
The overtourism phenomenon
As travel and tourism continue to thrive in the United Kingdom, the concept of overtourism has started to make an appearance.
Overtourism represents a complex challenge, where the popularity of a destination can sometimes lead to adverse consequences, including overcrowding, environmental degradation, and cultural erosion.
Awareness of overtourism phenomenon
Overtourism has become a buzzword in the world of travel only recently.
In fact the majority (61%) of Brits have never heard of this term and 27% heard of the term but aren't sure of what that means.
It is clear that not many are aware of the challenges posed by overtourism, which often involves crowded destinations, environmental degradation, and strained local resources, and how this phenomenon will be changing the travel & tourism industry.
Many popular destinations like Florence, Venice (Italy) and Mount Fuji (Japan) are thinking of introducing a set number of visitors per day to limit disruptions.
The city of Florence has even introduced an Airbnb ban in the city centre, as vacation rentals were robbing residents of housing.
Other regulatory measures are visitor quotas, limited access to sensitive areas, and the implementation of tourist taxes to manage the influx of visitors.
It’s clear that economies heavily dependent on tourism are now starting to see the dark side of the tourists influx and are starting to think of measures for preserving the integrity of the destination and ensuring a positive experience for both travellers and local residents.
Attitudes toward measures to combat overtourism
In response to the overtourism phenomenon, British travellers exhibit a range of attitudes and opinions regarding the measures to combat it.
Nearly one in two (46%) Brits (strongly) agree with implementing measures against overtourism. However, and funnily enough, they wouldn’t be willing to pay higher city taxes (previous slide), an extremely popular measure that most saturated holiday destinations have introduced.
The overtourism phenomenon is an issue that is still failing to capture the attention of British travellers, and their attitudes towards addressing it reflect their lack of knowledge.
New trends shaping the travel and tourism industry
The world of travel and tourism has been always witnessing fascinating transformations and several trends have been shaping the industry.
Luckily, we had an amazing expert to guide us and make sense of the travel and tourism industry: Jonas Upmann from HomeToGo, the marketplace with the world's largest selection of vacation homes.
Jonas is the Head of Consumer Communications, with expertise across content marketing, PR (digital and traditional), and SEO, alongside more than eight years of experience in one of Berlin’s leading travel tech companies, Jonas is a seasoned industry professional and a true travel expert. Additionally, Jonas has lectured in PR at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, and is employed as a guest lecturer for content marketing at the Swiss Zurich University of Applied Sciences with a focus on storytelling and the distribution of content. Combining a classic PR background with modern inbound marketing techniques, Jonas' focus at HomeToGo is driving impactful coverage of HomeToGo and the HomeToGo Group's brands on top domains, creating brand awareness and SEO visibility to increase organic traffic.
Jonas gave us insights on the newest and hottest trends in the travel and tourism industry.
- One such trend that's gained immense traction is the habit of booking trips well in advance. British consumers are showing an unprecedented level of curiosity and awareness when it comes to planning their journeys, and the buzz surrounding this trend is the biggest recorded by the Appinio Hype Tracker. The idea of securing travel plans ahead of time is a hot topic of discussion in consumer circles, reflecting multiple consumers' needs, being cost-effective in a cost-of-living crisis period, but also having something to look forward to.
- On a parallel track, we find the anticipation for summer holidays in 2024, albeit with a twist. While curiosity remains high, the awareness levels are slightly lower, resulting in a somewhat subdued buzz. It's an intriguing contrast, suggesting that consumers are keeping their summer dreams somewhat close to the vest.
- International travel is staging a remarkable comeback. It boasts the third-highest curiosity levels but has skyrocketed to the second-highest slot in awareness. The consumer buzz around international travel is substantial. A testament to the pent-up wanderlust of British travellers, eager to explore the world once again.
- Domestic travel, although equally appealing, has a slightly different story to tell. While awareness levels rank third, and the buzz is significant, it takes a slightly backseat to international journeys in terms of curiosity. In essence, British travellers are embracing both global and local adventures with equal enthusiasm, but their discussions reveal a penchant for planning ahead and embarking on international escapades that speak to their enduring spirit of exploration.
In the ever-evolving realm of travel and tourism, consumers are the biggest players, continually adapting to global shifts, emerging trends, and shifting priorities. The Appinio Hype Train Report on the status travel and tourism industry in 2023 has uncovered a rich tapestry of experiences, choices, and attitudes among travellers. From the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of domestic tourism, the rise of sustainability consciousness, and the complexities of overtourism, travellers are embracing change with resilience and vigour. Looking forward to the travel landscape for 2024, it becomes clear that today's travellers are adapting faster than ever and keep looking for adventures, far away and closer to home. And these travellers will always find the right accommodation for every type of trip at HomeToGo.
💡What else are fellow travellers discussing when planning their holiday? Find out on the Hype Tracker!
In the ever-evolving realm of travel and tourism, the United Kingdom stands as a dynamic player, continually adapting to global shifts, emerging trends, and shifting priorities.
The Appinio Hype Train Report on the UK travel and tourism industry in 2023 has uncovered a rich tapestry of experiences, choices, and attitudes among British travellers. From the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the resurgence of domestic tourism, the rise of sustainability consciousness, and the complexities of overtourism, British travellers are embracing change with resilience and vigour.
Join the loop 💌
Be the first to hear about new updates, product news, and data insights. We'll send it all straight to your inbox.