For us, the pandemic simply isn’t over, even with the Government announcement on restrictions easing.
Only this week, our research tells us that 72 per cent of customers won’t travel overseas until they feel confident their travel plans won’t change last minute. Many are waiting to book and have ruled out an overseas holiday until next year.
The Government’s proposal to allow fully vaccinated people to travel to amber list countries without the need to self-isolate is too little too late.
This will not give them the confidence they need to travel; only 34 per cent of our customers said they would travel overseas if this change was made.
Most still say they will not.
The majority of amber countries need to be moved to the green list if we are to see real change in customer sentiment.
Even with this announcement, customers still have to navigate restrictions on UK travellers imposed by the countries they are visiting, leading to even more uncertainty, particularly when our infection rates are rising so dramatically.
While the requirement to self-isolate may be lifted for amber countries, PCR testing is still a big turn-off.
It’s not just the cost that’s an issue, it’s also the hassle of having to organise it.
Seventy two per cent of our customers said even if they are allowed to travel, the hassle of PCR testing, pre and post travel, is putting them off. The Government’s insistence on PCR testing seems nonsensical when you see thousands of people crowded into Wimbledon and Wembley, at a time when infection rates are booming, with only a negative lateral flow test required.
Clearly, such decisions have been made for the Government’s economic and political gain, whilst the travel industry suffers.
There is clearly not going to be a meaningful return to overseas travel this year.
Whilst the Government is pitching its latest announcement as a “‘vital lifeline for UK travel operators”, buying them a positive news story, they don’t understand the multiple factors in play when it comes to people deciding whether to holiday overseas and the huge damage to consumer confidence their policies have caused.
The Government needs to take responsibility for the thousands of jobs still at risk in the travel industry by supporting travel-related businesses until there is a substantial recovery in overseas travel, which our customer research clearly shows will now be 2022.
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