Outbound travel to UK will exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2024

Outbound travel from the UK is picking up, indicating that travelers are planning to travel no less than before the Covid crisis. Reporting by Jenny Southan

GlobalData predicts that by 2024 there will be 86.9 million departures in the UK, surpassing the figure of 84.7 million recorded in 2019, despite economic decline in Europe. This shows a move away from the “fly less, stay longer” trend of 2021.

The latest report from GlobalData, “United Kingdom (UK) Source Tourism Insight, 2022 Update”, notes that the recovery in outbound tourism follows a weak 2020 and 2021, where declining traveler confidence and strict COVID-19 measures saw the number of outbound tourists from the UK shrink to a fraction of what that it was in 2019.

Megan Cross, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, says: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on international travel from the UK, with the number of outbound tourists registering an increase of 78.2 % year over year (year over year). ) drop from 84.7 million in 2019 to 18.5 million in 2020, before a further drop in 2021 (-11.7% year-on-year) to just 16.3 million.

“With restrictions now eased and confidence restored, projections for 2022 and beyond are much more promising. This recovery will be a big boost, as the UK is a major source market on the world stage.

With rising prices causing budgets to be reassessed, UK travelers are increasingly looking for budget options. A GlobalData survey found that 48% of UK respondents cite ‘affordability’ as the main factor in deciding where to go on holiday.

Cross continues: “Periods of high inflation will generally see greatly reduced demand for international travel. However, as multiple stories about queues at European airports show, demand is still intact.

“Many European travelers who want to keep their vacation plans can simply reduce the amount they spend on products and services before and during their trips. For example, travelers who usually stay in mid-range hotels can now turn to towards budget forms of accommodation to reduce costs.This will certainly work in favor of companies that are already targeting budget travellers.

Spain remains the number one outbound destination for British tourists due to the easy and direct travel routes between the two countries. The UK was still Spain’s largest inbound tourist demographic before the pandemic, but the scale of inbound tourism has dropped dramatically, from 18 million UK tourists in 2019, to second (3.2 million) in 2020 and third (3.5 million) in 2021, amid the start of the recovery in international travel.

With concerns and restrictions easing, the influx of British tourists anticipated by Spain will provide a welcome boost to the recovery of its tourism industry, with 18.7 million British tourists expected by 2024.

Cross concludes: “The absence of British tourists during the pandemic has had an impact on many countries, particularly in Europe. Destinations that can meet the specific needs of UK travelers will see their recovery times shortened in the years to come. »

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