A snap YouGov poll has revealed that only 11 per cent of Britons intend to holiday abroad this year. The gloomy survey results come despite the fact that the Government is due to announce quarantine exemptions for as many as 75 countries, which should pave the way for British holidaymakers to start travelling overseas again.
More than three quarters of those asked ruled out travelling abroad, while a further 12 per cent said they weren’t sure. The poll showed a regional divide, with 19 per cent of Londoners planning on a foreign holiday, but only eight per cent of Scots. When sliced by age, the results revealed that 15 per cent of those aged 18-24 want to travel overseas this year, with this figure just eight per cent for those aged over 65.
In response to the survey, tour operator association AITO said: “It is hardly surprising that so few seem to be planning an overseas holiday this year. The Government’s procrastination over air bridges, and the FCO’s travel advice, coupled with quarantine, has hardly been encouraging.
“The latest fiasco – Boris’s Dad, Stanley, arriving in Greece last night via Sofia in Bulgaria, contrary to FCO advice – sums up the disjointed nature of the Government that we are facing.
“Thousands of jobs in the travel industry are at stake because the Government has delayed four times now announcing simple steps that will mean we can start the holiday ball rolling. It’s hugely disappointing and frustrating all round.”
A spokesperson for Ryanair, however, claimed the results of the poll did not tally with its own observations.
They added: “Hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers have been flooding the Ryanair website with bookings in the last four weeks. We have seen major uplifts week on week and, once the Government scraps its ineffective and unimplementable quarantine rules, we’ll see thousands more British holidaymakers booking our cheapest fares for holidays this summer.”
Certainly, the outlook could improve once the full list of quarantine-exempt countries is revealed and Britons become more comfortable about the prospect of overseas travel. Telegraph Travel has conducted its own poll, which paints a more mixed picture on holiday intentions, with around a third planning to head abroad this year.
For those who do book a foreign holiday, the high number choosing to stay at home could mean that empty cities and quieter beaches await. Already there are signs of the decline of the previously coveted city break, due to coronavirus concerns. Emma Coulthurst, from holiday comparison website TravelSupermarket, says: “This is the time to visit European cities such as Paris, Rome and Prague; you can expect the streets to be much quieter, with many international travellers, including from the U.S, unable to travel or less likely to.”
She also notes that holidays to Madrid have fallen in price by around 35 per cent, with Rome trips 15 per cent cheaper, suggesting that travellers could secure a bargain this summer.
Flight booking website Skyscanner reports that many flights are dramatically cheaper too. It says that return flights to Gran Canaria in September can be found for £49 compared to the average price of £181. Meanwhile, a return trip to Malaga in October, which usually averages £121, can be booked for £22.
The news that few intend to travel abroad could be a boost for domestic tourism. Already there has been a huge booking surge in self-catering breaks in the UK, with record sales reported by holiday lettings agents Hoseasons and Cottages.com at the end June. Similarly, the Bespoke Hotels brand, which counts The Lugger in Cornwall and Manchester’s Hotel Gotham among its members, announced a £500,000 booking spike last week.
VisitEngland has welcomed the news that holidaymakers may reject overseas trips. Director Patricia Yates said: “We have an incredible tourism offering on our doorstep. Our countryside, coastline and seaside destinations and our B&Bs and self-catering accommodation are consistently rated as some of the best in the world.
“The industry is raring to go and has been working hard preparing to welcome visitors back safely and we hope that people who perhaps haven’t holidayed at home before will try a domestic break and some of us might explore somewhere new.”