UK travellers made nearly 75% fewer trips abroad in 2020, figures show

·2-min read

People from the UK made nearly 75% fewer trips abroad in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, new data suggests.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Monday, show that UK residents made an estimated 23.8 million visits overseas in 2020.

This was the lowest figure since 1985 and down 74% on 2019 when there were 93.1 million visits, the ONS said.

The data also showed that travellers from the UK spent an estimated £13.8 billion on trips abroad in 2020, 78% less than the previous year.

These falls were echoed in a similar drop in the estimated number of trips to the UK by overseas residents, to 11.1 million in 2020 – 73% fewer than in 2019.

The figures also showed that overseas residents spent an estimated £6.2 billion on their visits to the UK in 2020, 78% less than the previous year.

UK residents' visits abroad
(PA Graphics)

The ONS said: “These large falls are attributable to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with travel restrictions and reluctance to travel becoming widespread.”

The ONS said its modelling based on past trends suggested that 60% of UK residents’ visits abroad were for holidays, with 14.2 million holiday trips overseas in 2020.

This is a drop of 76% compared with the 58.7 million holiday trips abroad in 2019, it added.

There was an 81% drop in visits to North America by UK residents to 1.1 million, a 74% fall in trips to Europe to 18.7 million, and a 73% decline in visits to other countries – outside Europe and North America – to 4.1 million.

ONS modelling also suggested that taking a holiday was the most popular reason for coming to the UK in 2020, with 4.4 million visits – a 74% drop compared with 2019.

Business trips and visits to friends and relatives decreased by 72% in 2020 compared with 2019 to 2.5 million and 3.4 million respectively, the ONS said.

Overseas residents visits to the UK
(PA Graphics)

Visits by North American residents fell by 78% to 1.2 million in 2020, visits by European residents dropped by 71% to 8 million, and visits by residents of “other countries” decreased by 76% to 1.9 million.

The ONS said the figures for April to December 2020 were based on “administrative sources and modelling” and should be “viewed with caution”.

It added: “The statistics have been produced to the highest quality possible, but the methods used have not been subject to full review and scrutiny.

“Also, we have made assumptions that some previous trends have continued; for example, the proportions of passengers travelling for business or holidays.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting