European travel is back for summer 2022, with UK traveller volumes to ten top destinations more than tripling compared to last year. That’s according to new anonymised crowd movement data based on connections to the O2 mobile phone network in July and the first three weeks of August*.
The data shows that Brits are keen to make up for precious holiday time lost over lockdowns, with average weekly roaming volumes for the ten top European destinations up 203% in July and August (compared to the same period last year). It would appear that travel is back on the agenda for the first time in three years, with this summer’s average weekly numbers just 11% away from the pre-pandemic averages of 2019.
The anonymised, aggregated data was captured by O2 Motion** – which uses connections to O2 mobile masts to gain insight into crowd movement trends. It was collected from several European holiday destinations including Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, and Italy.
Looking at some of the most popular destinations for British tourists, the O2 Motion data shows Spain, France and Greece topping the ranking and drawing the biggest UK crowd volumes:
Sangria, siestas, and sunshine reigned supreme, with the data revealing that Spain is the most popular destination for UK visitors for the second year in a row, with traveller volumes nearly tripling to reach a weekly average of 312,400 (compared to France’s 180,000 average).
Spain saw a 174% increase in average weekly traveller numbers this summer* compared to the same period last year. However, Austria and the Netherlands showed the highest increase overall in average weekly numbers of crowds from the UK. In the weeks recorded, the two destinations recorded upswings of 464% and 379% respectively, compared with 2021.
Interestingly, Poland dropped two places down the list compared to 2021 to sixth place this year, suggesting the post-Covid recovery has been more focused on warmer holiday destinations. Nevertheless, Poland still experienced a 71% increase in average weekly traveller numbers on 2021.
The data suggests that in most European countries on the list, travel is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels; with an average 11% decrease in weekly travellers in 2022 compared to 2019. The only country bucking this trend is Greece, where the weekly average number of travellers from the UK has increased by 14% on pre-pandemic levels.
The only major network provider not to bring back EU roaming fees, Virgin Media O2 has reported an increase in the trend for ‘hybrid holidays’ this year – where people combine remote work with their time away to maximise their trips. For small business owners – like 2019 Great British Bake-Off contestant and entrepreneur Alice Fevronia, who runs small business ‘On The Cake Stand’ – staying connected while in Europe is an essential.
Commenting on the small business benefits of data roaming in Europe, Alice Fevronia said: “Managing a business can be difficult at times, not least when you know you’ll be going on holiday soon. Roaming freely means I can stay connected while exploring Europe this summer without the hassle of unexpected charges on my mobile bill.
“I’m heading to Malta for my holidays, and because I’m on a small business tariff from O2, I don’t have to worry about missing important emails or posting on socials. I can share content, keep customers updated and even place orders, all while sitting on a sun lounger by the sea! For me, the hybrid holiday is a game-changer. It’s so great to be able to experience somewhere new without my business suffering.”
Gregg Pearce, Director of SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) at Virgin Media O2, said: “From working from home to working from ‘roam’, it’s great to see travel resume this summer, and small businesses feeling empowered to work from anywhere.
“At Virgin Media O2, our decision not to reintroduce roaming fees in Europe is an important part of our efforts to upgrade the UK – and this includes giving businesses of all sizes more choice in how and where they work. From business trips to hybrid holidays and everything in between, we’re enabling our customers to roam freely, worry free, this summer.”
Earlier this year, Virgin Media O2 Business announced it will not be reintroducing roaming fees in the EU (up to 35GB).***
* O2 Motion data was captured from w/c 4th July to the end of w/c 15th August inclusive.
*** Customers on O2 Unlimited Data business tariffs will be charged if their usage exceeds 35GB in O2’s Europe Zone. For more details please see: Terms and Fair Usage Policy
About O2 Motion
O2 Motion is a service that uses anonymised and aggregated data created by the mobile phone network to offer insight into movement trends across the UK. As mobile devices connect to different masts, they create data footprints which O2 can then anonymise, aggregate and extrapolate in order to gain a picture of how people are travelling, when they make journeys and which areas they visit.
O2 Motion is based on connection data between a device and the phone mast only. It does not collect GPS data and the service isn’t used for ‘contact tracing’.