Booming ‘Sunshine Saturday’ shows holiday travel is top of consumers’ ‘to do’ list for 2023

TD Editor

Booming results from ‘Sunshine Saturday’ earlier this month shows holiday travel is firmly back on the agenda for consumers. The bounce back in travel appears to be an area that many consumers are not willing to cut back on in 2023, according to a recent survey of 1,000 consumers.

The survey, on behalf of leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM UK, found over a third (38%) of consumers are planning to take a holiday overseas in 2023, up from 30% in 2022. Families were the most likely group to travel in 2023, with 75% saying they would go on holiday this year. Whilst 2023 looks to be the year that those aged 55-64 in particular, regain their confidence and optimism to travel following the aftermath of coronavirus.

The survey found just 14% of consumers planned to cut back on short stay trips of 1-4 days over the next three months, and 10% planned to cut back on long stay holidays of five days or more. This is a stark contrast to other luxuries, such as eating and drinking out, where 40% of consumers are planning on cutting back, and takeaways and deliveries (34% cutting back).

When looking at the income of respondents, every income bracket increased their plans to take long or short stay trips overseas this year when compared to 2022. This will be good news and a welcome boost for travel operators who have faced a turbulent couple of years, showing recovery of the sector is on an upward trajectory.

However, there are clear discrepancies between the plans of high-income households and low-income households. Of those earning £60,000 or more per year, 54% are planning a long stay trip overseas in the next 12 months, which halves to 22% for those earning £20,000 or less per year. For short stay breaks overseas, 44% of high-income households plan to take a trip in the next 12 months, which quarters to 11% for low-income households.

Ian Bell, partner and head of travel and tourism at RSM UK, comments: ‘It’s clear that there is pent up demand; consumers are itching to get away and escape current doom and gloom after facing numerous Covid-related restrictions over the past couple of years; and not even the cost-of-living crisis is deterring them. Travel is at the top of consumers’ priority list, with them preferring to ditch discretionary purchases such as eating out and takeaways in order to enjoy a holiday.

‘There’s a great sense of optimism in the sector for 2023. The year has already got off to a promising start, with ‘Sunshine Saturday’ reported to be a huge success for travel companies, as consumers regain their confidence to book ahead.

‘There’s no denying that the cost-of-living crisis will be front and centre of consumers’ minds when deciding to book a holiday, so value for money will be important. In a bid to reduce costs, we’re likely to see consumers cutting the duration or frequency of their holidays, or even opting for a cheaper location where their money goes further. All-inclusive trips are likely to be particularly popular as consumers look to spread the cost of the holiday, but ultimately it will be high-end travel operators that luck out in 2023.

‘There is however a dark cloud to this silver lining for the sector in the form of strikes by border force staff. With government claiming public sector pay rises would negatively impact the recovery of inflation, it looks unlikely we’ll see a resolution to this issue anytime soon. If chaos does unfold in UK airports this could very well hinder the success and recovery of the travel sector.’

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