Seems like one step forward, two steps backward: Just when there was spark of hope that began to illuminate the near-term outlook for outbound tourism from the UK so that the tourism industry could benefit from a truncated peak holiday period this month and next, there was this late last week, as put succinctly by Travel Weekly (UK): “Officials involved in discussions over a US-UK travel corridor … suggested that it was increasingly unlikely a conclusion would be reached by the end of next month.
“Talks are now expected to be extended into August and even September, according to the Financial Times, citing a combination of the spike of the delta variant in the UK, complexities in the US political system and uncertainty over the status of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
There have been recriminations back and forth about who-did-what-to-whom to get the place we’re in now. But it makes no difference, except that—according to the surveys—more Brits than usual are giving up on the idea of a traditional summer holiday this year.
In fact, they seem to have felt that way when they spoke to pollsters in a May survey—one whose results were recently released by Travel Weekly.
Results from the survey—it was conducted by Service Science and Kantar—showed that two-thirds of UK adults report they are unlikely to take an overseas holiday this year, with barely one in six believing they will have a holiday abroad. When the same researchers asked UK consumers in late October 2020 whether they were likely to take an overseas holiday in 2021, 50 percent said it was not likely and in a pre-pandemic survey in October 2019 just 30 percent thought it unlikely.
The survey conveys a high degree of caution among consumers even before the British government announced a limited list of “green” destinations, insisted people ‘should not travel’ to amber countries and then removed Portugal from the green list of countries. (A UK “traffic light” system, includes a green, amber and red list of countries, with each color meaning different rules around testing and quarantining.)
Specific poll results showed the following:
—Two-thirds (67 percent) of adults were “unlikely to take an overseas holiday” in 2021, with more than half of respondents agreeing strongly (54 percent). One in six (17 percent) were unsure and about one sixth (16 percent) disagree. Just seven percent disagreed strongly—meaning they expect to take a holiday abroad this year.
—Two-thirds or more of adults aged 25 and above believed it unlikely they would have an overseas holiday, with only the under-25s (56 percent) thought it unlikely.
—Younger adults were more uncertain, with one out of five (22 percent) of 16-44-year-olds unsure whether they would have a holiday compared with one in 10 (12 percent) among those 55 and older.
—Older adults, aged 55 and above, were more likely to show confidence in going away with one in 10 disagreeing strongly with the idea they would not have a holiday abroad compared with one in 20 (5%) among those under 55.
—Just 13 percent of those aged 25‑54 expected to go abroad this year and only five percent thought so “strongly.”
—There was little variation in confidence by region or between parents with children at home and other adults. However, one in five parents (21 percent) appeared unsure whether they would have an overseas holiday and only one in 20 (5 percent) confident enough to disagree “strongly” with the idea they would not. An additional 8 percent disagreed “slightly.”
—In October 2020, the proportion expecting not to have a holiday also varied sharply by age, from 34 percent among younger adults (aged 25-34) and parents with children to 59 percent among adults aged 55 and above.
—By contrast, in October 2019, just one in five consumers under 35 (22 percent) anticipated not having a holiday abroad and one in four (25 percent) aged 35-44. Only above the age of 54 did a significant proportion, two in five (38 percent), not expect to have a holiday.
Staycations, day trips favored over international travel: A recent study by YouGov tells us that Only 1 in 10 Brits feel confident about an overseas holiday this year. The market research company polled more than 4,250 adults and found three-quarters were not confident about an overseas holiday, while just 8 percent already had a booking.
This sentiment was reinforced by qualitative findings from UserTesting, a provider of on-demand human insights, which gathered in-depth video evidence from 30 men and women to measure the mood of Brits towards traveling.
It revealed that most travelers are exercising caution, with 93 percent of women and 86 percent of men planning day trips, while 86 percent of women and 60 percent of men consider staycations as a preferred option.
When it comes to overseas travel, 73 percent felt moderately cautious to very cautious about overseas travel, with 33 percent of women and 40 percent of men stating that they have no plans for international travel this year.
Consumer sentiment findings conducted by Visit Britain are much the same, as the nation’s official tourism board, has also reported a surge in staycations and day trips. It found 18 percent of Brits will take more UK holidays now compared to just 12 percent in June 2020, while 31 percent said their UK holidays would be about the same, compared to 25 percent in June last year.
Visit Britain also found only 5 percent of people expect to take more overseas holidays in 2021 than they did in 2020, while 40 percent expect less overseas holidays compared to 46 percent in June last year.
When asked what would make someone cancel a trip, UserTesting respondents’ answers included the possibility of a spike in COVID, country lockdowns, and if required quarantines were put back in place. Respondents were also concerned about the possibility of potential financial impact on travel cost losses if they had to postpone or cancel trips for any of these reasons.
About the Methodology: The UserTesting survey was conducted in mid-May with 15 women and 15 men that participated in the video think-aloud survey. The participants were required to be between the ages of 25 and 50, living in the United Kingdom.