June 16, 2024

Key Festive Travel Statistics

1. Only 6% of US residents (20 million people) chose to go on a Christmas vacation in 2023. Most people preferred to stay home for Christmas.
2. Over 8 million of UK residents have gone abroad this holiday season by air travel alone.
3. 57% of Nigerians travel within their country to visit their relatives during the Xmas season. For Kenyans, the figure is 64% and for South Africans, it’s 60%.
4. Over 50% of Christmas travelers stay in London for 10 days or more, and London’s popularity as a Xmas destination grew 11% from 2022.
5. Four out of ten top global vacation destinations by hotel occupancy are located in APAC – they are Phuket, Tokyo, Sydney, and Taiwan.

Holiday Travel Statistics by Region

Christmas vacation score by country
Source: Statista

First of all, how many people around the world actually choose to go on Christmas vacations and what are their main reasons for doing so? Let’s take a closer look at how this manifested across different countries and regions, as well as extrapolate key trends.

The Americas

Number of people traveling home during the 2022-2023 holiday season in the US

The song “Driving Home for Christmas” is very telling – most people who travel during Christmas in the US do so to get home. In fact, over 100 million US residents (almost 33% of the total US population) drove home for Christmas in 2023. By comparison, 7.5 million Americans flew home last year.

In contrast, only 6% of US residents (20 million people) chose to go on a Christmas vacation in 2023. Understandably, most people preferred to stay home for Christmas. By comparison, 7% of Mexico residents (approximately 8.9 million) went on vacation for a Christmas.

EMEA

Most popular UK airports for Christmas traveling in 2023

Given the freedom of movement in the EU, more people there travel for Christmas than in the US – whether it’s to see their family in another country or to go on a ski holiday.

The Christmas travel trend is particularly prevalent in the UK. Although 66% of Brits spent Christmas at home in 2023, a significant proportion of UK residents have gone abroad this holiday season – over 8 million by air travel alone, to be precise. In 2022, that figure was just 5 million.

Many of these travelers prefer to go to sunny destinations to escape the rough British winters, such as Turkey and the Canary Islands. However, some Brits love traveling to Lapland: over 40,000 British residents visited Santa’s homeland last year with just one travel agency.

Africa

Christmas traveling in Africa, 2021-2022

It seems that many residents of African countries, such as Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, go on a trip during the Christmas holidays. The majority of these trips are, however, domestic and involve visiting family.

57% of Nigerians travel within their country to visit their relatives. For Kenyans, the figure is 64%, and for South Africans, it’s 60%.

Few Africans travel abroad during the holidays. The figures for each of the aforementioned countries don’t constitute more than 10%.

APAC

Average spending per person on flights in Australi, October 2023
Source: Statista

 

Not every APAC country celebrates Christmas and New Year’s at the end of December. Despite that, the region is a popular destination for travelers around the world during the festive season.

Many countries, especially in the South East Asia, are warm and sunny all year round, making them popular among travelers from colder parts of the world.

For instance, 2023’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve bookings in APAC were 10% higher than the year before, according to Amadeus. In the next section, we examine the most popular festive period destinations in APAC and other regions.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the regional Christmas travel trends, let’s take a look at the most popular getaways of the festive season.

Destinations

Most popular Chrismast and New Year's destinations in 2023 per region

Amadeus’ 2023 report reveals the top Christmas holiday destination to be Los Cabos, Mexico. But how does it stack up against other popular festive destinations?

APAC

As we mentioned above, the Asia-Pacific region is growing in popularity for the festive season. Four out of ten top global vacation destinations by hotel occupancy are located in APAC, according to Amadeus. They are Phuket, Tokyo, Sydney, and Taiwan.

In the 2023 Christmas season, the occupancy rate in Phuket was 69%, while Sydney has seen the highest increase in popularity: it’s up 22% from 2022.

EMEA

Most popular EMEA Chrismas and New Year's destinations in 2023 by occupancy

According to RateGain, the top Christmas travel destinations for Europeans are:

  • London. The festivities in Covent Garden and the stunning Christmas light displays are big reasons for the UK capital’s popularity during the festive season. Over 50% of Christmas travelers stay in London for 10 days or more, and London’s popularity as a Xmas destination grew 11% from 2022.
  • Berlin. The popularity of the German capital during Christmas is largely thanks to the famous German Christmas markets. The majority of visitors spend 4 days or less in Berlin during the festive season.
  • Paris. The world’s most romantic city is also a popular Christmas destination. 63% of festive travelers linger there for a week or more.

However, Rome was the destination that experienced the highest increase in demand in the 2023 Christmas season – it’s up 33% from 2022.

Outside Europe, the popular EMEA Christmas travel destinations are Cape Town, which had a 71% occupancy during the 2023 festive season, and Dubai, with a 48% occupancy rate.

The Americas

As we mentioned above, a resort in Mexico was the top Christmas travel destination in 2023. Cancun was another popular destination, with an occupancy rate of 69%. In fact, the entire LATAM region’s popularity grew 4% in 2023, compared to 2022.

When it came to North America, Honolulu’s 64% occupancy took the crown as the most popular Christmas destination. Another Hawaiian location, Kahului, came second with 57%.

Accommodation

Occupancy rate in French mountain resorts, 2019-2021
Source: Statista

 

The festive season is one of the busiest times of the year for the hospitality industry, especially hotels and resorts. So, it’s no surprise that many providers look to raise prices and make the most of the season.

For instance, Airbnb hosts earned $107 million during Christmas Eve 2021 and $104 million after Boxing Day in the US alone, albeit slightly less than $112 million earned during the earlier Thanksgiving period.

It also sees a lot of New Year’s Eve travelers, an estimated 4.5 million guests around the world stayed in Airbnb accommodations on New Year’s Eve in 2021.

These figures tell us of the users’ increasing preferences for Airbnb. However, they don’t mean that people aren’t staying in traditional accommodations, quite the contrary. In 2021, the US hotel occupancy rate during the Christmas season was 47.3%, the highest figure ever recorded.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic delivered a significant hit to the hotel industry. For instance, the occupancy rate of French mountain resorts dropped from an average of 83% (2019-2020) to just 37% (2020-2021) during the Christmas season.

Transportation

Holiday travel forecast 2022
Source: Statista

As we mentioned before, driving is one of the most common ways of traveling around Christmas in the US, whether you’re going to see family in another state or trying to get some winter sun in Florida.

In 2022, the number of Christmas and New Year travelers in the US who drove reached 101.8 million, 2 million more than the year before. About 7.17 million people flew, and 3.66 million chose other methods of transport.

We delved into the statistics of festive season traveling, covering going home for Christmas and Christmas vacation preferences. As you can see, many people around the world prefer to stay home for Christmas, but a significant proportion of the population does enjoy going abroad, especially in Europe and the UK.

Marketers should, therefore, pay attention to the behaviors of that group and the key trends influencing their festive travel choices. Below, we put together some possible future Christmas and NYE travel trends worth bearing in mind.

Authentic Experiences

Travelers are increasingly choosing authentic, off-the-beaten-path adventures, and we predict that the festive season would be no exception. After all, Christmas is a time for connections, and meaningful connections are an increasingly significant priority for travelers.

Immersion in different cultures is also important, especially for families with children.

Sustainability

In an increasingly eco-conscious world and with Christmas gift choices becoming more sustainable, it’s very likely that Christmas travel choices will be impacted by the sustainability trend as well.

Travelers would be likely to choose destinations that prioritize sustainability, and the means of travel that reduce carbon footprint.

We believe that the travel industry is likely to respond to these preferences by promoting eco-friendly accommodations, transport, and activities.

Staying Connected

As we already mentioned, the holiday season is the time for connecting with loved ones. Digital transformation and advancements in telecommunications are making that possible, even if you’re far away from home.

Furthermore, increased connectivity and flexible working arrangements would allow many travelers to start enjoying an exotic destination early on in the festive season whilst working remotely, which enables savings on what would normally be expensive Christmas travel arrangements.

Shifts in Holiday Travel Statistics

As you’ve seen from this guide and our other festive guides, the Christmas season is a very important season for marketers. It signifies pivotal shifts in consumers’ behavior as they take advantage of sales and shop for presents.

The travel industry is no exception to this. Even though many people choose to stay home for Christmas, the numbers clearly show there’s a significant trend of festive travelers in every region, and their holiday choices have a significant economic impact.

Whether you stayed home this Christmas or went somewhere nice, the TechReport team hopes you had a wonderful time! Do let us know your favorite Christmas destinations in the comments.

Sources

Click to see all sources

  1. Number of year end holiday travelers forecast in the United States in 2022, by mode of transport (Statista)
  2. Number of year-end holiday travelers in the United States from 2018 to 2020, by transport type (Statista)
  3. Share of adults that plan on traveling to a vacation destination or gathering during the holidays in the United States in 2021, by holiday type (Statista)
  4. Share of citizens travelling during Christmas in Kenya as of 2022 (Statista)
  5. Share of citizens travelling during Christmas in South Africa as of 2022 (Statista)
  6. Share of citizens travelling during Christmas in Nigeria as of 2021 (Statista)
  7. Travel plans for New Year’s holidays in Russia in 2021 (Statista)
  8. Share of citizens travelling during Christmas in Nigeria as of 2021, by destination (Statista)
  9. Share of citizens travelling during Christmas in Kenya as of 2021, by destination (Statista)
  10. Share of citizens travelling during Christmas in South Africa as of 2021, by destination (Statista)
  11. Forecasted average spending per person on flights and travel during the Christmas period in Australia as at October 2023, by generation (Statista)
  12. Most popular ways to spend the Christmas holidays in Japan in 2022 (Statista)
  13. Christmas Vacations Score Low on This Year’s Wishlists (Statista)
  14. DRIVING Home for Christmas (Statista)
  15. Occupancy rate in mountain resorts in France from season 2019-2020 to season 2020-2021, by vacation period (Statista)
  16. Millions of Brits head abroad for The Great Christmas and New Year Getaway (ABTA)
  17. Five million Brits head abroad for the Great Christmas and New Year Getaway (ABTA)
  18. Jingle All the Way: Europe Christmas Travel Trends (RateGain)
  19. Thailand takes lead in Asia for Christmas and New Year’s hotspots (WiT)
  20. Most Profitable Events, Weekends, Holidays, and Times of the Year for Airbnb Hosts (Hostaway)
  21. US Hotels Set Performance Records Over Holidays (CoStar)



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