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If you are looking for love this Valentine’s Day, then it seems going on holiday could be just the ticket, as according to the latest Mintel research, 41% of Brits agree that group holidays are a good way to meet a potential partner.

While Shirley Valentine brought holiday romance in the spotlight for the nation’s women, Mintel reveals that men (47%) are considerably more likely than women (37%) to see group holidays as a good way to find love. And although it is the nation’s young who are the most likely to see group holidays as a way to meet a partner (57% of 16-24s agree with this), a third (32%) of Brits aged 65+ also view group holidays as a key to romance – proving you are never too old to find love on holiday.

John Worthington, Senior Travel Analyst at Mintel, said:

“An old-fashioned holiday romance remains a popular concept among Brits, none more so than for the young. In an age of social media, it could be that meeting someone in person, with a shared love of travel, provides the perfect antidote to online dating. For young, unattached solo travellers, the popularity of ITV2’s Love Island may also be inspiring young Brits to be more open to a holiday romance. However, the prospect of finding love whilst holidaying does need to be handled sensitively, as many solo travellers could find heavy-handed connotations of dating off-putting. Holiday operators need to find a low-key, light touch way of signalling these possibilities. One way to appeal to this trend could be by highlighting occasional real-life examples of couples having met on group holidays to be used alongside stories of lasting friendships.”

Solo stigma

Those who love to travel join a growing number of solo travellers – who either holiday alone or join a group of people they don’t already know. According to Mintel, a fifth (17%) of UK adults have taken a holiday on their own*** in the last five years*. This is a slight rise from 15% in 2017**, with men (20%) more likely than women (13%) to go on holiday on their own.

But while solo travel has become a mainstream holiday choice, Mintel finds there is still some way to go in terms of shifting perceptions. Some 45% of Brits agree there’s a stigma attached to going on holiday on your own. Meanwhile, a further 41% of solo travellers (rising to 54% of all Brits) agree that holidaying on your own can be lonely while 34% of solo travellers (rising to 47% of all Brits) feel it can be unsafe.

Although solo travel has some image issues, Mintel finds that a sense of free spirit runs strong among those who travel alone: indeed, 61% of those who have taken a solo trip agree you can have more of an adventure travelling on your own, compared to only 41% of consumers as a whole.

“The general population is more likely than those who have been away on their own to perceive solo travel as lonely and dangerous. These negative perceptions may be deterring people from trying a solo break. Solo travel bloggers, male and female, could be used by travel brands and tourism marketers as influencers, helping to provide reassurance and communicate their own positive experiences around freedom and adventure.” Adds John.

Me-time drives solo travel for couples

Finally, Mintel reveals travelling alone is by no means exclusive to singletons. In total, as many as 32% of solo travellers are living as a couple.

While almost half (46%) of solo travellers living in a couple holidayed alone because their partner/family could not/did not want to go, almost four in ten (38%) felt they needed some time to themselves.

But solo travellers beware, as you may well be labelled selfish by your nearest and dearest. Some 31% of Brits feel that going on holiday on your own instead of with your partner/family seems selfish, with men (37%) more likely than women (25%) to agree.

“As more traditional expectations about family norms and gender roles change, there is a growing market for occasional ‘his’ and ‘her’ solo holidays. But Mintel’s research also points to guilt and possible tension between couples over ‘me-time’ solo breaks, with men far more likely than women to see them as ‘selfish’. One explanation could be that women are more attracted by the idea of a solo break to re-charge their batteries, offering them a chance to focus on their own interests and passions for once, rather than those of their partner and children. Brands need to address this sense of guilt and use marketing to create a sense of permission or entitlement, particularly amongst women who may like the idea of some ‘me-time’ but may feel under pressure from partners not to take it.” concludes John.

*ending July 2018

**ending July 2017

*** including on my own (pure solo) and on my own but joining a group of people I didn’t know