All it took was a brief mention early last week when the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in announcing its “roadmap” to recovery program for the UK economy and a path toward a return to normality, noted that May 17 is the earliest date from which overseas holidays can start again. Of course, there are some approvals and reports due along the way, but “May 17th” and “holidays” in the same sentence was all that tourism industry leaders needed to hear or read.
The reaction? It was almost giddy. The following day, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays (they comprise the second largest tour operator in the country) reported a “dramatic” spike as bookings increased by 1,000 percent in the 24 hours after the announcement. Words like “explosion” were used to describe the anticipated business as Brits—the news would have you believe—are locking up every available airline seat available in hopes of a summer holiday.
A New Caution: So, now, an overseas holiday (to the U.S., of course) this year now seems plausible and probable now even as the British expect to pay more for safety, security and peace of mind. Because, for many UK travelers, “safety now trumps cost” as Brits look forward to relaxed regulations and a comfort level brought on by the increasing number of them who have received vaccinations aimed at protecting Brits from the COVID-19 virus. (At last count, March 1, more had been more than 21 million vaccinations* in the UK, which has a population of just less than 67 million.) or 27 percent of the total populate had received at least one dose of a COVID-19.)
* Source: Our World in Data
Prior to the announcement of the May 17 date, a poll conducted by the insurance firm, AllClear Travel, which said that the survey results show that the global pandemic wrought by COVID 19 has “created a seismic shift in attitude when it comes to traveling abroad.”
All of the above has come about in an atmosphere (as best as INBOUND can determine such from its perch across the pond from the United Kingdom) that is decidedly upbeat. More on that below. First, the new numbers.
1. Key findings from the survey of more than 2,000 people revealed the following:
—More than half (58 percent) of Brits believe they need to spend more than before the pandemic to ensure they are properly protected when travelling abroad.
—Of that number, 47 percent thought they would need to spend at least £50 ($70) more on travel insurance each year, with a quarter expecting to pay more than £100 ($140).
—Holidaymakers expect travel to cost more, with 71 percent expecting to pay more on the quality of a resort; 70 percent expecting to pay more on the method of travel within the holiday destination; and 68 percent anticipating that they will pay more on excursions while overseas.
—Almost seven out every ten (69 percent) Britons believing that the way they approach planning their holidays has permanently changed.
—Of those people, 38 percent agreed they were now more likely to take care in checking their travel insurance coverage, and 28 percent said they would spend more time shopping around for more comprehensive, rather than cheap, travel insurance.
—Twenty percent of those surveyed will opt for holidays that offer greater safety and reliability rather than finding the cheapest offers.
—Nearly a third (30 percent) of all travelers agreed they will now spend longer planning their holiday than they did before the outbreak of coronavirus.
Commenting on the findings, Chris Rolland, chief executive of AllClear Insurance, said: “Gone are the days of cheap holidays – COVID has changed the landscape and travelers need peace of mind … The effects of the past 12 months can already be seen on people’s attitude to risk while travelling – not just in the short term, but the long term too.”
2. Will more jabs mean more visitors? For those of us who attempt to follow such matters, that of the increasing number of the UK population that has received a vaccination to battle the COVID-19 virus is heartening. The more that people have received the vaccine, the more upbeat Brits seem about taking a holiday this year.
And now, the desire for a holiday among older UK adults now matches that among younger consumers with the vaccination program boosting confidence to travel, according to latest Mintel research. Some other points of interest from a Mintel survey follow.
—Mintel found that 69 percent of UK adults aged 55 and over now intend to take a holiday this year, the same proportion as among 16-34-year-olds. The proportion intending to take a holiday among those aged 35-54 was less—62 percent.
—Younger adults remain more likely than the 55-plus demographic to travel overseas, as 41 percent of those aged 16-34 are planning to travel abroad this year, compared with 26 percent of 35-54-year-olds and 33 percent of those aged 55 and above.
—However, when the subject is a domestic holiday, only 28 percent of 16-34-year-olds plan one, compared with 36 percent of adults 35 and over.
—Mintel travel analyst Marloes De Vries said: “Since the start of the UK’s lockdown, younger audiences have been most confident in booking holidays. However, the share of the 55-plus segment planning to take a holiday in 2021 is now equal to those aged 16-34.
—Mintel research* in January also found that 75 percent of those who describe their financial situation as ‘healthy’ plan a holiday in the UK or abroad in 2021 compared with 50 of those in ‘a more difficult situation’.
* The Mintel research was conducted among 500 UK adults on Jan 21‑26.
3. View from across the Channel also improves. Nearly a year since EU countries began various stages of pandemic confinement in their home communities, more than half of the continent wants to travel. This is what those interviewed in a survey conducted by the European Travel Commission (ETC). Specifically, 54 percent of the residents of old continental Europe intend to make a trip before the end of next July—signal that there is a strong repressed demand—And, as vaccination against the COVID-19 virus progresses, recovery will be “quick and explosive.”
The ETC study shows that interest in the sun and the beach at the forefront, has remained intact. According to the survey results, citizens of the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are the most enthusiastic about planning a getaway to coastal destinations. Some of the study’s findings include the following.
—Forty-one percent want to travel to another European country, the highest figure since ETC started doing this particular monthly survey.
—Thirty-five percent of those surveyed still prefer to travel to domestic destinations. Spain (10.2 percent), Italy (7.8 percent), France (6.5 percent), Greece (6.1 percent) and Germany (5.2 percent) are the five most popular countries to travel in the spring-summer period.
—There is growing confidence in air travel. It is gradually improving, giving hope for a speedy recovery for intra-European travel.
—The proportion of people who plan to take an airplane has progressively increased, from 49 percent in September 2020 to 54 percent in January 2021, while the percentage of those who fear flying due to the risk of contagion falls in the same period of 20 percent to 16 percent.
—As for the security measures implemented by destinations to stop the spread of COVID-19, the majority of respondents (69 percent) will feel safer and more relaxed if there are strict protocols, while only 21 percent affirm that these protocols can spoil one’s travel experience to some extent.
4. Perhaps confusing to the reader, a a YouGov conducted on February 25 showed not much difference between “before and after” government’s “roadmap to recovery.” Based on interviews with almost 5,000 Britons, the poll found the following:
There was no real increase in the proportion of UK adults who had booked a holiday abroad in the previous two weeks.
—Just over one in 10 (11 percent) said they have a holiday booked in the UK, up from 9% when YouGov asked the same question of a similar size group on February 11.
—Only 6 percent had booked an overseas holiday by February 25. When YouGov asked the same question on February 11, 7 percent said they had a holiday overseas booked.
—A one percentage-point difference is within the margin of error for such a poll. However, the proportion who said they had booked both a UK holiday and an overseas break was 3 percent in the February 25 poll compared with 2 percent on February 11.
—Four out of five of those polled February 25 (79 percent) had no holiday booked for this year—not much of a change from February 11 when 81 percent reported not having made a booking.
5. The Final Word: Last week the chief medical officer for England, Chris Whitty, said during a news conference Covid-19 is likely to be a problem for the next few winters—despite vaccination programs. “This is something that we have to see for the long term and, in my view, is likely to be a problem in particular during the winter for the next few winters,” Whitty said, adding, “I am afraid, for the foreseeable future, the coronavirus is going to be added to that list of things that those who are vulnerable, even despite vaccination, can be at risk of,” he said … We vaccinate against flu, we vaccinate against pneumococcal pneumonia and still there are cases and there are deaths.”