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ABTA director of industry relations Susan Deer: ‘Recovery and regeneration’

ABTA Director of Industry Relations Susan Deer on the future of travel

It has been a time of recovery and regeneration, says ABTA director of industry relations Susan Deer.

This year, we’ve seen a very welcome resurgence in international travel, as the steady removal of restrictions in the UK and overseas unleashed the nation’s pent-up desire for overseas breaks.

ABTA’s Holiday Habits 2022 report reveals that 45 per cent of people travelled abroad in the 12 months to August 2022, equivalent to 70 per cent of the levels reached in 2019.

People’s appetite for cruise holidays has also seen a significant rebound this year, kicked off in earnest by the lifting of the 16-month ban on international cruises in August 2021.

In the 12 months to August 2022, nine per cent of people said they went on a cruise, just shy of the 10 per cent who said they did so in 2019.

The biggest growth market over the last five years has been young families, with half (49 per cent) of this group having now been on a cruise, compared with less than a third in 2018.

Many of these families were introduced to cruise by last summer’s hugely popular domestic sailings and it’s easy to see the appeal.

In promising news for the cruise industry, families seem to be well and truly won over by their recent experiences with cruising, as almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of them say they’re interested in going on a cruise in the future – the highest of any life stage or age group.

ABTA research says holidays ‘still a priority’

Encouragingly, our latest research suggests that despite the increasing pressures on household finances, holidays remain a spending priority, with most expecting to make adjustments to their plans rather than scrap their holidays entirely.

Only 14 per cent of people say they won’t go away at all in order to meet the rising cost of living – which drops to just four per cent of those who travelled in the last year.

However, securing good value for money is set to take on increased importance for customers of all budgets, so the excellent value that cruise represents will be a key selling point.

The cruise industry’s work to be more sustainable is also taking on increased importance among consumers.

As revealed in our latest research, 38 per cent of people agree that they are conscious about the impact of cruise ships on the environment when making choices about their holidays.

It’s also important that cruise lines continue to work with destinations to help ensure that the local people and economy are benefitting when ships and their passengers visit, and they manage the impact of those visits.

ABTA has a range of resources to help members, including our new Climate Action Guidebook, which was developed with Deloitte and is free to download.

With the industry taking steps towards a sustainable future and an ever-growing market for cruise holidays, there are many reasons to be cautiously optimistic for 2023.

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