UK consumers among most keen to travel abroad, survey finds

UK consumers are among the most keen in the world to travel when the Covid-19 pandemic is over according to a survey across nine leading source markets in May.

Almost two out of three UK adults (64%) who travelled abroad last year expect to travel for leisure the same as or more than before when restrictions are lifted, compared with 58% across other source markets in Europe and 56% across major markets worldwide. Germans showed a slightly higher response at 66%.

However, two-thirds (68%) of UK travellers said they would be unlikely to travel on holiday if there are fresh Coronavirus outbreaks in Britain or abroad.

The survey by management consultancy Oliver Wyman was conducted in May among 4,600 respondents in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the US, Canada, China and Australia.

Business travellers appeared even more optimistic about future travel, with 75% of UK corporate travellers saying they expect to travel the same or more than before.

Three out of five (60%) of respondents globally said they would wait for their government to lift restrictions or the World Health Organisation to declare the pandemic’s end before travelling. The UK showed the second-highest rate (38%) who rated an end to government restrictions as most important.

However, 15% of UK respondents said they would wait to see infections declining and 12% await a Covid-19 vaccine before travelling.

UK travellers showed one of the lowest rates of intention to change their travel behaviour, with 37% saying they would be likely to change their choice of destination compared with 40% in Germany, 56% in the US and 77% in Italy.

Almost half (48%) of UK travellers said they would be comfortable staying at a hotel and almost as many (43%) flying. However, 37% of UK travellers said they would be uncomfortable taking a flight.

More than half (54%) would be uncomfortable using public transport or (56%) a taxi or Uber. Only one in five (19%) said they would be comfortable attending a trade show or convention.

Half of respondents (51%) across all markets and 49% in the UK said they expect to cruise less and 54% across all markets and 49% in the UK expect to use tour buses less.

Four out of five UK respondents (80%) identified airport health and cleaning as “significant” to their decision to fly, but 83% cited “attractive prices”.

Michael Khan, Oliver Wyman partner, noted the disparity in intention to travel between UK business and leisure travellers and said: “Leisure travellers are thinking about a holiday in July or August and it’s shrouded by uncertainty. It’s easier to think about of business travel later this year or next.”

He told Travel Weekly: “Better-established brands are in a strong position. The policies big brands are able to put in place give more comfort. We would not expect demand to return symmetrically.”


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