There were 71.1 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2018, a decrease of 1% since 2017, according to the annual Office for National Statistics (ONS) Travel Trends report. Using figures from the International Passenger Survey (IPS), the ONS found that although Spain is still the most visited country by UK residents, with 15.6 million of us travelling there in 2018, this figure was down 2% from 2017 — the first time the number has fallen since 2009. France, Italy, the USA and the Republic of Ireland were the other most popular destinations in 2018, and 75% of all visits in 2018 made to EU countries.
In other destination news, Turkey saw an increase from 1.2 million UK visitors in 2017 to 1.4 million in 2018, whereas visits to Australia dropped 21% from 450,000 to 360,000. Trips to Poland also declined, from 2.7 million to 2.5 million.
Furthermore, the report found the most common reason for travelling overseas in 2018 was for a holiday, rising by 1% to 47 million in 2018 compared to 2017 and accounting for 66% of total visits abroad. Despite this, overall visits abroad were down by 1% to 71.7 million with trips overseas to see family and friends falling by 2% to 11.8 million and trips for business falling by 4% to 8.4 million.
When it comes to spending, UK residents spent £45.5bn on visits overseas in 2018, up 1% on spending in 2017, but this was a much smaller increases than in previous years. UK residents also spent fewer nights away compared with 2017, which may have contributed to this.