Coronavirus: ‘Little consumer hope of summer travel return’

Only a minority of UK consumers expect holiday travel to return to normal by July, a new study reveals.

Just 17% believe there will be a revival to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

The largest proportion (31%) do not anticipate “normalisation” until 2021 or beyond – putting travel firms at risk.

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“That is a very long time to be deprived of one of society’s vital wellness outlets,” said consumer insight consultancy BVA BDRC.

The research findings reveal that nearly two thirds of people (63%) have already cancelled or are expecting to cancel a 2020 holiday, with longer overseas holidays (34%) most likely to be cut.

“Even with the unprecedented fiscal packages on offer, operators with substantial cash reserves will have to cut back massively to weather the storm,” the holiday trends report warned.

“Sadly though, other operators may not survive until 2021.

“Coronavirus has brought the holiday industry to a standstill. Hotels are empty or transitioning to makeshift hospitals, planes are grounded, cruise liners docked.”

The research group added: “In our update we were keen to explore to what extent a ‘bounce-back’ could be expected when travel returns to normal.

“Our findings support some of those earlier predictions with an indication that cancelled longer overseas holidays and UK short breaks are more likely to be re-booked in full than other trip types.

“However, many won’t be, and the squeeze on personal finances will become even more acute in the next couple of months.

“Those hoping to revive current holiday plans in full are therefore likely to represent a shrinking audience.

“Whilst we hope measures being taken by the UK government to soften the blow bear fruit in the coming months, there are extra initiatives the domestic tourism market could take to remain relevant and connected to the British public during this time of social distancing.

“With a focus on visitor attractions but with application across the rest of the industry, we asked at the weekend what initiatives the public would find most appealing during this period of social distancing.

“There is a clear direction. Where possible the British public are seeking the provision and promotion of controlled walking routes. Some attractions have the ability to provide this but so do other providers.”

BVA BDRC director Max Clapham said: “With careful planning and imagination, online booking capabilities and very strict management, controlled walking routes can be achieved.”

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