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Comment: Brits taking ‘wait-and-see’ approach to travel

YouGov’s Eva Satkute Stewart looks at how UK consumer sentiment is responding to Omicron concerns

In the run-up to Christmas and the end of the year, the surge in Covid-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant cast a pall on consumers’ plans for festive travel.

YouGov has been tracking perceptions around Omicron and found that, even at the end of November, 70% of British adults indicated they were following the topic of the new variant closely.

The UK’s tightened Covid-19 restrictions in response to Omicron didn’t come as a surprise for many.

Back in November, two-thirds of British adults said it was likely that additional government restrictions would be brought in during the Christmas period.

On December 15, the UK recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and we’re now starting to see Omicron affect people’s plans during the holidays.

YouGov’s survey of British adults found that nearly one in five (17%) say they have already cancelled or postponed plans over the next couple of weeks due to concerns over the Omicron variant.

The data reveals that people seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach with 39% of people saying they have not cancelled any plans but are considering doing so.

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Some consumers (39%) seem completely resolved to keep with their plans in the next few weeks if allowed, however, including a plurality of young adults aged 18-24 (42%).

The Omicron variant also clouds the outlook for travel in 2022, a potential blow for international demand to and from the UK after months of  positive momentum.

According to data from YouGov’s Global Travel Profiles, demand for outbound travel from the UK increased by 48% between the beginning of summer and November (from 27% in June to 40% in November).

New YouGov data reveals that this outbound demand has dipped by five-points in December (35%).

We’re also seeing a slight uptick in the share of people who say health risks (from 33% in November to 37% in December) and travel restrictions (35% to 44%) are currently preventing them from travelling.

As the Covid-19 situation continues to unfold, it’s critical to keep a pulse on how the travel market is reacting to Omicron and changing governmental policies.

YouGov’s audience intelligence tools and travel database can help companies keep pace with travellers and dissect travel sentiment during these turbulent times.

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