The UK's Year in Travel 2023 - and What's on the Cards for 2024

Travel was back with a vengeance this year. Find out how Flight Centre UK customers holidayed in 2023 - and what’s on the cards for 2024.

Canada's Year in Travel 2023 report

2min read

Published 28 November 2023


Travel was back with a vengeance this year. Find out how Flight Centre UK customers holidayed in 2023 - and what’s on the cards for 2024.

Travel was back with a vengeance this year, and we've got the proof right here. Read on for some fascinating holiday facts, nuggets, and tidbits, based on what YOU (our lovely Flight Centre UK customers) booked throughout 2023. Intrigued? You should be, dear reader, as we've also included our top insights into what’s on the cards for 2024...

1. Over a third of our customers’ holidays were to the Land Down Under.
2. One of our top travellers booked a whopping NINE trips with us in 2023.
3. The most expensive cruise booked in 2023 cost a cool £39,955 calling at Antarctica, Argentina and Brazil.
4. 4-star hotels were the most popular this year, accounting for 53% of our hotel bookings.
5. Our Experts recommend the best destinations and hot trends that will shape 2024 travel demand, including affordable luxury and alternative ways to do multi-centre holidays.

Find out more below...

Where Customers Travelled in 2023

In 2023, our travel lovers charted new territories and rediscovered old favourites. Australia was the most popular destination among our UK customers, with over a third of overall bookings to the land Down Under, followed by the United States of America (14%) and New Zealand (12%). Here are the top 10 countries we booked:

1. Australia

2. United States of America (USA) 

3, New Zealand 

4. Thailand 

5. South Africa 

6. Spain 

7. United Arab Emirates (UAE) 

8. Singapore 

9. Canada 

10. Malaysia 

Year in Travel
Year in Travel
Year in Travel

Stay what?!

Our top 10 destinations around the world based on the number of hotel bookings were: 

1. Singapore
2. Dubai, UAE
3. New York City, USA
4. Sydney, Australia
5. Bangkok, Thailand 
6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
7. Paris, France
8. Phuket, Thailand
9. Tokyo, Japan
10. Auckland, New Zealand 

Singapore's standout for international stays says a lot about the Lion City's popularity as a long-haul stopover. 

Of these hotel bookings, most people opted for 4-star or 5-star accommodation: 

1. 5-star  25% 
2. 4-star  53% 
3. 3-star  16% 
4. 2-star  4% 
5. 1-star  2% 

Up in the (complex) air

Closely mirroring many of our overall booked destinations, the top 10 routes flown in 2023 were in: 

1. USA 
2. Australia 
3. New Zealand 
4. United Kingdom 
5. Thailand 
6. South Africa 
7. Japan 
8. Canada 
9. UAE 
10. Singapore 

Year-on-year, flights to the USA increased 2.8%, with Japan (+1.6%), Singapore (+0.7%), India (+0.4%) and Indonesia (+0.4%) also up. We saw travel return to Hong Kong and China post-pandemic, too. 

wing of plane while flying over island
wing of plane while flying over island
wing of plane while flying over island

With many international travellers typically choosing to fly to one destination before flying home again, it meant just a fraction took advantage of the money you can save by opting for multi-stop flights, taking in several destinations. Top tip from our air team? Consider multi-flight itineraries in 2024. 

"Complex air" might sound like the awkward vibes you get having taken your first date to a bar, only to bump into your ex who's there with your hot personal trainer, but it's a term we travel agent types give to great value multi-stop airfares that span countries and continents. 

Round-the-world fares can be a fun-filled option for travellers with a bit more time on their hands as you can often stopover for free or throw in a side trip for great-value additions. For example, consider adding a stop in Asia or South America next time you're flying to Australia. Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Buenos Aires, and Santiago are all options that work well, according to Air Specialists Manager Andrew Stevens. 

This is cool!

The northernmost destination booked by Flight Centre customers was Longyearbyen on the Norwegian island of Svalbard. The island and its chief port are well within the Arctic Circle and feature on adventure cruise itineraries between April and September, when summer temperatures can reach as high as 7°C. 

The southernmost destination our customers visited was Ushuaia, capital of the Tierra del Fuego region in southern Argentina. Summer temperatures there reach a comparatively balmy 13°C. 

Year in Travel
Year in Travel
Year in Travel

Our best-returning customer booked nine trips with us – covering highlights ranging from Italy, France and Spain to Australia and French Polynesia – embracing our ethos to ‘open up the world for those who want to see’. 

99 passengers got onboard luxurious rail holidays, including a Best of the Rockies journey onboard Rocky Mountaineer at a whopping £16,690 and a Great Southern Rail escape travelling from Perth to Sydney which is a mega itinerary!

What goes on tour...

No matter how many guidebooks you may read, nothing quite compares to travelling with a local tour guide. Offering unique insight and local knowledge, travelling the world on a tour is a great way to scratch beyond the surface and discover parts of a destination that only the locals know about. In 2023, we sent over 1,120 travellers on incredible tours around the world. Here are some of the most compelling destinations, where we turned to local experts to show us around.

Year in Travel
Year in Travel
Year in Travel

Ship hot!

2023 was a big year for cruising with more ships to choose from. The average age of our cruise customers was 62 years, and they sure contributed to cruising's increasing popularity through 2023. Recent research by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) indicates that the volume of people booking cruises globally will exceed the pre-COVID high in 2019 by 6% in 2023 and another 14% in 2024 *. 

*Source: CLIA Passenger Data, 2019 – 2021 and CLIA Cruise Forecast /Tourism Economics (December 2022) 

Some of our sailing savants booked quite the time at sea, with the most expensive cruise coming in at a cool £39,955 – calling into Antarctica, Argentina and Brazil.  

Year in Travel
Year in Travel
Year in Travel

Top 10 destinations in 2024

Our itchy feet don’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Of course, no one knows what the future has in store, but based on booking data and travel trends we’ve seen towards the end of 2023, here are our predicted top 10 countries for 2024.  

1. Australia 
2. New Zealand 
3. Thailand 
4. USA 
5. Singapore
6. South Africa 
7. UAE 
8. Malaysia 
9. Vietnam 
10. Canada 

What's trending for 2024 travel styles?

With an ever-evolving landscape, resurgence and changes to travel styles after a COVID slump and a never-waning desire to journey beyond the horizon, one thing we know about travel is there’s never a dull moment. In addition to our destination predictions above, we’ve been talking about the hot trends shaping 2024 with those most in the know: our experts. 

Year in Travel
Year in Travel
Year in Travel

1. Luxe for less

Cost is a key part of holiday decisions, and with cost-of-living concerns travellers will be on the lookout for destinations offering the biggest savings. For a dose of affordable luxury, great-value options including Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Mexico are set to give long-haul UK travellers more bang for their buck.

Year in Travel
Year in Travel
Year in Travel

Exchange rates as at 21st November 2023 - 

Furthermore, travellers will embrace cost-effective ways to enhance their holidays. Whether it’s an airport lounge pass or cabin upgrade to get your holiday off to the best possible start, a discounted stay, a complimentary room upgrade, or a few extra meals thrown in, there are plenty of ways to live your best life without breaking the budget. Plus, with famously delicious street food in many destinations, travel-hungry trippers can treat their tastebuds to a variety of tantalising eats along the way.

2. Bounce-back breaks

You know when you love a place so much, you go back again and again? That’s right, we’ll be saying “encore” to old favourites and retracing some of our travel footprints. For some, it will be all about recapturing the nostalgia of places that shaped them, while for others, it will be about spending quality time with loved ones. We’re picking Australia to lead the way on this sentiment-led trend in 2024. As the data shows, Antipodean adventures aren’t letting up anytime soon.

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Expert tip

With airfares to Australia finally due to decrease post-pandemic, we expect increased interest in the Land Down Under.

Nikki Metcalfe

Destination Specialist


It’s a perfect opportunity for those who’ve always wanted to have that bucket-list Aussie holiday, or even pair a visit to loved ones with curated add-on experiences.

3. Wild card wanderlust

We’re seeing a rising demand for the raw, with emphasis on appreciating authentic local culture, landscapes and wildlife in what our experts are calling “wild card wanderlust”. Destinations leading the charge according to our experts include Komodo Islands, Costa Rica, Jordan and Kenya.  


Indeed, our group tour booking trends this year showed an uptick on Costa Rica and Jordan departures – which isn’t to say you can’t travel solo, with a significant other or even pair with a traditionally popular place. For example, our expert Stuart Wakefield recommends taking a few nights out of a trip to Bali to visit the iconic Komodo Islands.  



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Expert tip

It’s just a short flight from Bali and most hotels are just 10-15 minutes from the airport in Flores. This is your gateway to these incredible islands that are made famous by the iconic Komodo Dragons. However, these are not the only residents. You will find an abundance of marine life including sharks and turtles. Make sure you visit Pink Beach. You will not be disappointed.

Stuart Wakefield

Destination Specialist


We think that's got all the trimmings for a wow-inducing holiday!

4. Treat yo'self travels

For those fond of the finer things in life, a tailor-made holiday with all the trimmings is high on the 2024 travel agenda – and no request is too grand. Whether you want to check into your own overwater suite and sink your feet into barefoot-ready beaches in the Maldives or indulge in the opulence of state-of-the-art hotels in Dubai, there’s a world of uber-exclusive holiday experiences to ensure your five-star getaway is one to remember. 

Two people on stand-up paddleboards on a clear ocean, with rows of bungalows in the background
Two people on stand-up paddleboards on a clear ocean, with rows of bungalows in the background
Two people on stand-up paddleboards on a clear ocean, with rows of bungalows in the background

Plus, with new luxe hotels on the horizon – including just-opened Secrets Tulum Beach Club, and One&Only Moonlight Basin, Montana – it’s shaping up to be a year to treat yo’self. 

5. Multi-centre moments

Our experts predict we’ll be embracing more alternative ways to have multi-centre holidays. Here are three highlights on the radar: 

5.1 Canada rail holidays

Always wanted to experience Canada’s cities, landscapes and sights? Our experts say get onboard world-famous trains such as Rocky Mountaineer and explore heritage routes that take in rare wildlife, imposing peaks and sprawling forests. After all, Canada is one of the most stunningly beautiful countries on Earth, with a uniquely visual experience to offer visitors.

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Expert tip

If you want a mesmerising journey with impeccable world-class service, Rocky Mountaineer is the trip for you. Carriages feature oversized dome-shaped windows, so you won’t miss a moment of the ever-changing landscapes! The staff are absolutely amazing with their engaging storytelling and commentary throughout, pointing things out to you on the route and delving deep into the area’s history. It's a truly unforgettable experience.

Jo Mackenzie & Caroline Pepper

Travel Consultants


5.2 River cruising

While European rivers like the Rhine, Danube and Douro remain popular, we’re seeing surging interest in the Exotics ranges that river cruise companies are coming out with in 2024, including AmaWaterways’ Colombia and Africa itineraries and Uniworld’s Peru and Brazil sailings – not to mention their 55-day Rivers of the World odyssey for those looking for longer, farther-reaching itineraries. 

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Expert tip

If you’ve never done a cruise before, I highly recommend a river cruise as the way to enter the world of cruising! A much smaller ship with 100-150 people, you can get right into cities, and experience some towns that perhaps you wouldn’t consider normally.

Kelly Darke

Travel Consultant


Many river cruise lines offer all-inclusive experiences, with gourmet dining, drinks and daily excursions, often fully escorted by English-speaking guides. Now that’s a winning adventure. Make 2024 the year you give river cruising a try if you haven’t considered it yet. 

5.3 Cycling Vietnam

For active travellers, a cycling tour across vibrant Vietnam is the perfect opportunity to get moving and meet locals while experiencing culture in an invigorating way. If you’ve always fancied winding down country lanes, discovering wildlife-filled natural landscapes, characterful villages and lively cities, a two-wheeled adventure could be just the one. And, of course, all that exercise works up a delicious excuse to indulge in Vietnamese cuisine. 

So, there you have it! Ready to seek out new adventures? Head to our Deals page for our latest offers. 


This report is based on the internal booking data we had available to us and covers a period between 10 October 2022 and 9 October 2023. We’re confident in the quality of our data and every effort has been made to ensure and preserve its accuracy.

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