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ABTA reveals the two types of traveller emerging for 2021, among its six trends for travel


ABTA – The Travel Association has revealed six key trends that are shaping people’s travel plans for 2021, with two distinct types of traveller starting to emerge – those keen to return to familiar favourites, and those looking to indulge in bucket list trips.

Booking trends and ABTA’s research suggest that, with overseas travel being off limits for much of 2020, many will be keen to get back to destinations they know and love next year. Just 32% of people said they would be likely to visit a country they had never been to before next year, compared to 45% who said so last year.

This desire to return to familiar favourites is also clear from the overseas destinations that people plan to visit in 2021, with Spain, France, the USA, Italy and Greece making up the top five*.

Booking trends from ABTA Members point to holidaymakers heading to these tried and tested destinations too, with Turkey, the Balearics, the Canary Islands, Greece and the Algarve among the most popular spots for next summer, as well as Florida for those looking to go further afield.

Conversely, others are planning to indulge their pent-up wanderlust with a bucket list trip in 2021, having had plenty of time to dream big about their travel plans. ABTA Members are expecting trips such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking the Inca Trail and searching for the Northern Lights to be popular in 2021.

The younger generation in particular is keen to get out and explore, as new figures reveal 62% of 18-24-year-olds said they plan to spend as much or more on their holidays next year, with one in five (22%) saying this was to take the trip of a lifetime*.

ABTA’s data also reveals a recent rise in the number of people looking to book a holiday over the coming year, with 62% of people saying they hope to book a holiday abroad in the next six months, compared to 52% who said the same in August 2020**. This suggests that, slowly, a rise in consumer confidence to travel is starting to come through.

Travel experts are also expected to play an important role in helping people feel more confident to travel, with people saying they are 20% more likely to use a travel professional now than before the pandemic, with two in five citing the security of a package holiday (41%) and the travel professional’s up-to-date advice (40%) as the main reasons**. This is testament to the many agents and operators who went the extra mile to help their customers this year. ABTA Members have also responded to changing customer needs by offering additional benefits and flexibility beyond the existing protections of a package holiday.

Further trends for next year include an unwavering enthusiasm for cruise holidays, increased interest in trips embracing the great outdoors, and growing demand for responsible tourism.

 Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said:

“The severe restrictions that have been placed on international travel this year have clearly led to pent up demand, with many people hoping to get away in the coming year.

“Although there are still a number of restrictions in place for overseas travel for now, some Members are reporting spikes in enquiries and bookings for holidays next year, particularly following the positive developments around a vaccine. While these levels of bookings are far below where they would normally be at this time of year, and the travel industry still needs support throughout the pandemic, it is encouraging to see that people are starting to think about their holidays for 2021.”

Holidaymakers can book with confidence through an ABTA Member and are encouraged to check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office travel advice at where they can also sign up to receive email alerts.

ABTA’s Six Trends for Travel in 2021:

  1. Embracing old favourites
  2. Ticking off the bucket list
  3. An increasing desire for country escapes
  4. Committed cruisers
  5. The peace of mind of a package and expertise
  6. Rebuilding with sustainability at the heart.

Top 10 overseas destinations people plan to visit in 2021 are:

  1. Spain (33%)
  2. France (19%)
  3. USA (17%)
  4. Italy (16%)
  5. Greece (14%)
  6. Portugal (9%)
  7. Germany (8%)
  8. Croatia (5%)
  9. Netherlands (4%)
  10. Australia (4%)
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