Brits still uneasy about travelling, survey suggests

Ian Taylor

Barely one in 10 UK adults would ‘feel comfortable’ booking an overseas holiday to depart in the next two months and the industry may have to wait up to a year before as many consumers feel sure about travelling as don’t. That is according to a study of 1,600 UK adults by YouGov. It found 84% would not feel comfortable booking a holiday less than one month in advance and only 10% would.

The proportion ‘comfortable’

booking further in advance was barely higher at 11% for one to two months and 13% at three to four. More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) remained uncomfortable with booking five to six months out and only 17% were happy to book. Only at six-to-nine months

in advance did YouGov record a significant rise in the proportion ‘comfortable’ to book to 26%, compared with 57% who remained uncomfortable – and only at nine months to a year did the proportion


of respondents comfortable (41%) match those not (40%). YouGov UK head of data

products Amelia Brophy told Travel Weekly: “People are still reluctant to book trips abroad [and] last-minute quarantine policies and sudden spikes in cases in some countries are likely to have increased this sentiment. “People slowly become more

comfortable as the departure date extends into the future. [But] over half of Brits still find booking a holiday half a year to nine months in advance too precarious.”

The survey found 50% would be

uncomfortable visiting a hotel and 45% uncomfortable visiting a restaurant abroad. However, 50% would be comfortable on a foreign beach. Brophy said: “Many people

simply feel nervous about going to a hotel or restaurant abroad.” YouGov polled 1,652 UK adults

on August 18-19. A separate YouGov poll on September 7-8 found almost half the 1,680 UK respondents (47%) thought the government should “quarantine all passengers on all flights into Britain”.

Coach firms cater for ‘rule of six’ Juliet Dennis

Domestic tour operators are restricting booking sizes following the new ‘rule of six’ but say it is “business as usual” for now. The government reduced the

number of people allowed to meet from 30 to six in England this week due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Escorted tour operators initially

feared the change would cause chaos and prevent group tours from going ahead. Following clarification from the

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Abta this week told members that tours of up to 30 could continue, but groups must be “bubbled” into no more than six people at destinations. Arena Rail Holidays, which

has now reduced maximum booking party sizes to six, said the government’s announcement had caused it to go “back to basics” to ensure every part of its tours met guidelines. Managing director Steve

Goodenough said: “Initially this felt like yet another huge setback and threat to the UK travel industry. “We had to unpick every element

that makes up a tour – accommodation, dining arrangements, transport and access to attractions – to determine its compliance with current regulations.” He added: “Those of us involved

in UK touring have, for the time being, been able to breathe a sigh of relief that the latest tightening of rules may not have the devastating impact we first feared.”

of more than six, customers would be advised of the new rules. Trade sales manager Claire

Dutton said all hotel rooms were already limited to four. She added: “As long as our coaches and all our partners follow Covid-secure procedures, we can carry on.” Newmarket Holidays head

Coach holiday specialist National

Holidays, owned by JG Travel Group, said the announcement briefly “dampened” demand as holidaymakers sought to interpret the rules. The operator has not

limited booking size but said in cases

of trade sales Richard Forde said clarification from Abta meant it was “business as usual” for UK tours. Bookings were rarely for more than two people but would be limited to six if necessary, he added. UK self-catering operator

Hoseasons has limited its booking group sizes to six, with exemptions for those from a single household or

part of a support bubble. i Escorted Tours, page 28

17 SEPTEMBER 2020 7

PICTURE: Shutterstock

PICTURE: Shutterstock

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