Brits have spent £178bn on holidays in 2016

A new survey released today by Trainline reveals that, despite an economically challenging year, Europeans are still prioritising spending on travel, both at home and abroad.

The average spent across the four countries surveyed (UK, France, Germany and Italy) was £239.7 billion, with Brits spending £3,418 a head or £178 billion in total.

The Brits came in at number three with the top spot taken by the big spending Italians, who splurged a huge £5,974 per head or £308.4 billion in total. They were followed by German holidaymakers, spending £4,261 per head or £300.3 billion in total and the savviest travellers were the French, spending £3,239 per head or £171 billion in total.

Brits had the least holidays, averaging 3.1 holidays or short breaks in 2016, compared to 5.4 for the Italians, 3.8 for the Germans and 3.3 for the French.

Brits were the least interested in travelling in their own country, suggesting the staycation might be dead. One in ten Brits (10%) did not travel at all in Britain compared to less than 1% of Italians in Italy; 6% of Germans in Germany and 3% of French in France.

Instead, Brits preferred to join the majority of Europe in heading to Spain, with almost a third of all age groups saying they visited the country in the past year. All nationalities, with the exception of the Italians, chose Spain as the number one holiday destination for 2016.

A Trainline spokesperson said; “The results of our survey mirror what we see in our travel bookings. Despite economic challenges we continue to see people travelling for leisure, a clear sign that holidays and short breaks aren’t seen as a luxury we are willing to give up. That said, it is disappointing to see Brits choosing to travel farther afield for their holidays rather than enjoying what the UK has to offer. We’re lucky to have easy access to a wealth of amazing cities, beaches and countryside situated right on our doorstep – which can easily be enjoyed as a short break by train over the weekend as well as a longer holiday.”

For a significant number of leisure travellers from the UK, France and Italy, the number one reason for going away was to ‘discover somewhere new’. And it seems the French, Germans and Italians were far more interested than Brits in seeing nature and scenery, with almost half giving this as a reason for travelling, compared to just over a quarter of Brits (28%). Instead, Brits preferred to spend time relaxing on the beach (39%) and sightseeing (36%).

For European travellers, capital cities were still the main draw with London being the most visited city in the UK by British travellers, followed by Cornwall, Devon and the Lake District. For France, Paris was the most popular tourist attraction with 60% of people visiting; for Germany it was Berlin with almost half the tourists stopping by the capital (48%) and Italy it was Rome (41%). These popular destinations are quick and easy to reach by train with those travelling by rail valuing the ease, comfort, short travel time and the ability to get straight to the destination.

The most popular way for Brits and wider Europeans to travel on holiday was in a couple, followed closely by ‘with the family’. One in ten Brits (11%) chose to travel alone or in a couple. Interestingly, despite France’s romantic reputation, it was family, rather than couple holidays that came top (45% vs 35%) – the only nation where family travel was preferred to travelling a-deux.

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