Hopes in the travel industry that businesses could be rescued by “pent-up demand” for overseas holidays look shaky, according to a government survey of holidaymakers’ plans.
All non-essential international travel from the UK is currently illegal.
The government has made it clear that for journeys from England at least that will change from 17 May – with a “traffic light” system, in which countries are assigned to red, amber or green depending on the degree of perceived risk.
Airlines, tour operators and travel agents are pinning their hopes for summer 2021 on a surge of bookings and journeys as soon as international holidays abroad are allowed.
But a survey of over 2,200 UK adults conducted for the Department for Transport (DfT) by Ipsos Mori in late March found barely half of Britain’s international travellers are happy about going abroad this summer.
Of 1,200 people who took at least one foreign holiday in 2019, just 51 per cent “feel comfortable going on a leisure trip abroad” between June and September.
Almost as many – 46 per cent – feel uncomfortable, with just three per cent undecided.
Only one on five of the adults surveyed said they would be likely to travel abroad if they had to self-isolate at home for 10 days on arrival, though this rose from 20 to 28 per cent among 2019 holidaymakers.
The quarantine requirement will apply to arrivals from countries rated “amber” by the UK government. Initially, most nations are expected to be in this category.
Arrivals from green list countries will need to provide a negative Covid test result before departure to the UK and pre-book a PCR test to be taken shortly after arrival.
On Wednesday the aviation minister, Robert Courts, told MPs on the Transport Select Committee that the traffic light categories will not be decided before early May.
“We are giving as much notice as we can,” he said.
A survey of 1,000 British travellers by Booking.com suggests that 64 per cent will not travel internationally until they have been vaccinated. The figure rises to 76 per cent for those aged 55-plus, all of whom should have been offered at least one jab.
The latest figures from Eurocontrol indicate a decline in the number of departures and arrivals at UK airports.
On Wednesday 1,146 flights operated, a drop of 4 per cent in two weeks. In 2019, the daily average was 6,176 – over five times higher.
Also at the Transport Select Committee, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), Brian Strutton, warned: “I struggle to see how some regional airports are going to survive.”