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From around-the-world trips to luxury get-aways, COVID-19 has kick started a spirit of adventure as, according to new research from Mintel, British holiday makers are almost twice as likely to be currently planning a holiday of a lifetime* than they were pre-pandemic. Almost one in five (17%**) UK travellers is planning to take such a holiday once the coronavirus outbreak is over, up from the 10% who were making such plans in 2019***. Spreading their wings, interest in taking a holiday of a lifetime increases to 27% of those planning to travel outside of Europe. In search of splendour, a further 18% of those thinking of taking their main holiday abroad in the next 12 months** plan to take a luxury holiday (eg staying in a 5-star hotel or having gourmet food) compared to just 10% who took a similar holiday in the 12 months to February 2020.  

Just over half (55%) of UK travellers say the coronavirus outbreak has made them consider travelling less often, but staying longer at their destination. Meanwhile, 48% of travellers who expect to work from home when the outbreak is over say they would be interested in combining holidaying with working remotely from their accommodation. 

Marloes de Vries, Associate Director, Travel at Mintel said: 

“Many consumers have managed to increase savings during the pandemic, and holidays are top of the spending priority list once travel restrictions are lifted. Although not everyone will feel comfortable using these savings, it is clear that there is an eager consumer group that wants to treat themselves and make their trip extra special. Luxury travel experiences are likely to provide a temporary boost to the market. Consumers really want to make the most out of their upcoming trips and upgrade elements of a typical holiday to make it feel more special. The impact of taking a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, however, will probably be seen over the longer term as most of these trips will be planned abroad to long-haul destinations. Confidence in international travel has been impacted, with the ‘traffic light system’ adding to the complexity, so many consumers may not feel comfortable taking the holiday they have always dreamed of in the short term.

There is a definite trend towards longer holidays, as Brits look to make the most out of their upcoming trips. Many employees will have carried over annual leave, whilst a lack of travel options in the first months of 2021 and increased savings provide consumers with more opportunities to take longer breaks later in the year. New working patterns will also see more travellers combining holidaying with working remotely, a concept that’s of interest to almost half of those who have flexibility on their working location.”

Strong pent-up demand for holidays, but holidaymakers need reassurances

Overall, almost three quarters (72%) of UK travellers say that receiving the coronavirus vaccine would make them feel comfortable returning to popular or busy holiday destinations. Nevertheless, most travellers are holding off booking their trips until restrictions are fully lifted and/or the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has reached a very low level. A quarter (26%)**** of those planning to take their main holiday***** abroad this year do not know when they will book their holiday, while 45% plan to book from June onwards. Overall, almost two in five (37%) are not planning on holidaying this year, up from 23% in the year to February 2020.  

Marloes de Vries, Associate Director, Travel at Mintel said: 

“The vaccine programme provides optimism over the medium and longer term for holidays considered less appealing due to the pandemic. River cruises and sea cruises have taken the biggest hit in confidence, with outbreaks of the virus on cruise ships and subsequent media coverage having caused reputational damage. Confidence in travel has been hit following ongoing changes to regulations which has led to many consumers adopting a wait-and-see approach; but our research indicates that there’s clearly a high level of pent-up demand for holidays which could be unleashed this summer. However, there also remains a higher level of reluctance to holiday this year, and travel companies need to continue to communicate their safety and cancellation procedures/policies.”

Mintel commissioned consumer research among 2,000 internet users aged 16+ from 18 February-2 March 2021

*Eg. a holiday they’ve always dreamt about, around-the-world trip

**As of March 2021

***In the 12 months following November 2018

****16-22 April 2021

*****Main holiday is defined as the holiday which Brits are planning to spend the most on in terms of travel and/or accommodation.