Throwing in the towel: is the beach holiday over?


Could the beach holiday be over? According to travel company Responsible Travel, bookings for more adventurous trips are up by several hundred per cent. The company says it has seen a 700% increase in the number of people booking to swim with orcas in Norway, and a 300% increase in people wanting to go on a survival course on a desert island, which is kind of like a beach holiday, only with machetes and fire-making.

However, the idea that we’re packing in two weeks on a sun lounger is not really something that is borne out by the statistics. According to the Association of British Travel Agents travel report for 2017, 41% of holidays were the beach version, with activity holidays comprising just 7%. The beach holiday was slightly up on the year before (38%), while activity holidays had fallen from 9%.

Hot, boring and uncomfortable?

Hot, boring and uncomfortable? Photograph: Alamy

The “wellness” trend is a big part of this shift. The beach holiday has traditionally been a time to collapse for a week or two, but according the Francesca Muston, head of City by City travel guides for the trend forecasting service WGSN, “the millennial generation in particular are making wellness part of their everyday lives. They’re having that opportunity to relax and recuperate year-round.” So a more energetic, adventurous holiday is a more appealing prospect. “I think beach holidays are still popular,” says Nadejda Popova, travel project manager at market research company Euromonitor. But there has been “a fundamental shift in consumer values towards experiences. We’re seeing that travellers are looking for more adventure prospects.”

This will not be news to those of us who know the truth about beach holidays – that they’re hot, boring, uncomfortable, crowded and everyone knows you only go into the sea when you need a wee. A ski marathon in the Swiss Alps or sea kayaking in Antarctica may be billed as intrepid and challenging, but anyone who has struggled with sand in one’s crevices may suspect it’s a far less strenuous way to spend the week.



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