Plus, Other Notes from the UK
● Visit USA Association (UK) travel and tourism professionals in the UK will be forgiven today if they take time away from sales to digress and reflect upon the life of one of their own—Sarah Lax—at their first, live, face-to-face meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 global pandemic as they gather for the Visit USA Summer Affair. It is also the first such gathering since the passing six weeks ago of Lax, who died following a five-year fight with cancer.
An industry veteran of more than 35 years and purchasing manager for Virgin Holidays, Lax was active in Visit USA and had been chair of the organization for more than four years.
Interim leaders have been appointed to oversee the Visit USA Association (UK) following Lax’s death: Jonathan Sloan, executive vice president of the USA -headquartered travel marketing firm MMGY Global was elected as chair and Julie Greenhill, director at Greg Evans Consultancy, as vice chair until next March by the board of directors.
Both Sloan and Greenhill were serving as board directors of Visit USA (UK) prior to the elections. Sloan previously served as chair of the association from 2013 to 2017.
In a statement following Lax’s passing, Visit USA said: “Sarah will be greatly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of working with her. Our hearts go out to Sarah’s family, friends and colleagues and we hope that knowing how loved and respected she was by an entire industry will bring comfort to them at this very difficult and sad time.”
● In the UK, It’s Not Easy Being Green … or Becoming Green. Ever since last May 7th, when Grant Shapps, Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport, announced the three-color traffic light system to regulate the flow into and out of the UK, there is one certainty regarding its impact: Confusion has reigned.
The system looks clear enough: Countries are listed as (1.) Red, (2.) Amber or (3.) Green for the COVID-19 virus. They mean, essentially, (1.) Don’t even think of going there or coming from there to the UK. Quarantining on your return won’t be enjoyable. (2.) Still strict, but travel is possible. (3.) Fewer regulations or constraints. Good chance of going here.
Were it that simple. What has happened, according to one trade journal last week, is that there have been more than 50 changes to the traffic light plan since its inception. Public opinion surveys have shown that confusion is indeed the rule and that one of the bottom-line facts of the situation, is that a fair number of Brits have thrown their hands in the air and said to themselves, “I’ll do a staycation.” Or worse yet. “I’m not going anywhere this year.”
Yet another outcome has been the spiking phenomenon: that is, a county gets moved from amber or red to green, and there is a spike the following day in bookings or inquiries about travel to such countries. But remember, with the traffic light system, it’s possible that a green country might slip back into green or red status.
It is not just the consumer who is confused. Travel agents have been harshly critical of the situation, as the changes have left them without readily available traffic light information—no matter how quickly changes are posted. The 50 changes noted above means that there has been a traffic light change every other day since the plan was announced.
INBOUND has no solution to offer. We merely report on matters. But we can tell our friends in the UK that U.S. destinations are aching for your return.
● Unafraid and vaccinated, senior travelers treating travel for 2022 the same as before. The mature traveler segment plans on spend the same or more on holidays in the coming year but on the same number or fewer trips. This is just one of the key findings on research recently conducted by Silver Travel Advisor, a travel reviews website.
Completed in July by more than 3,000 respondents—73 percent were aged 50 to 70—the survey’s results indicated that older travelers are strongly in favor of vaccine passports.
Also from the study:
—An overwhelming 94 percent of respondents said they were double-vaccinated and 82 percent indicated that they favored the introduction of vaccine passports.
—Sixty-eight percent said they would spend as much as money as before or more on holidays in the next year. Forty-six percent of those said they would spend the same as in the past and 22 percent said they would spend more.
—However, when asked about how many trips they would take, 46 percent said that they planned the same number as in the past, while 44 percent planned fewer holidays, and just 10 percent planned more.
—The results on holiday spend comport with the study’s findings that older travelers have not been as hard-hit by the pandemic: Twenty-four percent reported they are as well off as before and 35 percent said that they were not much affected by it. Another 27 percent remain financially stable but cautious and careful in their spend.
—Forty-eight percent said they expected to take more UK trips and 38 percent said destinations in Europe, in case a quick return home was necessary.
—For travel up to the end of 2022, 55 percent of older travelers preferred hotel stays, compared with 40 percent for 2021. Twelve percent hoped to take a cruise by the end of next year, compared with 6 percent this year.
—There was a slight uptick in attitudes toward escorted tours, which interested 8 percent of respondents by the end of 2022, compared with just 3.5 percent for 2021.