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Britain’s holiday industry is set for a bumper summer as latest research from Mintel reveals that domestic holiday sales this summer are expected to reach a 10-year high. From crabbing and ice creams to fish and chips and village pubs, the nation’s holidaymakers are set to spend an estimated £7.1 billion holidaying at home this summer* – an impressive 22% increase from 2019 when Brits spent £5.8 billion**

Although the total value of domestic holidays taken by Brits during the whole of 2021 (£12.9 billion) is forecast to be 11% short of pre-COVID-19 levels (£14.5 billion in 2019**), Mintel expects the domestic market to fully recover by 2022, when it will reach an estimated £15 billion.

Vaccine roll out helps boost confidence in travel

Despite limited travel options, the vast majority (83%) of UK travellers would like to return to their typical holiday behaviour once the threat of COVID-19 has fully subsided; agreement peaks among the over-65s (91%). Meanwhile, the vaccine programme looks likely to have helped increase booking confidence, as 22% of UK adults were planning to book a holiday in the three months following December 2020, up from 18% one month earlier (November 2020).

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

“Demand for staycations during the summer period is expected to exceed pre-COVID-19 levels and could well reach a new 10-year record due to pent-up demand following disrupted travel plans. The UK holiday market will continue to benefit from cautious and price-sensitive consumers who will opt to stay closer to home. The introduction of quarantine hotels and compulsory testing for all arrivals adds another layer of uncertainty in what would normally be an important booking period. As a result, more travellers will choose to book a staycation.

“Despite the uncertainties around travelling, underlying demand for holidays remains strong and brands can expect a surge in bookings once travel restrictions are lifted. We have already seen the impact of the vaccination programme on booking intentions as our research highlights an increase in confidence in booking holidays between November and December 2020. Furthermore, there has been a marked increase in booking intentions among the over 65s – a population that is growing in number, financially confident and will be among the first to have been vaccinated. The fourth quarter of 2021 has potential to exceed pre-COVID-19 levels too, provided the virus can be kept under control.”

Brits set to flock to the countryside

In search of breathtaking landscapes, peace and quiet, British rural and countryside holidays have seen the greatest rise in popularity since the outset of the pandemic. A quarter (25%) of domestic holiday makers took a rural or countryside holiday in 2019***; while over a third (34%) of those who are planning to take a staycation in the 12 months following October 2020 are interested in taking one.  Meanwhile, the number of Brits planning on taking a UK summer beach holiday has remained virtually static at 26% in 2019 compared to 27% in 2020. 

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

Our research reveals a growing interest in visiting rural areas in the UK and while city breaks remain the most popular domestic holiday, the desire to escape the crowds has dampened interest in these types of holidays. Interest in cultural/historical sightseeing holidays within the UK is growing too, up from 14% in 2019 to 21% in 2020. Limited options to travel overseas is likely to have helped boost Brits’ desire to explore sights closer to home or to discover what’s on their own doorstep. These areas of growth provide opportunities to combine nature-based holidays with culture, for example, by developing and/or promoting walking and cycling trails or self-drive routes.”

*Q3 July – September 2021

** GBTS by VisitEngland, VisitScotland, Visit Wales 

*** December 2018 – November 2019

Mintel commissioned consumer research among 2,000 internet users aged 16+ between 8-19 October 2020.