On Friday 3 July, the UK announced the full list of countries exempted from quarantine.
After months of isolation and confinement, many people will be eager to get away, craving safe breaks, health-boosting experiences, and invigorating immersions in nature. But there is no denying the travel and tourism industry has been altered indefinitely, as flexible booking options, clear and fair cancellation conditions, financial protection and health and hygiene factors are more important than ever before.
Worries about international travel are having an impact and consumers are now looking at holidays that involve less travel overall. The holiday style and accommodation sought is also changing, with a shift towards a more remote setting.
Mass-market holidays are expected to change, as the cost of delivering all-inclusive holidays in a socially distanced environment skyrockets. Many all-inclusive hotels depend on buffet food delivery and low staff-to-guest ratios; however, these systems are just not viable with social distancing rules requiring more staff to deliver table service. As a result, many all-inclusive hotels will not be able to open this summer, even though tourists are now returning, as the cost of delivering the board basis sold surpasses the price it was sold at.
We believe customers will look to steer away from crowded hotel pools and buffet style dining. Instead, post-Covid-19 consumer demand will likely shift towards holiday types that offer more isolation, including self-catering, private charters and villas.
Prior to the government announcement (9-14 June), we conducted some consumer research with 200 Sunsail UK customers to help us better understand levels of consideration for booking yacht charter holidays in the next 12 months, including when they think they may be ready to book, and for what departure period. We were also able to use the data to understand the most important issues and concerns that customers currently have, and what they need reassurance around before considering making a booking.
Overall, consideration levels appear quite promising for the next 12 months, with 69% of Sunsail UK customers considering making a yacht charter holiday booking in the next 12 months, compared to only 9% who are not considering a booking. Just under 25% “don’t know yet” and are waiting to see what happens first.
Greece is currently the most appealing destination, showing strong levels of interest from UK customers (68%), followed by Croatia (42%), and the British Virgin Islands (32%), and Italy (25%).
There are a range of issues behind the 9% who are not considering booking a trip, including concerns about the negative impact social distancing will have on their holiday experience.
We believe customers will prioritise exclusivity and avoid destinations with large groups or crowds. The desire to go on holiday to a safe place and switch off from the panic of current affairs will see a rise in off-the-grid holidays.
The lockdown may also increase an appetite for activity and adventure-based holidays. Many people will have been spending time in lockdown exercising at home, taking long walks or bike rides and are likely to want to embrace active holidays to replicate the feel-good factor this has given them.
So while the future of travel has changed, we are optimistic that it heralds a new chapter in the UK travel industry’s evolution.
Clive Norton is vice-president, yield and fleet management at Travelopia