Latest official figures for overseas travel in April to June highlights the “devasting” impact Covid-19 has had on the industry, according to Abta.
The Office for National Statistics revealed a 96% collapse in outbound travel to 939,000 in the second quarter of the year quarter over the same three months in 2019.
The fall, directly blamed on the pandemic, saw spending on trips abroad drop by 98% to £402 million.
The figures are based on ‘administrative sources and modelling’ as the regular International Passenger Survey was suspended in March as the pandemic hit.
The ONS said: “Using modelling to extrapolate from past trends, holidays continued to be the most common reason for UK residents’ visits abroad.
“In Quarter 2 2020, there were 617,000 holidays; this decreased by 96% when compared with a year previously.
“Visits to friends or relatives decreased by 96% to 219,000, while business visits decreased by 97% to 87,000.
“The number of visits for miscellaneous reasons decreased by 97%, although the numbers are smaller.
“There was a 97% decrease in visits to North America (43,000 visits), and visits to European countries decreased by 96% (745,000 visits). Visits to “other countries” decreased by 96% to 152,000.
“UK residents spent £402 million during visits abroad in Quarter 2 2020; this was a decrease of 98% when compared with the same period in 2019.”
An Abta spokesperson said: “Today’s ONS figures for overseas travel in April to June 2020 lay bare the devasting impact Covid-19 has had on the industry.
“While the figures relate to the first lockdown period, since then the industry has had to deal with constantly changing travel advice and quarantine measures, as well as local lockdowns, meaning there has been very limited scope for recovery in the travel industry.
“As a result tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost and many businesses have closed their doors for good.
“In addition to tailored financial support for travel companies, the government needs to implement an effective testing regime and introduce a fully regionalised travel corridor approach by the time lockdown is lifted to help people feel more confident to travel.
“It also needs to introduce flexibility into the furlough scheme to support businesses who need to have staff processing refunds, but won’t be generating income.”
The estimated 445,000 visits overseas in June was 95% down year-on-year, the ONS data shows.
“This large fall in visits overseas resulting from the coronavirus pandemic mirrors the fall in visits to the UK,” ONS said.
“UK residents spent £119 million on visits overseas in June 2020, which was 98% fewer than in June 2019.
“There were an estimated 275,000 visits overseas by UK residents in May 2020, which was 97% fewer than in May 2019. UK residents spent £147 million on visits overseas in May 2020, which was 97% fewer than in May 2019.
“There were an estimated 219,000 visits overseas by UK residents in April 2020, which was 97% fewer than in April 2019.
“UK residents spent £136 million on visits overseas in April 2020, which was 97% fewer than in April 2019.”