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ABTA reveals findings from its Travel Trends Report 2020

ABTA has released findings from its 2020 Travel Trends Report and it highlights that despite the political context, consumer sentiment is positive when it comes to holiday- taking.

The research shows that travel is a spending priority for the year ahead, with 27% of the people planning to spend more on their holiday, up from 25% who said the same last year.

After a strong year in 2019, the package holiday also looks set to maintain its appeal in 2020 – with value for money expected to be one of the main reasons for choosing this type of holiday.

Europe still tops the list of places people intend to travel to in the next 12 months, with almost two-thirds of people (57%) planning to visit. Closer to home, following a record-breaking number of overnight trips from January to July 2019, domestic holidays are expected to perform well once more in the year ahead.

The report is based on market information and consumer insights, highlighting ABTA’s “12 destinations to watch” and revealing five key trends expected to shape holiday choices in 2020 – which include the desire for ‘slow travel’ and digital customer service.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the travel association, said: “With so many political uncertainties ahead, such as the shape of the new government and the outcome of the Brexit process, it is difficult to predict with certainty what 2020 will bring – however, we do know that travel is still a spending priority for the year ahead.

“In last year’s report, we also predicted that 2019 would be the year that sustainability issues would go mainstream and that has proved to be the case, with a spotlight thrown on climate change in particular. Sustainability issues are now firmly in the minds of holidaymakers and are a continued thread throughout the report – from cruise industry initiatives to influencing three of our five trends. The travel industry continues to develop plans and initiatives which support local communities, their economies and the environment, so that tourism is a benefit to everyone.”

The five key trends that feature in the report are:

The rise of ‘slow travel’: This is an emerging trend where holidaymakers are choosing to slow down the tempo and experience destinations on a deeper level – making more genuine connections with local people and cultures along the way. With more time in one destination, slow travel can potentially reduce the journey footprint and provide travellers with the chance to support more local businesses, helping the local economy and community.

Travel agents rising to the demand for digital customer service: Holidaymakers are seeking a variety of ways to get support during the online booking process. Many travel companies, including TUI, Hays Travel and Travel Counsellors are adopting a multi-channel approach to personalise their service for customers – including building specialist social media customer service teams, announcing multi-million-pound technology upgrades and speaking directly to them via messenger apps.

Increased focus on the specific impacts of tourism: Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impact of their holidays. And following years of rising concern over specific issues such as animal welfare and plastic, climate change has progressed further into consumers’ consciousness. There is an increased call to demonstrate the value tourism brings and the positive impacts it can have.

Touring gets the personalised treatment: Travel companies are developing new types of flexible and immersive touring products. From flexi-touring to self-guided tours to personalised escorted touring – ABTA Members are catering to different preferences to ensure widespread appeal across different types of holidaymakers. This trend also applies to tour group demographics, with Intrepid Travel’s women-only tours becoming one of its fastest-selling product ranges.

Electric aviation takes flight: The future of aviation is shifting towards electric-powered aircraft, as advancements in technology and increasing demands for more sustainable modes of travel have made the concept of commercial electric flights a very real prospect for short-haul travel. With aviation under increasing pressure to improve its carbon footprint, the future for electric aircraft looks bright, both for leisure and business travel. 

The full report is available to download from abta.com/traveltrends2020.

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