This is the million dollar question currently on everyone’s lips. What are the chances of us getting away this Summer? Unfortunately, probably the only thing that is certain right now is that everything remains rather uncertain!
Mixed messages are certainly coming from the government right now. Last month, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that it was ‘too early’ for Brits to be planning holidays overseas. Likewise, Covid vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi also said that it was premature for Brits to be planning that far ahead whilst Health secretary Matt Hancock said that Brits should plan for a ‘great British Summer’ and has shared his plans with us to holiday in Cornwall. However, Jeremy Hunt revealed that he has a holiday to Italy already booked. That’s a man after our own heart!
But, on the other hand, we’re hearing a very different picture from airlines and several travel companies. Michael O’Leary, the boss of low cost airline Ryanair is assuming ‘a strong return’ for European beach holidays this Summer and fully expects current restrictions to be dropped once high risk groups have received the vaccine. Similarly, Easyjet reported a 250% increase on Summer bookings last month.
So, first and foremost, here’s what we do know. Let’s be absolutely clear that it would be illegal to holiday in Italy or France right now. Last month the government closed all travel corridors and it is very clear on the UK government website, that in the current lockdown, no one is allowed to travel overseas on holiday. The UK government also recently announced that those returning to the UK from certain ‘high risk’ countries overseas will have to pay to quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel for 10 days on their return, allowing them to more strictly enforce self isolation rules already in place. Whilst we’re not expecting this to be applied to Italy or France at the moment since it applies only to those countries associated with the new COVID variants such as South America, South Africa and Portugal, it goes without saying that such measures only add to the heightened uncertainty about the possibility of travel anywhere abroad later this year.
That’s not to say that these measures aren’t popular with the UK public though. Recent January YouGov data shows that nine in ten people (92%) support the new rules on showing a negative test on arrival with 87% also in favour of making arrivals quarantine in hotels for 10 days. Nearly two thirds of Brits would even support a ban on all international flights.
It feels like most Brits have perhaps come to terms with not going abroad in the foreseeable future. After all, the same YouGov poll reports that only 9% of people feel confident that they could enjoy a normal holiday abroad this year. So what is stopping them most? Well, unlike most countries around the world, December 2020 YouGov poll data found that 67% of British people said that the the current government regulations were preventing them from travelling whereas only 58% said that health concerns were stopping them. Interestingly, in most countries around the world, these figures are the other way round. And whilst data at this time also showed that more were planning a domestic holiday in 2021 (43%) than a trip abroad, 30% of people asked in December were still planning to head overseas in the next 12 months, a figure that takes them above their counterparts on the continent. Only 29% of the French, 19% of Italians and 18% of Spaniards claimed they would holiday internationally in 2021.
So, does all this mean that we shouldn’t continue to hope that we will still be able to escape to Italy or France this Summer? In our opinion, absolutely not! Last year, despite all the restrictions and lockdowns, YouGov polls showed us that 43% of Brits were still interested in travel, making it the third most popular topic amongst us. We are a nation that loves to travel and there is incredible pent up demand amongst those looking to explore the world again.
We do have to remember that it is still early days. We’re only at the beginning of February and the school Summer holidays are still five and a half months away. And, of course, it goes without saying that the government is treading carefully and cautiously right now. We just reached the terrible figure of 100,000 deaths due to COVID, our hospitals have been at bursting point and we’re only a few weeks into the vaccine rollout. It would be nothing short of foolish for the UK government to start making promises about when borders can re-open. Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID Strategic Response Director from Public Health England spoke this week to the BBC. ‘I hope that this Summer will be similar to last Summer’ she said, which may ‘allow us to be able to do things that will feel more normal.’ And you have to remember that trips abroad were possible last Summer, albeit to a limited number of countries.
The travel and tourism industry is vital in the UK. Travel agencies, tour operators and other reservation services have contributed over 40 billion pounds per annum to the UK economy across the last 7 years. At some point, borders will need to be re-opened and travel will need to start again but it is right that the government are cautious about when this may be and it’s right that they’re not committing to dates at this stage. It’s just too soon.
In short, don’t give up hope just yet! It’s definitely too soon to give up on the dream of lounging on the Italian riviera, driving through Tuscany’s rolling hills or siting poolside with a glass of Italy’s finest tipple in your hand! Whilst we may not be seeing a swift return to a ‘new’ normal, we would urge you to ‘watch this space.’
And, when you are ready to make your Summer 2021 holiday plans, you can book with confidence with Bookings For You. Book with us and if travel turns out not to be possible then you can move your booking back to alternative dates. With some properties, we even have the option of receiving a full refund should your trip be affected by COVID restrictions. Please get in touch for more details.