Holidays top the list of priorities for many UK consumers following a year and a half of lockdown and restrictions.
With nowhere to go and nothing to spend money on, nearly half of us have seen our cash savings increase. According to a survey by Scottish Friendly and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, many of us plan to spend a quarter of these savings in 2021. More than one-third of us plan to splash out on future overseas holidays.
Separate research – by MaruBlue on behalf of AllClear Travel Insurance – shows we’re all geared up to spend more on the quality of the resort and our transport.
Since the start of the pandemic, the freedom to travel has been a challenge for many.”
Alan Glen, Scottish travel agent
Both ClubMed and Tui report travellers spending an average of 20% more on holidays being booked in 2021.
It’s a trend being described by some as ‘revenge travel’, with UK-based Google searches for luxury hotels at their highest since 2016.
Oceania Cruises’ 2023 Around The World in 180 Days Cruise, which will take in 96 ports in 33 countries and costs from £38,059 per person, went on sale in January 2021.
It sold out within a day, demonstrating the pent-up demand for luxury international travel and people’s bullish approach to future trips. One-fifth of the 180 days’ cruise bookers also opted to extend their trip to a total of 218 days.
Premium leisure travel is seeing a resurgence, with travellers hedging their bets on restrictions easing into 2022. Independent hotels are seeing significant demand for hotel suites. It’s not just the standard of accommodation that is seeing an upgrade. Scottish travellers are also selecting more expensive airfares and extending their trips.
Alan Glen, past president and current council member of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, the professional body for travel agents in Scotland, and director of Glen Travel, isn’t surprised by the high-end appetite.
Mr Glen said: “We all love to travel and of all the things we’ve been deprived of since the start of the pandemic, the freedom to travel has been a challenge for many. We’ve struggled with the holiday hiatus, with some of us pining to get back to a destination we love and others planning the trip of a lifetime to new destinations.
“As people have been closeted at home working, educating and relaxing in one space, they’ve been longing for the opportunity to travel. At the same time, they’ve been saving money as there’s been little chance to spend. The pent-up desire married with additional savings is leading to inquiries and bookings for next year and beyond.”
According to Mr Glen, there are many Scots who take up to three holidays a year in “normal” times and have by now technically saved the value of six holidays. As restrictions lift and Covid testing improves, the holidaymakers are packed and ready to go for 2022.
Mr Glen added: “Another trend travel agents are seeing is an increase in multi-generation holidays with grandparents, parents and grandchildren all holidaying together. Florida and Disney World remain popular for Scots, but now also for extended family groups who want to have quality time together – especially if they haven’t been able to spend time together due to lockdowns.
For some, these trips are financed by the bank of grandma and grandad. But blowing the budget isn’t restricted to any one generation – for example, 62% of 18–24-year-olds say they will spend more on their next holiday.
Mr Glen said: “Whilst not everyone can consider the 180 days’ trip, cruises have a big following. Some committed cruisers go on one trip a year but there are other clients who go on up to three cruises in any given year. For travellers like these, they are seeking cruises to reward them for such a challenging couple of years and will happily upgrade, using the money they saved during lockdown.
“The cruise industry has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to introduce rigorous protocols and with the rise in vaccines and improved testing, cruising remains a great luxury option.”
In 2019, half the respondents in a Mintel survey said they believed the relaxing experience of luxury travel had a more marked effect on their health than watching their diet or staying active.
So even before Covid wellness was key for travellers, indicating that luxury is not just about “decadence”. Since then we’ve had 18 months of periods of enforced lockdowns, and the focus for many has been on encouraging and protecting wellness. Luxury holidays are shifting on the perception scale from conspicuous to conscientious.
During endless lockdown months – when we were not racking up the Zoom fatigue – many of us created our post-Covid bucket list, designed to cure us of cabin fever and indulge our wanderlust. 2022 will, another Covid wave permitting, see us all experiencing a holiday upgrade.