Industry Report: One in five have defied Government advice against holidaying abroad

Industry Report: One in five have defied Government advice against holidaying abroad

One in five people cast aside worries over Covid – and defied repeated warnings from politicians and experts to stay at home – in order to take an overseas holiday in the past year, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London.

Results from the WTM Industry Report, which polled 1,000 UK consumers, reveal 21% of Brits took a holiday of seven days or more in the 12 months to August 2021, with 4% of those having both an overseas trip AND a staycation.

A further 29% took a staycation only, while 51% did not go on holiday at all in the past year, reveals the report released at WTM London, which takes place over the next three days (Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 November) at ExCeL – London.

Those who ventured abroad for a seven-day break or longer did so despite repeated pleas from Government ministers and health advisers not to travel, amid fears Covid could spread further.

At various times in the past 18 months, travel both within and from the UK has been halted because of Covid, including during much of the first three months of 2021, when overseas travel was illegal.

Even when overseas travel was permitted, Government ministers and medical experts repeatedly urged people to forego their annual overseas holiday in order to help contain Covid.

In June 2020,  former Health Minister Helen Whately told Brits they should “look carefully” before booking foreign holidays; in January 2021, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised people to plan for a “great British summer” and the then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “too early” for Brits to book summer breaks overseas. Former Environmental Secretary George Eustice repeatedly maintained he had “no intention of travelling or going on a holiday abroad”, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in May that British holidaymakers should not go to amber-list countries except in “extreme” circumstances.

The hassle and cost of Covid tests, as well as confusion over the traffic light system – not least the risk of last-minute changes that saw holidaymakers dashing home to the UK to avoid quarantine – clearly did not put those pining for an overseas holiday off.

More people from London holidayed abroad in the last 12 months than from any other UK region, with 41% saying they had taken an overseas holiday of seven days or more and only 36% saying they hadn’t had a holiday at all.

Those least likely to have taken an overseas holiday were from the North East, with 63% of people from this region saying they had not had a holiday at all, just 13% saying they’d taken an overseas holiday and 25% saying they’d taken a staycation.

WTM London Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “The results speak for themselves – the traditional overseas summer holiday is seen by many Brits as a necessity, not a luxury, and few were prepared to give up their seven or 14 days in the sun over the past 12 months because of concerns over Covid.

“That’s despite having to take expensive Covid tests, risk traffic-light changes and go against a barrage of advice from leaders to stay at home.”



World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. In 2020, WTM Virtual facilitated 20,000+ meetings and held 42 live content sessions over the 3-days show.

Next live event: Monday 1 to 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next WTM Virtual: Monday 8 to 9 November 2021 – Virtual

Travel Forward London is the leading travel technology event, co-located with WTM London. Travel Forward is renowned for showcasing the next-generation technologies for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Over 19,000 travel officials and 150+ innovative solution providers attend for 3 days of cutting-edge insights, open debate and unrivalled networking opportunities. The combination of a 2-day conference, interactive exhibition and start-up showcase makes Travel Forward truly unique.

Next live event: Monday 1 November to Wednesday 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next Travel Forward Virtual: Monday 8 November to Tuesday 9 November 2021 – Virtual

London Travel Week, brought to you by WTM London, is the one-stop-shop for event hosts and visitors to be able to shape the next 12 months of travel together. The festival of events supports the global travel and tourism industry through capturing invaluable news and enhancing industry connections.

Next event: Friday 29 October – Friday 5 November 2021

WTM Virtualis the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform.

WTM Latin America takes place annually in São Paulo and attracts around 19,000 tourism professionals during a three-day event. The show offers qualified content, as well as networking and business opportunities. In its ninth edition – the first 100% virtual – WTM Latin America followed its focus on effective business generation and reached the milestone of 4,200 meetings held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors.

Next event: Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April 2022 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 April 2022 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with visitors from more than 140 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next in-person event: Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, Arival Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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