Determined Minority of British Public Aims to Travel Abroad for Holiday and to Visit Family This Year

February 23, 2021
R&WS Research Team
Coronavirus Restrictions | Health | Lifestyle and Society | Travel/Tourism
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The latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that, since January, there has been a slight decrease in the number of people intending to travel abroad this summer, and an increase in the proportion hoping to travel domestically within the UK. Whereas on 20 January the proportion intending to travel abroad this summer stood at 27%, on 17 February it fell marginally to 24%. Meanwhile, the proportion intending to travel domestically rose from 26% to 31% in the same time window. As for those who do not intend to travel at all, the proportion decreased slightly from 55% to 53%.

Among those who are not intending to travel abroad this summer, the main reason why they do not wish to travel is not wanting to undergo any travel quarantines (cited as a reason by 48%), followed by being afraid of contracting coronavirus abroad (41%) and thinking travelling abroad would not be as fun this summer (35%). These figures highlight that the Government’s decision to adopt a stricter quarantine policy in recent weeks might succeed in discouraging British residents from travelling abroad on holiday this summer even if the official ban on doing so is lifted before summer.

Interestingly, older respondents are much more desirous to avoid travel quarantines than younger respondents: whereas 51% of those aged 65 or older cited not wanting to quarantine as a reason why they will not travel abroad this summer, only 33% of those aged 18 to 24 cited this as one of their reasons.

It is important to note that 26% of those not intending to travel abroad this summer say the reason for this is that they do not normally travel abroad in the summer.

In our latest poll, we went beyond asking respondents if they plan to travel abroad on holiday this year and decided to ask them about the other two main reasons why people might travel: for work and to visit family. Our results show that 14% of respondents intend to travel abroad for work at some point this year, and 18% intend to travel abroad to visit family at some point this year.

The differences on the basis of age are stark: 32% of those aged 18 to 24 intend to travel abroad to visit family this year, compared to only 13% of those aged 65 or older. Even among the middle aged, only 15% of those aged 45 to 54 intend to visit family abroad this year. These figures suggest that many young people living in the UK are more likely to have family abroad (perhaps because they are from abroad themselves) and therefore travel restrictions have separated them from their families. Indeed, our research finds that in London—which has a much higher concentration of foreign-born people than the rest of the UK—the proportion that intends to visit family abroad this year is 37%, whereas in the South West it is only 12%.

In addition to international travel restrictions, the current lockdown rules have also meant that many British residents have not been able to visit relatives in other parts of the UK—or at least they are currently not able to. Reflecting this fact, our research shows that as many as 44% of respondents plan to travel domestically at some point this year to visit family.

Not only are younger people more likely to wish to visit family abroad this year, but younger respondents are more likely to say they intend to travel abroad for work this year (29% of those aged 18 to 24, compared to 14% overall), potentially reflecting the large number of British young people who pursue seasonal employment abroad.

Independently of their own desire to travel or not, 31% of respondents think UK residents should be allowed to go on holiday abroad this year. Interestingly, a slightly greater proportion (37%) think that UK residents will actually be allowed to go on holiday abroad this year. There is no clear political divide on this question, with 51% of 2019 Conservative voters and 49% of Labour voters saying that UK residents should not be allowed to go on holiday abroad this year.

A slightly larger proportion of the public thinks that UK residents should be allowed to travel abroad to visit family (39%) than for holiday (31%). Consistent with our results above, 48% to 52% of those aged 18 to 34 think that visits to family abroad should be allowed, compared to only 31% of those aged 65 and above.

Ultimately, despite more than a third of the general public—and nearly half of young people—thinking that the Government should allow UK residents to visit their families abroad this year, a majority (53%) think that the UK Government’s current border restrictions are not strict enough. On the other hand, 28% considers the current border measures to be appropriate, and 9% thinks they are too strict. Demographic divides manifest themselves once again: the proportion in London who think the current border measures are too strict (16%) is five times greater than the proportion in the South West (3%).

Ultimately, our research suggests that a majority of the public thinks that the UK’s current border measures are not strict enough, yet a very significant proportion of the public thinks that people should be allowed to travel abroad this year, particularly to visit family but also on holiday. A significant minority even intends to travel abroad this year, too.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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