It will no doubt take a while for most people to regain the same taste for travel they had pre-coronavirus. In the meantime, however, the industry is trying to adopt a positive outlook, supported by government and other official entitles promising to ramp up their promotional campaign spending to attract tourists.
Some airlines and tour operators are already taking bookings, at mostly favourable rates, for flights and holidays in 2021, including to such severely affected countries as Italy. And cultural establishments such as museums and galleries are providing online virtual tours to maintain interest.
They also have the advantage that many thwarted tourists are eagerly waiting for the green light to travel again.
According to Holiday Extras, just a month ago three out of four UK travellers were still planning for their next holiday, despite the coronavirus pandemic. A study by the holiday company in early March – before the UK government decreed stricter restrictions on travel and social distancing, and more and more countries closed their borders – concluded that most people cancelling their trips had been forced to do so, with older travellers being the ones most likely to press ahead with their plans.
Travelmole.com reported that calls to Holiday Extras’ UK call centre had been monitored to determine what customers’ concerns were about travelling during the outbreak, and these questions formed the basis of a survey among airport travellers.
Reportedly, the results showed that 75 per cent of people who flew out of a UK airport over the last year were taking their next overseas trip as planned. For respondents over 40, that figure rose to 83 per cent still planning to travel; and for over 60, 91 per cent.
Of those questioned, 59 per cent said they were travelling through choice. “This is due to the fact the virus is also present in the UK or because they do not think the virus is present at their destination, or because they are simply not concerned.”
Sixteen per cent were travelling through necessity, “either because they have to take a trip or can’t get a trip they booked refunded”. Ten per cent of UK travellers said they had decided against all international travel during the outbreak.
Thirteen per cent said they had been forced to cancel a trip because, for example, their carrier cancelled their booking, because a work trip was cancelled, or on medical advice.
At the time of the study’s release, Seamus McCauley, editor in chief at Holiday Extras, explained, “People, especially those in vulnerable categories, are right to be cautious about the risks of the virus and to heed the excellent advice of doctors and other experts.
“There’s understandable concern in our industry about the impact of coronavirus on people’s travel plans, so we wanted to understand how concerned UK travellers were in light of the information they’re receiving, and help them make informed travel decisions.
“The UK government is advising against all travel, or all but essential travel, to those destinations which have seen the most significant outbreaks of the virus… We’ll be running our survey regularly over the next few weeks to see how attitudes to travelling change. For now, it looks like the British public are still travelling if they can.”
The new results are likely to show significantly different statistics, as the crisis has been exacerbated worldwide since the early part of March. Nevertheless, the study conclusions would tend to suggest that, when the crisis is over, UK travellers (and other nationalities) will be keen to get back on a plane to resume their delayed holidays.
Many – in the future – will also be able to enjoy the pleasures of Boeing’s new 777X, which is currently undergoing test flights. The first official pictures of the aircraft – which has a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles (15,185 kilometres) and, according to Boeing, will have the lowest operating cost per seat of any commercial aircraft – have just been released.
Check details here of EasyJet’s early winter sale.