The people of Britain treasure their annual holidays, galivanting up and down European coastlines failing to prevent the inevitable sunburn that looms upon them like an ironic shadow. We treasure our vacations so much — research has found that we spend a quarter of our household disposable income each year on trips away. This usually equates to two getaways in 12 months.
Brits tend to go on two holidays per household (based on a family of four) per year at a cost of £3,420 each time. Now, that’s a lot of dough! Such is our love for a break that 15% of us use credit cards to fund our vacation, with nearly nine in 10 of those borrowing money saying it’s the only way they could afford it, but they weren’t prepared to miss out on the idea of jet-setting.
Usually, we are a nation who blow our budget when on holiday, too. With 68% of women and 55% of men admitting they spend more than they plan for, this typically adds £250 to the cost of your holiday. This could be down to several factors such as lack of warm weather, job stress and pressure from the children which in turns encourages more expenditure. The average Brit could potentially be waiting up to three months to pay back the money borrowed for a holiday.
This is parallel to the findings from the Office for National Statistics, where spending continued to increase in 1997 from £16,931m until 2008 to £36,838m, before dropping slightly to £31,694m, which is consistent with the decrease in the amount of Brits going abroad, dropping between 2008-2010. Since that year, both visits and spend has increased year on year, and as of 2017, we are spending £44.84bn annually.
But what does the modern traveler look like? Are more people choosing sight-seeing, food and culture holidays rather than sitting on a beach in the sun for a fortnight all inclusive? Of course, this depends on whether it is families, or younger persons going on holiday, but the transparency of the internet has allowed holidaymakers, or “travelers” as we like to be called, to open up a whole new world of holidaying experiences.
The days are slowly diminishing where we take advantage of being native speakers of a universal language, sticking to “tourist hotspots”, not necessarily straying far from the invisible boundaries of what we would consider to be a masked Great Britain. I.e. staying in hotels abroad with hundreds of other Brits, eating English food delivered by English speaking foreigners. Instead, there has been a shift, and now, with the help of reviews and quick language lessons, we choose to enter the quietly concealed doors of authentic bars, restaurants and cafes. Airbnb has gifted us with the alternative of staying in a local’s home either with or without them, opening up a natural avenue which feels a lot more like a holiday should be – experiencing and immersing oneself in foreign cultures.
The rise of social media, in particular Instagram, has influenced our tastes when it comes to how we spend our money abroad. Although not the case for everyone, but certainly the younger demographic, if it fits the aesthetic nature Instagram has lulled us into then we’ll spend our money on it. Businesses are taking this into account when it comes to presenting and promoting their businesses on the platform and beyond.
Incomings and outgoings
How do Brits fare up against visits to the UK? Well, since 1997, the number of people coming into the UK has more or less been half what are going out, starting at 25.5m and rising to 39.2m in 2017 for incomings, whereas outgoings have risen from 46m to 72m. So, even though both are continuing to rise at a steady pace year on year, it’s worth noting that there is still a significant gap between attracting tourists and being one ourselves.
Nearly 20% of all Britons going abroad end up going to Spain, while Spaniards coming to the UK only accounts for around 2.2m. in 2017, British people also made almost 6.5m trips to Portugal, Greece and Turkey accumulatively, but those tourism levels weren’t reciprocated, with only 800,000 trips being made in the other direction. The French are our biggest customers, potentially down to geographical proximity, with our English speaking neighbours coming in second.
Are we doing enough to attract greater numbers of tourists, providing revenue to our government and businesses, or do we crave more holidays than other countries? Are we a culture that lacks authenticity? Or are we open to trying more cultures than our own?