Brits want 'more than beaches' for 2020 as appetite for sun wanes

Hugh Morris
Holidaymakers are not looking for relaxation on their travels - BorderaS
Holidaymakers are not looking for relaxation on their travels - BorderaS

British holidaymakers are ditching sun in favour of new experiences whatever the weather, new research has shown.

As the peak booking period kicks off, with more than five million Britons expected to organise a holiday over the coming weeks, a survey of more than 4,000 adults by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) found that the habits of UK travellers are shifting.

“For British holidaymakers, travel is about more than a week in the sun,” Paul Smith, director at the CAA said. “Our varied tastes and interests are now shaping our travel behaviours more than ever before.”

The research found that 59 per cent of respondents thought “experiencing new things” was more important than relaxing by a beach or pool, and 53 per cent say hot weather is no longer top priority; 16 per cent would not return to somewhere they had been before.

The CAA said the collapse of Thomas Cook in the autumn does not look set to impact holidaymaker confidence in booking, but travellers should check to see if their trips are Atol-protected. 

Sri Lanka can offer culture, wildlife and beaches - Credit: istock
Sri Lanka can offer culture, wildlife and beaches Credit: istock

Kerry Golds, managing director of tour operator Abercrombie and Kent, said it expected a surge in January inquiries and that customers wanted “more curated, experiential travel”.

“While beach holidays are always popular, our clients are generally looking to be immersed in a destination rather than a simple fly and flop,” she said, citing Sri Lanka as a popular destination for its culture and wildlife. “For those that want the best of both worlds, there's always the twin or multi-centre, which has seen constant growth over the past 10 years – and is something we expect to continue to grow.”

The desire to post new and exciting images and updates to social media is encouraging some holidaymakers to look beyond the beaten path. But the promise of good value is also a key consideration. 

A spokesperson for Tui, Europe’s largest tour operator, said North Africa was currently popular for its prices, while Mexico was its most sought after long-haul option. 

“We’ve also seeing an emerging appetite for solo travel, particularly with the over fifties, with online searches increasing by 18 per cent last year and around 20 per cent of our programme of TUI Tours booked by solo passengers,” the spokesperson said. 

Alex Loftus, commercial director of easyJet Holidays, which launched in November, said Krakow, Budapest and Prague were proving to be its most popular city breaks as travellers looked to explore central Europe. 

A spokesperson for Abta, the Association of British Travel Agents, said that its research showed 70 per cent of Britons are due to travel abroad this year.

“For those thinking about their next getaway there are many benefits to booking early,” the spokesperson said. “There is an abundance of deals, endless options and if you book a package you only have to pay a deposit now.”

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