Sun-starved Brits want to flock back to the Med next summer, with the traditional hotspot of Spain regaining its crown as our favorite destination, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London.
A third (34%) of the 1,000 consumers polled by the WTM Industry Report said they will “definitely” holiday overseas in 2022; almost a quarter (23%) said they will “probably” do so, while a further 21% said they hope to take a break abroad next year. Another 17% said they will opt for a staycation, while just 6% said they don’t plan any sort of vacation for 2022.
The top hotspot mentioned by consumers was Spain, with others being more certain about which resort area they wanted to visit, citing Spanish islands such as Lanzarote and Majorca.
Also high on the wish list were other traditional European favorites such as France, Italy and Greece, while there was a strong showing for the USA – which has been off the map for British holidaymakers since the pandemic took hold in March 2020.
The findings will be welcomed by tourist boards which have been inspiring consumers about future travel plans throughout the pandemic and now report significant levels of pent-up demand.
More than 18 million Brits visited Spain in 2019, making it our favorite destination – but travel analytics firm ForwardKeys said numbers fell 40% this summer due to Covid travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, tourists from Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands to Spain saw growth on pre-pandemic figures and domestic tourism almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
The Spanish Tourist Office in the UK said it is “determined to put Spain front of mind for Brits looking to holiday abroad” and take advantage of the bottled-up demand.
Also looking to capitalize on potential bookings is Brand USA, which has worked closely with tour operators and travel agents in the UK during the pandemic.
The Biden administration has been working on a plan that would require nearly all foreign visitors to show proof of vaccination when travel restrictions to the US are eventually lifted.
The French tourism development agency Atout France re-joined the European Travel Commission (ETC) in September as part of its drive to attract more visitors.
France is expecting to be in the global spotlight in the coming years, as it will host the rugby union World Cup in 2023, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris during the summer of 2024.
The Italian tourist board is also hoping to attract more Brits, especially after its mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals from Britain was scrapped at the end of August.
However, destinations such as Venice are looking to recover in a more sustainable way than before the pandemic.
This summer saw Venice banning large cruise ships and there have been reports that the city plans to begin charging tourists from summer 2022 onwards.
Greece was the destination which recovered the best this summer, according to data analytics firm Cirium, which studied flights from the UK to countries across Europe.
The Greek National Tourism Organization also launched a partnership in August with budget carrier Ryanair to promote the destination.
Using the slogan ‘All you want is Greece’, the partners promoted summer breaks in the Greek islands to the UK, German and Italian markets.
WTM London takes place over the next three days (Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 November) at ExCeL – London.
Simon Press, WTM London, Exhibition Director, said: “It is heartening for the travel industry to see that more than three-quarters (78%) of consumers are definitely, probably or hopefully holidaying overseas next year.
“Brits have now faced almost two years of travel turmoil, with overseas holidays being illegal during some parts of the pandemic, so staycations soared in popularity.
“Even when overseas leisure travel was allowed again, we were beset by expensive PCR testing requirements, quarantine rules, short-notice changes to regulations and a confusing traffic light system – not to mention the myriad of rules in holiday destinations overseas.
“It shows the remarkable resilience and determination of the UK holidaymaker that so many remain keen to book an overseas holiday in 2022 – with sunny climes appearing to be even more tempting after yet another washout summer in the UK.”