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Demand falls for 2020, but 2021 remains strong

The industry must wait for demand to return, research suggests. Ian Taylor reports

Demand for overseas holidays has cooled since the industry’s restart but remains strong for next year, according to consumer research.

The latest survey from consumer research firm BVA BDRC at the end of July found just 8% of 1,900-plus UK adults now intend to take an overseas holiday by the end of September, down from 14% at the start of July. One in five (21%) intend to have a holiday abroad by the end of the year. However, three in five (59%) intend to take an overseas holiday by next year.

The results are from a survey on July 28-30 almost three weeks into travel’s restart and just after UK quarantine restrictions were re-imposed on Spain on July 26.

A slightly higher proportion, 13%, intend to book a flight before the end of September and 25% plan to do so by the end of the year. But only half (50%) intend to book a flight next year, suggesting some caution about flying. Almost two-thirds (64%) were prepared to book a flight by next year in early June.

BVA BDRC reported a net decline of 13 percentage points in the proportion of travellers who would choose to fly now compared with pre-lockdown and just 6% intended to book a last-minute flight in August.

More promisingly, the average lead time for booking an overseas holiday was 5.2 months, down from 5 .9 at the start of July and the lowest since lockdown began.

The restricted demand was confirmed by a YouGov poll of more than 2,500 UK adults on July 29 that found just 9% intend holidaying abroad this year compared with 28% intending to take a holiday in the UK. The proportion likely to travel overseas was highest among Londoners at 13%.

At the same time, YouGov polling suggests limited support for relaxing travel restrictions.

Asked whether the government should permit quarantine-free travel to the Balearic and Canary Islands, 47% of 2,500 respondents said ‘no’ against 28% who thought the government should make an exception for the islands.

In a separate poll of more than 3,340 respondents, 56% were ‘unsympathetic’ towards UK holidaymakers caught in Spain by the sudden quarantine requirements and those with Spanish bookings. Only 11% were ‘very sympathetic’ and 26% ‘fairly’.

Yet another YouGov poll of 2,000 UK adults found 84% thought quarantine restrictions on Spain were ‘the right decision’. Only 8% thought it ‘wrong’ and half (51%) agreed ‘immediate action was required’.

● The YouGov surveys were carried out on July 27-29. BVA BDRC surveyed 1,913 UK adults on July 28-30.

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