Brits are flying solo

July 7, 2009

Brits are ready and willing to go it alone when it comes to holiday travel, latest research from Mintel reveals. This year, as many as 5 million Brits may holiday alone and the number of solo travellers has grown by as much as 5% over the past five years. The research shows that the volume of single holidaymakers increased from 4.9 million in 2004 to 5.1 million in 2008. The surge in singles breaks has been driven by rising demand among the singles population and an increasing supply of products targeted at this group.
Although small in overall holiday terms, solo travel is already significant within certain groups. Indeed, as many as a third of all those in single person households aged under 65 have holidayed alone. More than one in eight long-haul holidays are taken alone, compared to one in 20 holidays overall. The research also reveals solo travellers make a significantly high proportion of holidaymakers travelling to Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland, Australasia, South-East Asia and Africa.
While economic slowdown over the past year has dampened growth in the solo travel sector – with many single income households particularly vulnerable to the impact of the recession – once the economy recovers momentum, the market is set to see further gradual growth. This will be supported by the shift towards singles and growing demand for special interest holidays.
” although the majority of holidays are still taken within the traditional family or couple units, as the frequency and variety of holidays have grown in recent years, people have increasingly had the means, desire and opportunity to go on holidays catering to their individual tastes. Consequently, there has been a rise in the number of Brits travelling alone and with friends or groups outside of the traditional family and couples unit,” comments Tom Rees, Senior Travel Analyst at Mintel.
“Future demographic trends have the potential to further reshape the travel industry landscape. The market potential for holidays targeted at singles is huge and is set to grow even more. Single-person households now account for just under one third of all those in the UK. Between 2007 and 2031, the singles population in England and Wales is forecast to grow by 31%, accounting for an estimated 45% of the total adult population” adds Tom.
Despite the surge in holidaying alone, single people are still far less likely to take holidays than those in a couple. Almost half of all singles did not go away at all in 2008, which compares to less than one third of non-singles.
“The singles market potential is still restricted by punitive supplements,” adds Tom. ” in the long term, hotels and resorts that choose to specialise in providing high-quality accommodation for singles have the potential to create new demand in a large and relatively ‘under-travelled’ segment of the population. “
In terms of overall holiday grouping, the most significant trend over the past five years has been the rising demand for couples holidays (40%) which have overtaken family holidays (37%) as the most popular holiday taken. A third of families have been on multi-family holidays in the past three years. A quarter of retired people still want to go on holiday with their family. Mintel expects multi-generational and grandparent/grandchild breaks to grow in the coming years.
Meanwhile it seems the ‘Shirley Valentine effect’ is well beyond the expectations of us Brits these days – just 2% of adults say they would go on holiday in search of romance.

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