UK travel agents share interesting findings

New ABTA research shows confidence is on the up as UK travel rules lift.

As the UK’s COVID-19 travel requirements come to an end, new research from ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) reveals how people are planning to capitalise on their new-found freedoms.

The removal of covid-19 travel measures in the uk follows the steady relaxation of testing requirements since the start of the year.
The removal of COVID-19 travel measures in the UK follows the steady relaxation of testing requirements since the start of the year.

The findings show 57% of people have a holiday abroad booked for the next 12 months[i],  up from 44% in October 2021. These figures are close to levels seen before the pandemic, and it’s clear that confidence to travel is on the rise as restrictions ease.

Spain remains a firm favourite for uk holidaymakers.
Spain remains a firm favourite for UK holidaymakers.

Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey remain firm favourites for UK holidaymakers heading overseas but ABTA’s analysis of people’s travel intentions this year – compared to pre-pandemic, reveals other destinations are climbing up the popularity list.

When comparing people’s travel intentions from 2019 to this year, the number of people planning to travel to Egypt is up by 87%, followed by Malta (+51%), the United Arab Emirates (+31%), Portugal (+30%) and Mexico (+26%)[ii].

All these destinations promise sunshine, sandy beaches and a multitude of things to see and do, while also welcoming UK holidaymakers with either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a negative Covid-19 test – or no vaccination or testing requirements at all as is the case in Mexico.

The removal of COVID-19 travel measures in the UK today follows the steady relaxation of testing requirements since the start of the year, making the process of heading off abroad much easier and cheaper. Now, passengers, whether vaccinated or not, will no longer need to take any tests on return to the UK or complete a Passenger Locator Form, so holidaymakers can enjoy every last moment of their long-awaited break.

Although there has also been a relaxation of travel rules in many destinations, most still have some sort of COVID-19 entry requirements, so it is important that people check this before they travel. ABTA Members are on top of the latest COVID-19 rules and can advise customers of what they need to do.

Help with the navigating the remaining COVID-19 rules is the reason why many people are turning to travel agents and tour operators when planning and booking their holidays. ABTA data show people are now 39% more likely to book with a travel professional than before the pandemic, primarily for their guidance with COVID-19 travel requirements (47%), and broader travel expertise.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive at ABTA, says, “It is a landmark day for holidaymakers and the travel industry. From now on people can enjoy their holiday up to the last minute without having to think about any paperwork or tests on their return to the UK.

“While we’re not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, our research clearly shows that consumer confidence is returning, and things are looking up for the industry.

“We’re encouraging anyone who is thinking of booking a trip this year to speak to an ABTA Member, who will not only advise on the best destination and arrangements to suit the customer’s need but also keep the customer up to date on any changes they need to be aware of, so they can book and travel with confidence.”

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