The Government has recently announced that passengers entering England from dozens of countries will no longer have to quarantine as a result of “air bridges” being established, primarily with countries in Europe, parts of East Asia and Australasia. Travellers from several small island countries will also no longer have to quarantine. However, travellers leaving England could continue to face restrictions – including quarantine – when they arrive in some of these countries.
In a recent poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, a clear plurality (47%) of respondents said the introduction of “air bridges” has made them neither more nor less likely to book a holiday abroad. Notably, a quarter (25%) claimed that they are now less likely to travel abroad as a result of these “air bridges,” potentially suggesting concerns of crowding in both airplanes and destination countries. However, it is clear that a substantial portion (greater than 90%) of those respondents already had no intention of travelling abroad.
On the other hand, the travel and tourism industry will be encouraged that 19% of the public are now more likely to book a holiday abroad thanks to “air bridges,” given that they will no longer have to self-isolate for two weeks upon returning home.
Of those who do intend to book a holiday abroad, a clear majority of around 60% say they are more likely to book a holiday now that ‘air bridges’ are in place, which indicates that the new Government policy should result in an increase in foreign holiday bookings. Interestingly, a fifth of those who only intend to book a holiday in the UK say they are now more likely to book a holiday abroad, given this change in policy.
Overall, however, a majority of the public (54%) do not currently intend to book a holiday this year, regardless of the creation of “air bridges.” On the other hand, 17% intend to book a holiday abroad, and 21% intend to book a UK based holiday. 6% of all respondents intend to book holidays both abroad and in the UK.
These figures are a significant drop in the number of tourists departing the UK this year. Over a third of those polled (35%) intended to book a holiday abroad prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, however, the portion looking to book a holiday now stands at just 11%. Strikingly, more than half of those who do not plan on going on holiday this year were originally planning to book a holiday before the coronavirus pandemic.
Last minute holiday bookings are likely to be limited – of those who intend to go on holiday, only 11% plan to travel in July. By contrast, a third (33%) of those going on holiday intend to travel in August and 28% intend to go in September, indicating that the travel and tourism industry is more likely to experience a rebound during late summer and autumn—provided there are no major second lockdowns.
Although the numbers of tourists travelling this summer looks likely to decline significantly compared to a typical year, the recent establishment of “air-bridges” has made it more likely that those who currently plan to book a holiday will follow through with their intentions. A last-minute upsurge in the number of tourists in July looks unlikely, but the industry should look forward to greater numbers planning to travel in August or September, both in the UK and abroad.