While INBOUND did not have access to any hard figures that might tell us whether Blue Monday (January 16th*) helped give UK holidaymakers a boost in their attitude toward travel—especially long-haul overseas travel—there were enough indices registered by the date that provided the stuff that feeds confidence and upbeat outlooks.
And even though the specter of additional damage from COVID-19 and its omicron variant still loom large over the international travel market place, one could sense in the UK trade press a positive tone—one that suggests that the worst is over. Here are some of the indicators we’ve noticed:
● Starting last Friday, France opened its borders to UK travelers. In a move that boosted morale for the tourism industry, French state minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne announced the move. “We are relaxing the entry conditions to France from the UK for vaccinated travelers,” said Lemoyne, whose official title is secretary of state at the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, adding that unvaccinated travelers must still have a “compelling reason to enter the country.” The UK travel trade was ecstatic over the announcement. France is, after all, closest to the UK of any continental European nation.
● Results from the latest survey conducted by ABTA showed that the United States has surged to number two among the list of favorite destinations registered by UK travelers, trailing only Spain, which is, in essence, a short-haul destination: Spain’s popular Costa Brava is 850 miles from London.
—Nearly one-fifth of UK holidaymakers are planning to visit the U.S. this year, ranking only behind perennial favorite Spain at 29.3 percent – illustrating how long-haul holidays are back on the agenda after nearly two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
—New York and Florida remain among the most popular destinations in the U.S. for British holidaymakers.
—There is also increased interest in other long-haul destinations this year, with both Australia (5.1 percent) and Canada (4.5 percent) increasing their ranking to eighth and ninth places, respectively, in the ABTA list of Top 10 destinations for 2022.
The Top 10 Holiday Destinations
For UK Travelers, 2022
|Country/Destination||% Who Plan to Visit||Change in Rank vs. 2021|
ABTA indicated that we’ll see more consumers using the services of a travel professional to book their breaks in 2022, with research showing people are 30 percent more likely to do so than they were before the pandemic struck.
● More people are planning to travel this year than those who actually travelled before the global pandemic 2019, according to research from Tripadvisor and Ipsos Mori. Their report, Travel in 2022: A Look Ahead, is based on a survey of more than 10,000 people in key markets – including 2,199 adults in the UK – as well as Tripadvisor search data.
In the UK:
—78 percent of respondents said that they are likely to travel for leisure in 2022, compared to 72 percent of those who said that they travelled for leisure in 2019.
—Twenty-five percent of UK travelers said it is more important now than before the pandemic to spend on a big trip.
–Overall, however, Brits are planning to spend just a bit less on 2022 travel than they did in 2019 (minus one percent).
“Travelers are quickly adapting to local public health conditions, with cleanliness and safety remaining important factors in their planning.”
—Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Brits say they plan to travel within the UK for leisure.
—Forty-eight percent are planning to travel abroad.
—More than a third of Britons (38 percent) said that travelling to a destination they’ve never been to before would be more important to them now, compared to trips they took in 2019.
—Just over a quarter 28 percent of those polled said it’s more important for them to plan an action-packed travel experience in 2022 or beyond.
About the threat posed by the COVID-19 virus and its variants, Kanika Soni, chief commercial officer at Tripadvisor, said: “Despite new variants of COVID-19, consumers across the globe still want to travel and explore. This is evident in our month-over-month search data which shows a consistent, healthy increase in page views post-Christmas.”
* The third Monday in January is a date often touted as harboring particularly low spirits in the UK, as Christmas spending, short days and cold temperatures dent British cheer. But the time is also known as an important yearly turning point in the travel industry. The idea is that the third week of January marks the point when fed up holiday-makers have had enough of the UK’s cold weather and start booking spring and summer vacations.