How holiday destinations have changed since the 90s

What’s in and what’s out? Discover where Brits went on holiday in the 1990s and where they’re flocking to today.


Modern holidays are dramatically different to the holidays of the 90s. Last week, we looked at the most significant trends of change in holiday-making. This week we’re looking at how where we’re going has changed over the years.


In terms of Brit destinations, some places remain at the top and others have crawled to the fore over the last 20 years.


European hotspots, like Spain and Germany, remain popular today – although some have climbed up the league and others have fallen. Some non-European destinations have risen remarkably in popularity, most notably Dubai.



European hot-spots: then and now


Surprise! We still love visiting Spain and Italy as much as we did in the 90s (we’re guessing the draw of spaghetti and croissants has not diminished over the years).  However, other European countries have become less popular and still others have risen to the foreground.


While the number of holidays to Spain has rocketed by 87%, France is one of the few countries we’re visiting less than we were in the 90s (although only by 9%).


These changes may be down to budget airlines – a factor inherent in many holiday-making differences – and the fact that where France was once one of the more accessible country’s due to regular and affordable ferries with the UK, now people prefer to jump on a plane and go slightly further afield.


Germany has risen in the ranks and joined the top 10 European destinations for Brits, 4 times more popular than it was in the 90s. Could this be down to history? Who knows.


In terms of the unpopular EU members, Turkey and Belgium have found themselves dropped out of the top 10.



Non-EU countries coming to the fore


Undoubtedly, travel in general – and particularly far-flung travel – is much more accessible, and thus popular, now, than it was in the 90s. This has led to some of the more exotic global destinations dramatically increasing in popularity.


In many cases, previously leading EU countries have been ousted by non-European destinations. Back in the 90s, Hungary, Portugal, Switzerland and the like led the pack. Now, places like Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and China have overtaken.



Dubai and elsewhere


One of the country’s that has become remarkably more trendy since the 90s is Dubai. The increase in the number of Brits travelling to Dubai is striking; it is now one of the leading UK-destinations.


Let’s dissect that.


The UAE would have drawn few travellers back in the 90s, both because of its distance and the fact that it was a world-away from the place it is today. Since the 90s, Dubai has undergone a massive transformation, now offering tourists countless malls, tourist-friendly beaches and luxury hotels.


Dubai’s popularity grows by 10% each year.


Poland, Romania and Croatia are other countries that have come up the holiday-ranks since the 90s. Partly due to budget airlines, freer movement of people and changing immigration laws.


Croatia is now one of the most popular destinations for Brits, having joined the EU in 2013 and seen a dramatic rise in visitors after the ending of the Balkans War in late 1995.



Southeast Asia


It is almost a “rite-of-passage” now for Brit teens to travel to Southeast Asia. As such, many Asian countries are seeing far more tourists than they used to.


Cambodia is one of the places that has experienced the most drastic tourist turnarounds. In 1990, just 17,000 travellers visited the country, which was still dealing with the after-effects of the deadly Khmer Rouge and a devastating war with Vietnam.

Today, Cambodia is often a highlight of trips to Southeast Asia, and an increasingly popular destination in its own right. In fact, in 2016 it welcomed 5.01m overseas arrivals – an astounding 32,941% increase!


Likewise, other Asian destinations have become increasingly popular, including Vietnam and Laos.



Not-so-popular holiday destinations


The countries that have fallen the most in popularity since the 90s are largely those that have been afflicted with terror scares, war or civil unrest, such as Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Kenya.


Tunisia in particular went from enjoying a substantial amount of British tourism in 1996, to virtually no visitors at all in 2016.


Syria has gone from 8.55m tourists in 2010, to under 100,000 in recent years - perhaps even lower.




The planet has never been so “small” and tourists so all-pervasive. It’s hard to know how holiday-making and the places we’re going will change over the next couple of decades; who will be in and who will be out?


Published date: 09/10/2018