Traditionally the mass market package holiday that became popular in the 1950s was a two week affair in sunny climates like the south of France, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
A combination of a post war boom in travel abroad, and amendments to the convention on International Civil Aviation that allowed for a surge in tourism using charter planes, meant that ordinary people in the UK could afford two weeks away in the sun.
Fast forward to this year and according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) our travel habits are changing. We are travelling on shorter breaks – 10 days, and further afield.
According to Mintel, the travel and technology company, the changes are being driven by younger holiday makers who are trying to have as many breaks away as possible. They take one week generally in the summer and then two or three short breaks.
Low costs airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair, Flybe and now the major airlines who are trying to compete have been largely responsible for this change in travel patterns.
Most of these startup airlines have focused on short haul European destinations leaving the long haul market untouched. However, some companies like Norwegian Airlines, reminiscent of original low cost “no frills” carrier Laker Airways, are pushing the boundaries of log haul travel.
Travel to France has actually declined from a peak of 6.08 million travellers in 1996 to 5.56 million in 2016. Some of this fall is the result of the reduction in “booze cruises” due to the weakness of the pound and the end of duty free sales in 1999.
The destination that has increased the most is the United Arab Emirates from only 30,000 visits in 1996 to 565,000 in 2016.
1994 was the height of the popularity of the two week package holiday market with 56% of the share of total 27 million holidays.
Over a decade later, in 2004 the UK holiday market had grown by almost two thirds to 43 million holidays. Of these holidays, the package holiday had grown at a lesser rate by a third to 46% of the total market.
What’s the future for those popular holiday destinations like the south of France, Spain, Portugal and Greece? According to a Halifax insurance study, climate change may spell the end of the mediterranean package holiday with some destinations too hot and facing drought conditions.
Maybe one day the Great British summer holiday will be top of the travel pops and see millions of europeans flocking to our shores for a coller break.