5 min read22 May
Difficulties for the beleaguered international travel industry look set to continue after it was revealed that just 19 per cent of Brits plan on taking a holiday abroad this summer.
Fourteen months after the pandemic began more than half (54 per cent) surveyed exclusively for PoliticsHome said they do not intend to travel anywhere for a summer break at all, 27 per cent said they will holiday in the UK, with 12 per cent saying they intend to travel abroad, and seven per cent intend to travel both abroad and domestically.
The reluctance to go on holiday comes as the UK government has spent this week struggling to convey clear messaging on its new traffic light system for taking trips abroad.
The Liberal Democrats said the poll for PoliticsHome shows the public now just think going away is “more hassle than it’s worth” and people are “giving up on the idea of travel”.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the current system was simply “a mess” for travellers.
The travel sector has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with Ryanair taking a £710m loss in the 12 months to 31 March, German holiday giant Tui Group recording a £2.7bn annual loss in December and EasyJet losing £701m in the first half of its financial year.
The UK government allowed international travel again on May 17 and has categorised countries into a traffic light system.
However government minsters and the Prime Minister himself spent this week trying to iron out whether someone can travel to a country on the amber list on holiday after Environment Secretary George Eustice said it would be okay to visit those nations to see friends.
Boris Johnson later clarified that no-one should be going on holiday there. Those returning from an amber country must quarantine for ten days and take Covid-19 tests on day two and eight.
The polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies of 1,500 Brits also showed a significant reluctance to travel to a green list country, which includes Portugal and Gibraltar, and only requires people to quarantine if they have a positive Covid-19 test result taken on the day after they return.
Regardless of government advice however, the survey found that 84 per cent of Brits are unwilling to go on holiday to a red list country, 75 per cent do not want to holiday in an amber list country and almost half, 49 per cent, also say they are unwilling to take a break in a green list nation.
The younger age groups were more enthusiastic about going abroad this summer, with 42 per cent saying they plan on going either a foreign holiday, or a foreign holiday plus a domestic break. Only 11 per cent of the over 65s said they would go abroad.
The public is also split on the government’s traffic light system with just 44 per cent saying it is straightforward and easy to understand, while 42 per cent think it is confusing and difficult to understand. Fifteen per cent said they didn’t know. The over 65s were clearer on the rules than those in the age group 18 to 24.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Munira Wilson said: “The latest mess over the traffic light system for travel has left millions of Brits feeling like it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
“People who haven’t seen family in over a year and who are in desperate need of a break are giving up on the idea of a travelling this summer altogether.
“The government must urgently come up with a much clearer and fairer system. One that is based on the scientific evidence, gives families the certainty they deserve and doesn’t lump them with whopping bills for testing.”
This week Home Secretary Priti Patel said families should expect a “knock on the door” to make sure those who do travel to amber countries like France and Spain obey the ten-day quarantine requirement.
She said people could be fined up to £10,000 if they do not comply and government officials can visit up to 10,000 people a day to check they are inside their homes.
Thomas-Symonds said: “Conservative ministers have created an utter mess for travellers and industry with the shambolic rollout of the system. Little wonder over 40 percent of the public find the rules confusing.”
The Prime Minister’s deputy official spokesperson said: “We’ve been clear that people shouldn’t be travelling to amber list countries for the purposes of holidays, we’ve set out the exemptions that we think should be in place for if there is essential travel.”
He did not say that anyone would be fined for going on holiday to an amber list country, and there is no legal ban to travel to one of those places. The fines only relate to breaking quarantine rules.
Johnson said at Prime Minister’s Questions this week that the government was trying to move away from “endless legislation” and wants to rely on guidance for people to “do the right thing”.
“It’s very clear you should not be going to an amber list country on holiday,” he said.
A government spokesperson said: “The traffic light system cautiously balances the reopening of international travel with managing the risk of imported variants.
“This list is regularly reviewed using the most up-to-date, robust data to ensure we keep the general public safe.”
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