Trips taken in the winter half of the year (October-March) account for around a third of all overseas holidays, but they are very important for both travel companies and local destination economies, since they help to spread tourism revenues throughout the calendar.

The economic turbulence of recent years has taken a particularly heavy toll on winter breaks abroad since most people will, when forced to choose, prioritise their ‘main’ summer season holidays and sacrifice trips taken at other times of the year. However, as the UK economic cycle and consumer confidence continue to show signs of recovery, the number of winter holidays abroad has once again begun to rise over the past two years.

This report explores key market trends and opportunities, looks at leading operators and products and includes detailed consumer analysis, including who goes on winter holidays abroad and what type of holidays they go on (in comparison with holidays taken in the ‘summer’ half of the year), when consumers book their winter holidays, whether they are regular or occasional winter holiday takers, together with consumer motivations and barriers. This is the first time Mintel has reported on this market.


This report examines winter holidays abroad taken by UK adults. For the purposes of this report ‘winter holidays’ are defined as trips taken during the October-March half of the year, and ‘summer holidays’ are defined as those taken during the April-September months. Holidays must constitute at least one overnight stay.

An adult, for the purposes of Mintel’s research, is anyone aged 16 or over.

The standard travel and tourism definitions used in the terminology of this report are as follows:

  • Tourism is any travel which involves at least one overnight stay away from home.

  • A holiday is a subjectively defined form of tourism, as defined by the tourist in response to surveys such as the IPS. A holiday can be distinguished from other leisure travel such as visits to friends and relatives (VFR) or shopping trips.

  • Short haul refers to destinations within Europe. The following destinations are considered to be short haul: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus EU, Cyprus Non-EU, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Other Europe.

  • Long haul refers to destinations outside of Europe.

  • The Canaries are included as a part of the Spanish market, while Madeira and the Azores are included as part of the Portuguese market.

  • A package holiday is defined as the simultaneous sale of at least two elements of a holiday to the traveller: fares on public transport (eg flights) and commercial accommodation (eg hotel or self-catering apartment). Other elements, such as meals or excursions, are not essential to the definition of an inclusive tour. The term ‘all-inclusive’ is used to describe a special type of resort holiday in which food, drink, excursions and other services are provided as part of the total holiday cost.

  • An independent holiday is one in which the traveller organises and books transport and accommodation from separate sources (eg a Channel ferry crossing and a caravan site in France).

  • A dynamically packaged holiday or Flight-Plus holiday is a holiday in which individual components (eg flight, hotel and car hire) are put together from different suppliers, either via a high street travel agent or online travel intermediary.

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.

In addition to quantitative consumer research, Mintel also conducted an online discussion group among a demographically mixed group of around 15 consumers.

This discussion group was asynchronous (ie not run in real time), functioning like a blog or bulletin board, with questions remaining posted for a pre-determined period of time. This method allows participants to respond reflectively, at their leisure, or to log off to think about any issues raised and return later to respond. Participants were recruited from GMI’s online consumer panel.

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland.


AA Automobile Association
APD Air Passenger Duty
ATOL Air Transport Organisers’ Licensing
BA British Airways
BME Black & Minority Ethnic
CPI Consumer Price Index
GDP Gross Domestic Product
IATA International Air Transport Association
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