Comment: Up-to-date data critical for travel this autumn

YouGov surveys have shown disparate responses to travel and restrictions, says head of travel and tourism Eva Satkute Stewart

Summer came and went. And with the way the weather was in the UK, I felt like it never actually came. There were days I wanted to put the heating on.

It turns out I’m not the only one – 43% of Brits say they sometimes turn the thermostat on during the summer and 2% do so frequently.

However, there’s no ‘bad’ weather as they say, and many of us had a cracking staycation at home – be it on the beaches of Cornwall, hiking in Scotland or exploring vineyards in Sussex.

According to YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles, more than 44% of Brits have decided to take their holiday at home while 30% were navigating the passenger locator forms and seeking the cheapest Covid tests to go abroad. We found that 13% were unsure about their plans and didn’t rush to book anything, and 13% decided they wouldn’t be going on holiday at all.

Whatever the weather, the favourite British summertime activity is to go on a walk, with 60% of the nation favouring this above all other activities. Exploring the great outdoors is closely followed by visiting friends and family (57%), travel (52%), shopping (49%), sightseeing (47%), attending outdoor performances (47%), and going to a bar (46%).

In autumn, we start planning more indoor activities such as going to the cinema and attending dinner parties at other peoples’ homes. However, with the Delta variant present in the UK, and rising case numbers, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many are still nervous about returning to cinemas or theatres – only 28% were fairly or very comfortable of doing so in August.

The majority of Brits (63%) think new Covid-19 restrictions are very or fairly likely to be introduced in autumn, making plans somewhat less certain. However, one change the government was planning at the time of writing will be welcomed by the travel industry and travellers alike – the amendments to the UK’s system for international travel.

YouGov ran a survey on September 10 to find out what British adults thought about it. Just over a third (33%) thought the system should remain in place, whereas 34% preferred scrapping amber and green categories, retaining red countries and all restrictions associated with governing the arrivals from those countries. Only 11% thought the traffic light system should be scrapped, and 22% were unsure.

As often is the case, we see a more significant difference in opinion among different age groups – younger generations are more supportive of scrapping the system (average of 11%), while those 65+ prefer to keep the traffic light approach in place (40%). Younger generations are keener to travel abroad in the next 12 months too.

For example, 40% of those aged 25-34 plan to take an international leisure trip, while less than one in three Brits 55+ intend to do the same (31%). A quarter of Brits over the age of 55 do not plan to travel in the next 12 months – home or abroad (24%).

As autumn approaches, and the government continues to monitor the spread of the virus, potential travellers will keep a close eye on the updates to travel.

We saw disparate responses to whether the traffic light system should remain in place and it will now be more critical than ever to have up-to-date data on consumer perceptions and their responses to the changes that were announced on Friday.

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