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Global travellers want relaxing yet fulfilling breaks


It’s often been said that the world is divided into two kinds of people; those who like to spend their holidays seeing and doing things, and others who just want to lie on the beach. Recent global research from GfK shows that the truth is a little more complicated.

At an aggregate level among 18 major countries around the world, 58% say that they prefer a vacation where they relax and take it easy, while 36% say they prefer an active vacation where they see or do lots of things. Only 6% couldn’t decide or chose not to respond. Back in 2012, when the question was last posed, 55% chose a relaxing vacation, while 42% chose active.

The immediate conclusions here are of course that the majority of global consumers prefer to take it easy on holiday and if anything this sentiment is growing. The main implication for the travel industry appear to be that at the end of the day, the overwhelming desire of most consumers is for a holiday that is relaxing, restorative and revitalising, and this will continue to be a key requirement of their offering for many years to come.

Of course all this is not to say that the traditional package holiday with a week or two somewhere in the sun is fine as it is, and that there is no need for innovation in the travel sector. On the contrary, global consumers are becoming ever more demanding and expect to get the best of all worlds with whatever they buy, with holidays proving to be no exception.

For instance, another question we posed to global consumers shows that while 61% agree that vacation is the time for them to relax and unwind, and they want to think and do as little as possible, 67% agree that they always like to experience local culture and foods when they travel, and 63% that they are always eager to see new places and do different things. In other words, holidays should be flexible enough to offer travellers a bit of everything where and when they want it.

A further complication comes when we look at how these results play out by market. Perhaps the most important finding for the future of the global travel sector is that three key emerging markets buck the global trend and are increasingly looking for active vacations.

These are India, China and Indonesia, which together account for the best part of three billion people. As many more consumers in these markets enter the middle class and look to take vacations at home or abroad, their influence on the global travel industry will be phenomenal. Even here in the UK, almost half, 46% of respondents, said they’d prefer an active vacation, vs. 50% taking the more relaxed option.

While shorter term factors such as exchange rates and terrorism will always play an important part in the evolution of the travel sector, it is also important to consider wider and longer-term consumer trends, to help plan a sustainable future for your travel business. GfK, with its unrivalled range of proprietary, primary data on all aspects of travel and leisure, is here to help you chart that course.

Helen Roberts
Helen Roberts
Head of Travel UK