Britain remains a nation reticent to take a holiday at all this year, nearly a month after the UK hospitality industry flung open its doors for the first time since lockdown began in March.
Our poll found that more than half our readers plan to stay at home and do nothing this summer, but those who do have plans, despite the current risks and difficulties of travelling abroad, are fractionally more likely to leave the country for a holiday than they are to have a ‘staycation’.
It was expected that there would be a boom for the UK tourism industry as soon as lockdown eased and hotels reopened, but many, it would seem, are of the all-or-nothing mindset; either unwilling to chance a getaway even on home soil, or prepared to throw caution to the wind and book a trip to the Mediterranean.
Even after Matt Hanock’s shock announcement on Saturday that Spain, the UK’s most popular European holiday destination, was off the “safe list”, nearly half the readers we polled with trips booked to the country said they planned to go anyway. More said they intended to flout quarantine laws upon their return (22 per cent) than those who will obey it (17 per cent).
Speaking after the news, our reporter Anna Nichols spoke to a number of local businesses in Majorca. Ulisses Marreiros, general manager of luxury five-star hotel La Residencia, in Deia, where not one case of the virus has been recorded, expressed his frustration at the FCO decision, but said: “We are being as flexible as possible with our cancellation policy and on a positive note, many loyal clients are still coming in spite of the restrictions.”
The fact that plenty of Britons are willing to ignore quarantine requirements is perhaps unsurprising given there is little evidence to suggest that rule-breakers are actually being penalised for failing to self-isolate upon their return from abroad. Earlier this month, it was revealed that not a single fine had been issued by police for people breaching quarantine in the four weeks after the policy was introduced on June 8.
There’s sensible logic, too, behind why people feel just as safe, if not safer, travelling abroad. The UK’s overall infection rate is many times higher than those of the countries we are currently allowed to visit restriction-free, and even the countries not on our “safe list” – among them Portugal. England’s rates are 11 times higher than the Portuguese island of Madeira, for example, making a holiday there comparatively low-risk compared to time spent here.
Still, the majority of Britons are seemingly unwilling to pack their bags at all this summer, even elsewhere in the UK; one factor perhaps being the impact of the so-called “Project Fear”.
One recent study indicates that the public vastly overestimates the number of Covid-19 casualties we have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Results published by Kekst CNC Research on Tuesday gathered insights from around Europe and showed that the average Briton believes seven per cent of our population has died from coronavirus; at least 100 times more than the official 0.06 per cent.
Visit Britain’s most recent findings suggest only 24 per cent of Britons felt confident in taking a domestic holiday in July, rising to a still lowly 34 per cent in August.
Speaking to Telegraph Travel, the CEO of HOSPA (The Hospitality Professionals Association), Jane Pendlebury, expressed surprise that while some sectors were seeing strong bookings, country house hotels are experiencing an unexpected lack of demand.
“On the face of it, they provide the perfect setting for a socially distant getaway,” she says, “with access to a wealth of outdoor activities, as well as ample parking.”
Another trend we’ve been witnessing is a tendency for luxury establishments to be faring better than budget options. Samantha Williams of Profitroom, a software company that runs online booking systems for hotels, notes: “Ordinarily, standard rooms are the first to get booked up. Post-lockdown, we’re seeing the opposite. Suites and the higher-end rooms are getting booked first, with the entry-level rooms left empty until the others are full.”
At the other end of the spectrum, with airlines and non-UK tour operators desperate to rally the market for foreign holidays, fares have been dropping through the floor in a way we’re not seeing for domestic getaways.
One reader, Chris Deakin, responded to our Twitter poll, stating: “Won’t pay the extortionate prices. Whenever there is an opportunity for our UK holiday industry to benefit and shine they ruin it by ramping up prices.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways are among the airlines now offering cut-price deals in a bid to encourage consumers to keep flying internationally.
BA is flogging seats for as little as £1 under its loyalty scheme, to destinations including Nice, Amsterdam and Vienna. Ryanair has cut its prices on one-way flights from London to Bilbao, Pisa and Valencia to £9.99 on certain dates.
What’s your view? Are you planning a holiday this summer, or staying put? Let us know in the comments box below.