Saga Report: Senior Travellers Cruise past Brexit!

Maybe the world is still recovering from recession and maybe the pound sterling has dropped since the Brexit vote, but that doesn’t seem to bother senior travellers in the UK.

Taking a cruise in the Caribbean
Cruising the Caribbean

According to a recent Saga report, UK travellers aged over 50 are spending more than ever on holidays, both in the UK and overseas, with cruises being high on their list.

Whereas over the past five years, holiday spending by the under 50s dropped by 5%, spending by over 50s increased by 23% and totalled £39 billion in 2015, with £2 billion of that amount being spent on cruise holidays. Travellers aged over 50 now account for almost 60% of the total UK travel and tourism market.

The Chief Executive of Saga Travel, Andrew Strong, commented: “The over 50s desire for travel was not dampened during the recession and the recent vote for Brexit does not appear to have changed their yearning to experience different lands or cultures.”

The Saga report provides some interesting insights into the holiday spending patterns of the over 50s.

Overseas Holidays

Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain

European destinations are the most popular for over 55s when travelling abroad, with Spain in first place followed by France, Italy, Irish Republic, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands and Greece. The USA is the most popular long haul destination, followed by Australia, Canada and India.

Saga Travel’s Andrew Strong notes that: “Although Europe remains a firm favourite, the Saga Generations are also opting for more active and experiential holidays in the United States, the Caribbean and India and have a real thirst for exciting new destinations. For example, our escorted tours following the silk-route through Uzbekistan.”

More than 36% of employed over 50s intend to increase their spend on long haul holidays after retirement and almost 32% intend to increase their spending on cruises. Two of the most popular cruise lines for UK seniors, Saga and TUI, are both significantly increasing their capacities over the next few years.

Domestic Holidays

Day trips to historic house, Cragside
Day trips to historic houses – Cragside in Northumberland

Of course senior travellers do not only travel overseas, far from it. In 2015, the over 55s took over 40 million overnight trips within Great Britain and 447 million day trips, spending over £23 billion along the way.

Sometimes the day trips were just for a meal or for walking/cycling and exploring an area, but visitor attractions such as historic houses are also high on the list.

See Heritage on this website for some ideas for day trips in the UK.

How Holidays are Booked

The over 50s are keeping up well with modern technologies. More than half of 50-69 year olds book their holidays online. Not surprisingly, for older groups this gets much smaller, with over 90 years olds preferring to use the phone or travel agencies and less than 10% booking online.

The Future

Following the Brexit vote, the pound sterling has dropped by almost 20% against other currencies and looks likely to fall further in the coming months. What effect will this have?Maybe domestic holidays will become more popular relative to overseas holidays and cruises. We’ll have to wait and see in these turbulent post-Brexit days.

The report was compiled for Saga by CEBR (Centre for Economics & Business Research). The full report is available as a pdf file.