UK outbound travel suffered its biggest downturn in more than three decades last year, with business travel suffering disproportionately.
The Office of National Statistics reports a 15% year-on-year fall in overseas trips to 58.6 million in 2009, down from 69 million in 2008 – the sharpest fall since the mid-1970s.
The number of corporate travel trips declined by 23%, with a 15% fall in foreign holidays and 6.5% drop in overseas visits to friends and family. However, holidays saw the largest numerical fall in trips – from 45.5 million in 2008 to 38.5 million last year. Business trips declined from 8.9 million to 6.9 million.
Overseas spending by UK residents fell by more than £5 billion to £31.7 billion and average spending per trip declined by 14% year on year.
However, the average length of stay abroad grew from 10.2 nights in 2008 to 10.5 nights last year despite major tour operators reporting a trend away from traditional 14-night holidays.
By contrast, the number of inbound holidaymakers to the UK rose by 500,000 to 11.4 million in 2009.
Overseas travel from the UK grew by an average 4% a year for 25 years up to 2007.