Travel restrictions and multiple lockdowns have freed up time and disposable income for many UK consumers to plan a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday. This will be advantageous to specialised travel intermediaries and luxury, long-haul destinations.

Restrictions on travel have given holidaymakers time to plan a dream escape

As the pandemic has cancelled planned holidays in the UK for over a year now, many travellers are eager to see the world again. A GlobalData COVID-19 recovery survey* showed 17% of UK respondents planned to browse social media more, and with social media a perfect opportunity for travel inspiration, destination choices have not been of short supply when scrolling through the likes of Instagram. Combined with increased time at home to plan a trip, many have created a ‘bucket list’ of destinations to visit when travel is permitted again.

According to a recent study of 1,000 UK residents by Compare the Market (UK price comparison website) on how COVID-19 impacted people’s ‘bucket list’, 57% of respondents created one for travel, with the reason being: ‘life is too short’, and 44% of respondents in the Generation Z audience said they created one to ‘live life to the full’. These change in attitudes will benefit long-haul destinations and the travel intermediaries that facilitate the trip.

The pandemic has also provided an opportunity for some UK travellers to save. Money saved after not taking a trip in 2020, alongside not going out to social events will have left a bigger savings pot for a more extravagant holiday in the future. According to a GlobalData COVID-19 recovery survey*, 24% of respondents from the UK were ‘not concerned’ regarding their personal financial situation after COVID-19. The lack of concern increased to 58% for respondents aged 65+ and decreased for those of a younger age. This shows that older generations may be in a better financial position to afford extravagant holidays and could be a prime target market for long-haul, luxury, post-pandemic trips. Older generations are also more likely to be vaccinated and will be able to enter countries that require a vaccine for entry.

These trips will provide benefits for luxury travel agents and destinations

‘Bucket list’ and ‘once in a lifetime’ trips come with a high price tag. As a result, travel intermediaries that specialise in luxury, long-haul trips will benefit. This will provide a much-needed cash injection after months of rock-bottom demand. Other travel agencies should take this opportunity to cater to the bucket list traveller, offering unique experiences alongside the basics of an itinerary.

Destinations that rely on long-haul, luxury travellers such as the Maldives, Mauritius and the Caribbean will profit. During ‘once in a lifetime’ trips, the ability and willingness to spend on luxury goods such as gastronomy and retail will be at an all-time high.

However, these benefits will not be immediate. A lack of appetite and consumer confidence to travel at present will encourage future bookings for 2022 and 2023 onwards. Flexibility in booking with travel agents will be key to entice travellers and to ensure investment in the trip will not be lost. Many travellers will secure a holiday with a deposit and pay the balance monthly, giving a constant stream of income for the agent. However, the benefits to the destination will not be experienced until the trip happens, meaning recovery is still a long way off for many ‘bucket list’ destinations.


*Survey taken 2-6 December of 509 participants in the UK.

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