YouGov’s Eva Satkute Stewart analyses people’s understanding of the government’s traffic light system

The government’s decision to reopen foreign travel using a traffic light system has brought hope – and several questions – to the highly-anticipated return of overseas travel.

It resonated well among those in the industry calling for such a system, relieved the news may finally encourage consumers to start planning and book their next trip.

We polled adults in England on their thoughts about the green, amber and red system and whether they would be encouraged to travel internationally based on current requirements.


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Our research found that a majority (66%) support its introduction but this doesn’t capture the complete feeling towards travelling abroad again.

Three in 10 British adults (30%) said they would feel comfortable travelling to another country again immediately after the traffic light system is introduced, and more than twice that say they would feel uncomfortable (60%).

Quarantine rules offputting

The traffic light system brings with it specific testing and quarantine rules for each country’s designation.

‘Green’ countries require a negative Covid-19 result days before and after arriving back to the UK.

Nearly half of the English public (48%) say the testing requirement makes it not worth travelling to a ‘green’ country while a third (33%) think travel is worth this additional cost and step to get the fit-to-fly tests.

Young adults aged 18-24 are the most likely to consider a country labelled as ‘green’ for a holiday (50%) but ‘green’ designations are less popular among those aged 65 and older (22%).

And when it comes to travelling to an ‘amber’ country, few adults in England think it is worth it given the testing and quarantine requirements (15%) and are nearly five times as likely to say it is not worth it (70%).

While younger adults express a higher rate of willingness to visit an ‘amber’ country under the current requirements, only one in five adults aged 18-49 think it is worth it (20%).

Where will Brits travel to?

The government plans to review the traffic light system on June 28, and again in July and October to determine if the testing and quarantine rules for each of the three designations will ease or tighten up as the year unfolds.

Only a few countries may be deemed safe enough to make England’s ‘green’ travel list by the time international travel is due to restart on May 17.

Recent data from YouGov’s DestinationIndex, based on interviews with more than 13,500 British adults to track public perception of the world’s destinations and people’s willingness to travel to them, reveals high demand among British adults for travel to the US (23%), Iceland (19%), Ireland (17%), Australia (16%) and Israel (6%).

Given the confusion over new travel guidelines so far, it will be critical for travel companies to monitor people’s understanding of what is required of passengers to travel again, their travel sentiment and considerations.

In order to restart travel on a strong note and have a successful summer season, communication to consumers will be key.

However, travel brands need to go beyond just advising on the safety of travel; they need to inspire and convince consumers that international travel, destinations, and attractions are absolutely worth the hassle and, ultimately, the additional cost of testing.


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